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FOLIAGE 2014 OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND PRESS RELEASE (Highlights Brandon-Rutland area)

Contact: Martha Fitch, Director
Vermont Crafts Council


Open Studio Weekend at Sites Across the State on October 4th & 5th

Leaf peepers love autumn in Vermont, exploring the state to see the brilliant show of reds, oranges and yellows shimmering in the mountains and valleys. Foliage visitors can enjoy the beauty and also take home an artful experience during their stay by meeting Vermont artisans in their studios during the Fall Open Studio Weekend.

The free tour takes place from 10-5 on Saturday and Sunday, October 4 and 5 when craftspeople and artists at sites in every region of Vermont will open their studios to the public. Bright yellow Open Studio signs are posted along the roads to guide visitors to each studio. Visitors experience a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the workspaces of glassblowers, weavers, sculptors, potters, woodworkers, printmakers, jewelers, furniture makers, painters, quilters, and other makers.

The Open Studio Map/Guide is free and available at Vermont welcome centers, galleries throughout the state, or on the Vermont Crafts Council website, It is easy to plan a tour with the Open Studio map: Just choose a section of the state to explore and find studios along the way. The destination might be a classic Vermont village with a number of nearby studios. Or, a tour can be fashioned by looking for studios with a favorite art form like pottery or woodturning or photography. Those who prefer spontaneity can look for Open Studio yellow signs along the roads and follow them to studio locations. Visitors will find appealing works of all kinds: traditional and cutting edge, functional and aesthetic, simple and sophisticated.

Martha Fitch, Director of the Crafts Council, says Open Studio is a great event because people have the flexibility to spend as much time as they want, whether on an interesting activity for a few hours or two full days of exploration. “It's a chance to meet the artisans, share their passions and enjoy their hospitality,” says Fitch. “What better way to learn about Vermont than through the lives and works of its artists?”

Studios in West-Central Vermont

In the valleys and hills in the broad Lake Champlain valley in the west-central Vermont region of Rutland and southern Addison counties are clusters of studios whose works range from contemporary blown glass to playful jewelry made from zippers to hand-made hardwood furniture. A good way to get an overview of this area's tour is to visit either the Brandon Artists Guild or Rutland's Chaffee Arts Center, both of which are regional information centers for the Open Studio tour. The Brandon Artists' Guild exhibits a vibrant collection of works by more than 50 artists. The Chaffee, housed in a magnificent Victorian Mansion, exhibits the works of area artists. Each gallery has Open Studio maps available for visitors and can offer suggestions of local studios to visit.

In and near the village of Brandon are the studios of three artists: Medana Gabbard, Susan Smith-Hunter and Joan Curtis. Gabbard's folk art paintings encompass the simple life of yesteryear. Her gallery also offers a selection of sculpted folk art dolls that she has created. Smith Hunter creates ceramic sculpture, mosaics and pottery inspired by the forces of nature and natural forms. Some of her works suggest the stillness of ancient civilizations and earth, while others capture the landscapes of human faces and Vermont gardens of tendril and leaf patterns. Curtis, also in Brandon, is a mixed media artist known for sculpture using papier-mch and fabrics. Describing her work as “visionary, she also works with acrylic paintings and colored pencil drawings.

Just west of Brandon on Route 73 in Orwell is the studio of contemporary glassblower Jon Chiles, who designs and makes distinctive functional glassware and colorful one-of-a-kind pieces with bold and whimsical forms. During Open Studio weekend, Chiles will demonstrate glassblowing and will also work with both adults and children to make their own blown glass holiday ornament.

There are also a number of artists in and around Rutland. Within the town itself is the studio of zipper artist Stacie Mincher, whose studio is in a 1923 Craftsman style bungalow. She is known for her heart-shaped zipper pins, but also creates pendants, ornaments, clocks, mirrors, picture frames and boxes using recycled zippers. Just west of Rutland in Castleton is the studio of painter Tom Merwin, whose abstract oils, minimalist sumi ink drawings and watercolors of waterfalls are in a gallery in the heart of Castleton's National Historic Building District.

Heading south towards Middletown Springs in the beautiful Mettowee River Valley, part of Vermont's designated “Stone Valley Byway”, is Rising Meadow Pottery, the studio of Diane Rosenmiller and Nicholas Seidner. The pottery features studios, kilns, a teaching facility and gallery. Historical pottery and their natural environment influence their individual work which is functional and made for everyday use and enjoyment.

Continuing towards Pawlet are the studios of Heidi Hammel, who creates found object collages, and Doreen Frost, who will be showing her handcrafted needlework and mohair bears. Also in this region in Danby near Route 7 is furniture-maker Bob Gasperetti, whose barn-studio houses his large workshop and gallery of furniture and wooden accessories.

Traveling east of Route 7 on Route 103, visitors will encounter the studios of wood turner Gerry Martin, potter David Stone, and print and rug maker Stephanie Stouffer. There is a story behind every wooden bowl in Martin's studio, where he will also demonstrate how he creates his pieces. Stone works with both low-fired, burnished earthenware fired with alternative methods as well as porcelain and stoneware, which is functional, durable, and made for everyday use. Stouffer is acclaimed as an innovative artist who is a leader in design trends, with her work found on many decorative accessories such as rugs, needlepoint pillows and cards. Many of these can be found in her Belmont gallery along with her original art and prints. Her imaginative designs feature animals and flowers and are warm, whimsical and painted in a palette of exquisite color.

The Vermont Crafts Council, which organizes Open Studio Weekends in both spring and fall, publishes a free map booklet available at Vermont welcome centers, galleries, and community centers that gives people an easy way to plan an individualized tour route. Regional information centers are highlighted in the guide as places to give studio explorers an overview of a particular area. Each studio is numbered with the location shown on the Open Studio map/guide. Directions, addresses and contact information are also listed. A map can be requested on the Vermont Crafts Council website (, where an online version is available. Maps can also be obtained by calling (802) 223-3380 or emailing

Vermont Open Studio Weekend is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and the creative process in which Vermont artists and craftspeople invite the public to visit them in their studios. Open Studio Weekend is also a featured event during American Craft Week, a nationwide celebration of American craft over ten days in early October.

The Vermont Crafts Council launched Open Studio Weekend in 1993 as a way to increase the visibility of artists and craftspeople in Vermont. The event's goal is to foster an appreciation for the creative process and the role that artists and craftspeople play in the vitality of Vermont's communities.

The Vermont Crafts Council is a non-profit organization serving the Vermont visual arts community. Open Studio Weekend is supported by the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Byways Program.