Artisans tour offers broad spectrum
River Record Weekly, NH - Friday, November 16, 2007
By NICOLE S. COLSON, Record Staff
WALPOLE - This year, the Walpole Artisan Tour is serving a much larger role than a holiday shopping opportunity. It's showing what can be done when creative minds work together.
This year's event, a chance for visitors to enjoy a scenic village, see some art, meet artists and possibly watch them in their work setting, comes in the midst of another project to start an artists' co-operative.
The tour, founded by watercolor artist Barbara Tarantino, is already an organized affair. The group of artists on the roster meet regularly throughout the year to plan it. But this year, members are taking things a step further by pursuing nonprofit status and securing a permanent home for the co-op.
Part of the group's new role as a co-operative would mean education, in the form of artist talks and demonstrations, as well as a common retail space. Members will also be encouraged to participate in planning other events in town, like the annual Old Home Days celebration.
Because artists involved are at different stages of their careers, the co-operative as well as the tour are optional, Tarantino said.
First and foremost, Walpole Artisans exists for mutual support.
"For some it is enough to come together with other artists once a month and share their work and ideas," Tarantino said.
"For others, they want to advertise and sell their work as well as network with other artists. In other words, we want all Walpole area artists to feel welcome to join us in whatever capacity meets their needs at this time."
The 16 artists on this year's tour roster - the highest number to date - will again offer a broad spectrum of work for sale.
A twist for 2007 is a drawing to win a piece of artwork from one of the participating artists, each of which will donate one.
Appearing again this year will be Mark Putnam of Woodward Tiny Tot Furniture; photographer Judy Stylus; metal sculptor Bob Taylor; potter Sharyn Tullar; folk artist Dutchie Perron; floral designer Jayson Munn; glassblower Chris Sherwin; dollmaker and vintage-inspired artist Loribeth Robare; fine artists Brian Putnam and Priya Allaire; and antique and out-of-print bookseller Ray Boas.
As usual, there are some new faces on the list.
Bill Shannon of Barnett Hill Woodworking is one, along with folk artist Maggi Suttles and potter Barbra Bragg.
Janette Schuster, who creates art and jewelry from found objects, is another tour first-timer.
Her business, Visual Apothecary, was born from her being "an incurable treasure hunter" as she wrote on her Web site.
She calls herself "equal parts scientist and artist," and she means that literally. Before she moved to Walpole last August from New Jersey, Schuster was a scientific consultant in Arizona working at ancient Native American archeological excavation sites. "I was a female Indiana Jones," she said.
Her digging up of artifacts further fueled her life-long love of searching for treasure at flea markets, yard sales and the town dump. At the same time, she honed her creative skills in drawing, ceramics, painting, beading and sewing and settled into her niche as an artist by using found materials in her work.
Usually a found object will be the starting point for her inspiration, and Schuster will then develop a concept for her piece and try about 50 combinations of materials before finding one that works in delivering her idea. "It will take years to use everything in my house," she said of her large cache of found objects she's accumulated over the years.
A lot of times, her projects begin with a vintage photograph. "There's something about that moment in time captured that's really intriguing," she said. Using these photographs to adopt what she calls "anonymous ancestors" leads to her creating stories surrounding them.
One such example is a piece she titled "Marbo the Magnificent." The idea was born from a metal heel tap she found made by The Marbo Company. Marbo the Magnificent is a character she created who wears a hat made from that piece of tap shoe metal.
Schuster is also fascinated with religious iconography, especially that of ancient Russian and Byzantine artists. These artists created spiritual illustrations, or icons, depicting sacred figures and often wearing ornate clothing covered in precious metals and stones.
Schuster, who is also a free-lance writer of science education materials, leads workshops in found object art across the country. Her work and some instruction on how to use personal keepsakes to make jewelry will be featured in an art book that will be published in the spring. The book, which has not yet been titled, will also feature the work of other local mixed media artists.
The Walpole Artisan Tour is the first group event in which Schuster has participated as an artist. "I really wanted to get involved to meet people in the area," she said, and it gave her an excuse to get her studio in working order in the "fixer-upper" cottage she bought.
Being a member of a co-operative that highlights arts education will give Schuster the best of both worlds as an artist. "I not only love to create but to share how to do that with others," she said.
The tour's home base is Hastings House off Main Street adjacent to the Walpole Unitarian Church. There you can enjoy refreshments, pick up a tour map, and preview the work of tour artists and which studios you can visit, many which are within walking distance from that point in the village.
The fifth annual Walpole Artisans Tour will be held Saturday, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov. 25, and Saturday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 2. Hours for both weekends will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
Tour maps may be found at the Hastings House on Union Street or at any artist's studio. For more information, visit http://www.walpoleartisantour.com.
(C) 2007 River Record Weekly - Keene Sentinel