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May 5, 2014
Contact: Martha Fitch, Director
Vermont Crafts Council


(Honoring 20 years - Dianne Shullenberger & Matthew Tell)


Unique Experiences Await at Artists' Studios Throughout the State on May 24 - 25

Late May can be one of the most rewarding times of the year to explore Vermont and the Spring Open Studio Tour over Memorial Day Weekend offers a great way for locals and visitors alike to do so. Bright yellow signs are placed along Vermont's roads to mark the way to studios of 239 craftspeople and fine artists during the self-guided tour on May 24 and 25 at a time when the landscape is fresh and inviting and without the crowds of summer and fall.

Open Studio Weekend is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and creative process, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to meet a wide variety of artists and craftspeople in their studios, some of which are only open to the public during this event. Those who experience Open Studio gain an appreciation for the creative process and the role that artists and craftspeople play in the vitality of Vermont's communities.

Every year the self-guided tour features a number of new artists, giving long-time Open Studio visitors some fresh destinations to explore. In studios of long-time participants, repeat visitors can expect to find new art works and old friends. The studio tour brings visitors to historic villages and along roads with spectacular vistas. For travelers looking for a broad range of regional activities, has posted interactive maps in each of the regions showing Open Studios in those areas.

Martha Fitch, the director of the Vermont Crafts Council that organizes the event, says the allure of the Open Studio tour is that "it takes you through the real Vermont, with the yellow Open Studio signs and the Open Studio map easily guiding visitors to the studios." The tour features the work of glassblowers, jewelers, printmakers, potters, furniture makers, weavers, ironworkers, painters, sculptors, quilt makers and wood carvers.

The free Open Studio guide contains maps and directions to studios and studio addresses that can be entered into GPS systems. The maps, along with the yellow signs placed along the roads, ensure that visitors will easily find the studios. The Open Studio guide is available throughout the state at Vermont Welcome Centers, galleries and studios, on the website, or by calling 802-223-3380.


This May, the Vermont Crafts Council which organizes the event, is honoring two artists who have participated in the Spring Open Studio tour for 20 years:


To Open Studio travelers exploring northwestern Vermont, a visit to Dianne Shullenberger's studio in Jericho has both artistic and historic appeal: Not only is her studio an experience of color and the creative process, but her home is also where Snowflake Bentley, the beloved Vermont icon, lived in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Shullenberger began opening her studio during the tour as a comfortable way to share her work and interests with her neighbors who were curious about her way of life. She says the biggest change in the 20 years she has done Open Studio is that people come back every year to see what new work she has developed, and, they bring their friends to share one of their favorite studio visits.

Shullenberger describes her studio as one of her favorite places to be. The workroom has big windows with a view of mountains and a pond along with her exquisite gardens. The walls are lined with chromatically arranged fabrics and shelves holding boxes of old scarves and silk ties. This creative space, she says, gives her the spontaneity to "come up with crazy things."

This year, those who visit Shullenberger's studio will see a new series "Circular Earth", made from natural objects she has collected over many years. These three-dimensional pieces mimic the detailed fiber paintings she creates from bits of textiles and threads, but are layered instead with pieces of nature such as pine needles, acorns, grasses, and stems of bushes and trees. Just as people sometimes mistake her fabric paintings for watercolors, some of the "Circular Earth" pieces also appear from a distance like paintings or quilts, until it becomes clear that they are made completely from objects from nature.

Some of the "Circular Series" pieces were made to be companion pieces to a fabric painting of the same landscape. As a way to connect with a sense of that particular place, the natural objects she collects to use in the piece all grow in the spot that is depicted in the art.



Visitors to Matthew Tell's studio off of Route 9 in southern Vermont are met with a place of astonishing beauty: it looks out over the Green Mountains and is right across the road from Sunset Lake, a popular spot for fishing and paddling.

Upon arriving, visitors will notice the clay garden stools and birdbaths outside the studio. Downstairs is the workspace with wheels, tools and materials showing the creative process. Upstairs is a gallery showing a full range of Tell's pottery. A new line of pottery this year is called the "Chattering" series, with textured surfaces created by vibrating banding irons on the unfired surface before applying variegated glazes to enhance the patterns.

Tell's wood kiln uses the power of fire to alter and enhance his functional pottery. It's an unpredictable process, he says, and each firing is different and full of surprises. The colors, forms and textures of his pottery are influenced by his life in the Green Mountains. He first began working with clay 37-years-ago and studied ceramics at nearby Marlboro College with Malcolm Wright and Michael Boylen.

Tell jokes that his studio is "out in the middle of nowhere" and that one of the first questions he gets from visitors is "How do you get out of here in the winter?" He points out, however, that even though it is a dirt road, it is well maintained. To help visitors, he places "signs of encouragement" along the way, telling them to "Keep Going" and "Not Too Far Now".

Tell's is one of seven studios in the immediate area of West Brattleboro, and twenty-five other studios within a 20 mile radius are taking part in the tour, many along the Route 9 corridor.


The Vermont Open Studio Guide is available throughout the state at Tourist Information Centers, galleries and studios, on the website, or by calling 802-223-3380.

The Vermont Crafts Council is a non-profit organization serving the Vermont visual arts community. Open Studio Weekend is supported by the galleries of Vermont State Craft Centers, the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

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