Something new is within the purview for Countryside Artisans of Maryland, the juried group of visual, sculptural, textile and beverage artists who open their galleries and studios in historical rural Montgomery, Howard and Frederick counties for three annual weekend tours.
For the first time in its 26-year history, members will show and sell together in one place during the Saturday, Nov. 2 Fall Fest in Laytonsville. “Tusculum Farm provided the perfect venue with its own historic countryside setting with enough gorgeous farm buildings to house all the artisans,” said Sandy Wright, the self-described “not myself an artist, but compelled to support artists” who has promoted the group since 2016 in support of her husband, sculptor David Therriault.
“A visit to the beautiful, celebrated Tusculum Farm is a treat in itself,” observed Poolesville painter Claire Howard. “You will fall in love the moment you arrive. Beautifully decorated for autumn, it is a step back in time and a restorative rest for the soul.”
Wright credited the Lucky Ducks, the organization’s newly-established publicity group, for the special event idea. “The Countryside Artisans are connected through a shared love of rural landscapes, yet they are not able to enjoy each other or each other’s talent during their seasonal studio tours because, of course, they must stay in their studios to welcome visitors,” she explained. Also, as “it is virtually impossible for art lovers to visit all the studios during a studio tour weekend … an event was in order” for visitors as well.
“The artists are really excited and expect this to be quite overwhelming to have all that creativity and talent accessible in one place,” Wright added.
Felt maker Bev Thoms, of Tiewyan Artisans in Dickerson, has been with Countryside Artisans for about a decade. She uses wool from the sheep she raises as well as “up-cycled and purchased silks” to create wearables, table ware and display art.
About the group’s regular weekend tours, Thoms said, “I love the opportunity that showing from my studio allows me to meet customers and share the process of raising sheep and using their wool in my art.” She also appreciates the “chance to educate people about the benefits of the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve.” Thoms believes the arts market will “attract a different customer base, increasing our exposure and brand … and I love the chance to see the work of other artists.”
Theda Hansen of the Art of Fire Glassblowing Studio in Laytonsville has belonged to Countryside Artisans for “at least” 20 years. “We love being out in the country where people have an opportunity to enjoy the scenery while they travel from one artist’s studio to another,” she said.
The glassblower looks forward to “the opportunity for all of us to get together as a group and enjoy each other’s work,” at the arts market, pointing out that “ordinarily, we’re each manning our individual studios and don’t have a chance to socialize with each other.”
Typically, “we are working in our studio producing pieces while people watch. In the studio, we have furnaces, necessary to produce glass,” Hansen said. In contrast, for the arts market, they will not have the furnaces, but will show and sell “a full range of our art –from glass pumpkins to stemware, bowls, vases and ornaments.”
Therriault works and shows his stone, primitive, cultural and natural sculptures at his Beallsville home, Alden Farms, where a three-acre sculpture garden and gallery are open to the public. “A lot of my work is very large and best viewed in a garden setting,” so he will bring only “a taste of what I do” to the arts market.
A Countryside Artisans member for about 10 years, Therriault said, “It has been great for me to be able to get more exposure for my art, and to be part of this talented group.” Another plus, he said, is that “I have been able to help promote the agricultural reserve as not only family farms, but [also] a complete community of people inspired by the beautiful countryside.” He hopes this new “event will reach some people who we have missed and inspire them to come and enjoy our other tours.”
As usual, “the artists will all be opening their studios for the December Holiday Tour and customers will then be able to see the complete breadth of their work and lifestyle,” Howard noted. She has been among “these successful, award-winning artists [that] provide a forum for new ideas and avenues to expand my visions” for 18 years.
“For me, painting is a means of communication,” Howard said. “When I see a beautiful sky or breathtaking light, all thoughts leave my mind and time stops. I want to remember that moment forever. And those are the moments I wish to pass along, that place inside all of us where peace resides at all times.” She will share “a sampling” of her original paintings, framed prints and cards” at the market.
Howard believes that Countryside Artisans’ personal approach reflects “a steady movement toward the arts. Maybe we all desire a closer connectedness to each other.
”Our customers wish to know the person who conceived and made the selection they wish to include in their homes. They care about what motivates the soul of the artist whose energy and time has been invested in their work and the origins of their ideas.”
Countryside Artisans’ Artist Market will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 at Tusculum Farm, 4601 Damascus Road, Gaithersburg. Admission is free. For information about Countryside Artisans, visit www.countrysideartisans.com.