By Bob Hurley
Special to the Rappahannock News
Beautiful Rappahannock County has drawn a great number of highly talented and widely recognized artists to its vibrant and diverse community for decades. The extraordinary result is reflected in this year’s 12th annual Studio and Gallery Tour, with more than 90 artists displaying their work in 21 studios and nine galleries located around the county.
Essential to the tour’s continued success: The many artists who return year after year, artists you’ll find at 14 of this year’s open studios. This “core” group has been busy preparing exquisite works of art that will excite veteran collectors as well as newcomers to the tour. Many repeat guests know the artists and studio locations well and seek their favorites out as must-see sites. To add even more interest and appeal, many of the artists are hosting guests with a wide range of artistic offerings. Returning artists and their guests are listed below by geographic location.
Pam Pittinger will be showing her unique abstract acrylics, many landscape-inspired with elements of “playfulness” and humor. Guests visiting Pittinger’s studio will be rewarded with a treasure trove of diverse artworks from eight other artists displaying their creations there. These include her husband, Lynn, a fine-wood furniture maker, and the famed Rappahannock “Six Pack” artists, Jim Ramsay, Chris Stevens, Ann Curry, Janet Bromebb and Linda Tarry. Heidi Morf will also be showing her lampwork jewelry and mosaic mirrors.
Benita Rauda Gowan’s recent works in acrylics and collage use a variety of materials including bright fabrics from around the world, yarn and multi-hued papers. Gowan’s dynamic creations explore how changes in form and color affect one’s emotional responses.
Michael Dennis’ studio is a marvel, filled with “old world” print and booking-binding equipment, where he designs intricate bindings of finely printed vintage books as well as a line of blank books and presentation boxes. Joining Michael at Bookworks as a guest artist is longtime Rappahannock photographer, woodworker and poet KC Bosch, and Trish Bartholomew with fine basketry.
Tom Mullany works with a variety of media in paintings, sculpture and large-scale murals. In some of his works, he strives to envision real history in a surreal way, while in other pieces he portrays an imaginary image in a matter-of-fact way. His art seeks to merge the life of the mind with the world we think we see with our eyes. In his studio, an old apple-packing warehouse, classes and workshops are offered to those interested in art. Returning guests at the studio are Kerrie Mullany and Candace Clough.
Nol Putnam will be showing his unique iron sculpture in “table-top” size and large outdoor pieces. Putnam will be giving tours of his forge and sharing intimate insights into his creative process and his art. Joining Putnam in his studio are “encore” Rappahannock artist Jeanne Drevas and returning multimedia artist Darien Reece.
Phyllis Northup’s fabulous watercolors encompass realistic scenes from across the country and the Blue Ridge Mountains, to more intimate natural settings and details. Her special connection to the National Parks inspires her to help others see and be open to the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us.
Peter Kramer says designing and making fine wood furniture is more than his occupation, it is his art form. That energy, creativity and skill are evident in his masterpieces, which combine traditional styles with his own contemporary designs and have received national acclaim.
Nedra Smith’s Gatehouse Studio once again promises to be filled with her sublime impressionistic landscape paintings of scenic local areas and places she has visited coast to coast. A venerated plein-air artist, she is also highly accomplished at portraiture, figural and still life genres.
Ruthie Windsor-Mann will have an expansive display of her watercolor and oil paintings, as well as pen and ink drawings. Working in her charming light-filled studio, Windsor-Mann specializes in the use of transparent paints, blending tones and hues that give her watercolors a dreamlike quality.
Nancy Keyser’s watercolors range from panoramic landscapes of the Blue Ridge Mountains to intimate details of animals, wildflowers and gardens. Her recent work reflects a “looser” brush with a more vibrant palette. Her paintings communicate a love of nature and country life with a fluid, colorful style.
Hans Gerhard regularly introduces new vision and style into his abstract paintings and, in recent years, his metal sculptures. The palate and form of his paintings range from muted earth tones and soft sloping forms to brighter colors with hard edges and straight lines. His imaginative small and large outdoor sculptures are constructed from re-purposed farm implements and tools, many from his own farm.
Rosabel Goodman-Everard channels her creativity and skill as a painter by using tree patterns to convey imagery that excites the mind and stirs the emotions. Other works, including mixed-media sculpture, explore fantastic forms of animals, landscapes and otherworldly beings. Joining Goodman-Everard at her studio are guest artists Janet Kerig, Nina Moore, Ruth Anna Stolk and Molly Dodge.
Gina Sweatt employs the labor-intensive “sheet and wire” style in her beautiful and intricate jewelry. She re-purposes vintage jewelry and recycled materials into her own creative designs. “Each stone has its own magic,” she says. “That’s what inspires me in designing settings.”
Margaret Rogers is a printmaker whose work also includes illustration, graphite and botanical scenes. Drypoint, aquatint and monotypes are some of the techniques used. Her studio, tucked behind the family’s renowned Central Coffee Roaster, is surrounded by a designated wildlife habitat providing inspiration for her nature scenes.
Sponsored by the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community (RAAC), the annual tour is 10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5-6. Tickets ($10 per person, good for both days) are available at the Washington School, which is the tour’s headquarters and main gallery, at 567 Mount Salem Ave. Visit raac.org or facebook.com/studioandgallerytour for more information.