America’s most famous folk artist calls Vermont home.

Folk artists gallery: Brandon Artists Guild in Brandon, Vermont

Brandon Artists Guild.

Life at the October Country Inn in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont can be said to be the act of living folk art. Without trying, the inn epitomizes the folk artist lifestyle: relaxed, an appreciation for simpler living, surrounded by an understated depth of natural beauty. It seems fitting then that Warren Kimble, America’s most famous folk artist, got his start in nearby Woodstock. Kimble’s work reflects the folk art ethos that, in the fast-moving, technology-obsessed modern world, people enjoy images that speak to a slower, less complicated time. At 80, Kimble has not stopped creating. “Warren Kimble: Folk Art 2017,” an exhibition showcasing the artist’s current mood of nostalgia opens in nearby Brandon, Vermont at the Brandon Artists Guild June 30 through August 29, 2017.

Kimble's folk artists view of an oversized pig.Kimble’s work transports you to a whimsical world where pigs take flight, red barns perch on brightly colored patchwork farms, and everything is as American as apple pie.  Over his lifetime, Kimble has absorbed a lot. “Art is the sum total of one’s experiences. The Jersey shore, the boardwalk, the color … I love the circus. I was taken to the circus every April. That’s art,” he says enthusiastically. “So you may not use it tomorrow or you may not use it 10 years from now, but the experience always comes back to you and makes the creative process happen,” he adds.

Kimble's folk artist view of a house on a hill.Kimble moved to Brandon in 1970, and taught art at nearby Castleton College. Struggling to make ends meet he says it all came together in 1990 at an antiques show in Woodstock. A local couple who were launching a publishing business saw and liked his work and wanted to make prints of his pieces.  John and Laurie Chester of Wild Apple Graphics chose six of his paintings, reproduced them and headed for New York City. “So there we are in New York at Art Expo,” says Kimble, “The big, huge, art show and they’re selling these reproductions like crazy.”  The paintings included a couple of animals, a painting of a house on a hill and two cows with the state of Vermont on their rumps kissing. “I just did that for fun,” says Kimble, who says that’s just his sense of humor. “But it just took off — it just went bananas,” he says.

Local Vermont Artists and Artesans Open Their Doors.

The Woodstock Collective.

The Woodstock Collective.

Over the recent decades, Vermont has emerged as the epicenter of the crafts revival in America.  We are fortunate here at the October Country Inn to be well placed within close proximity to many in this arts and crafts community.  Clear Lake Furniture produces hand-crafted heirloom quality hardwood furniture in a large barn in nearby Ludlow.  Walk to White Raven Drum Works in Bridgewater Corners for a wooden drum, flute, or didjeridu.  The Woodstock Collective, a twelve member cooperative craft gallery, features wearable, decorative and functional items.  Take home a white line woodcut by Hartland artist Marilyn Syme.

Meandering Wall for Walter. -M. Syme

Meandering Wall for Walter. -M. Syme

Each Spring, the Vermont Crafts Council, with over 400 members, organizes a state-wide open studio weekend.  The 2015 Open Studio Weekend is scheduled for May 23 and 24.

Some local studios that are open include:

  • Deborah Falls for botanical paintings on silk.
  • Vermont Stone Design for benches, birdbaths, vases, lamps, and frames.
  • VanNatta Gallery for plein air oil paintings.
  • Rockledge Farm Woodworks for furniture and home accessories.
  • Robert O’Brien Watercolors for paintings and prints.
  • Tsuga Studios for decorative and functional blown glass.

If you’re more of a hands-on kind of person, you might want to check out the Fletcher Farm School for the Arts and Crafts in nearby Ludlow.

Table and chairs by Clear Lake Furniture.

Table and chairs by Clear Lake Furniture.

The oldest arts and crafts school in Vermont, the Fletcher Farm School is operated by the Society of Vermont Artists and Craftsmen and committed to providing a quality arts and crafts education to keep old traditions alive as well as teach new techniques.

In any case, Spring has come to Vermont.  The grass is green, the trees are in leaf and blossom.  Enjoy Spring.  Come to the Woodstock Killington area and tour the work of local artists and artisans.  Time spent in Vermont, at the October Country Inn, is never wasted.

 

 

When Spring comes to Vermont, kinetic garden art emerges.

gardengirlIt’s been a long, cold Winter at the October Country Inn, and the nearby communities of Woodstock and Killington.  Now that the sun has climbed higher into the northern sky, daytime temperatures climb into the 50s, and 60s, and the snow is rapidly receding.  It’s time to start thinking about gardens, and no Vermont garden is complete without at least one unique whirligig spinning in the wind.

highflyerWhirligigs, objects that spin or whirl, usually powered by the wind, are often whimsical combinations of a weathervane and a pest control device.  The word derives from two Middle English words: “whirlen” (to whirl), and “gigg” (top) or literally “to whirl a top.”  The origin of whirligigs is unknown but there are several illustrations of the Christ child holding a whirligig.  George Washington is said to have brough one home from the Revolutionary War.

Whirligigs are a form of American folk art.  Here in Vermont, Russell Snow, of Waterbury Center, a seventh generation Vermonter and retired engineer, is an internationally known master of this folk art genre.  Snow delights in making

Russell Snow in his workshop with one of his whirligigs.

Russell Snow with one of his whirligigs.

whirligigs that emphasize movement.  His figures are mechanically complex with several perfectly formed figures performing a variety of actions.

April is a good month to visit the October Country Inn and take advantage of our Spring two-night special.  While you’re here, visit the Vermont Folklife Center.  Maybe, like George Washington, you’ll bring a Vermont made whirligig home with you.

 

Woodstock’s Sculpture Fest: Yard-art taken to a whole new level.

If you’re planning a trip to our neck of Vermont’s woods this weekend, you’re in luck.  A truly unique opportunity to wander around a Vermont farm that is festooned with interesting and unusual outdoor sculpture is at hand–Woodstock’s Sculpture Fest 2012.  This year Sculpture Fest will be a two exhibition event.  On Saturday, July 28, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the opening event, “Poetry on the Land” will be held at King Farm, with a special viewing of Bonnie Gale’s “Living Willow” installed on the adjoining Prosper Road site.  On Saturday, September 1, Sculputre Fest’s second stage, themed “Living Art,”  will be held at the Prosper Road venue.

The King Farm, site of Sculpture Fest’s July event, is an exceptional example of a 19th-century Vermont hill farm that still has most of its original buildings intact.  The property includes 154 acres of farm and forest land bordered by the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Historic National Park, and located close to the October Country Inn.  The King Farm was a bequest to the Vermont Land Trust from Francisca King Thomas in 1986.  In order to ensure that this property is properly maintained in the spirit of preserving the land for ongoing public enjoyment, the farm is in the process of being incorporated into the M-B-R National Park.

Sculpture Fest 2012 will host the works of more than 20 local artists.  The works range from forged steel, sound installations, ceramic sculpture, welded sculpture, mixed media three dimensional work, mosaic, wood sculpture, transformed found objects, and more.  A workshop by John Bieling is planned.

King Farm is located at the end of King Farm Road.  From the October Country Inn, follow Route 4 east for about 5 miles.  As you enter West Woodstock, at the intersections with Prosper Road and Rose Hill Road, veer left onto Rose Hill Road, than left on King Farm Rd.

The Prosper Road venue is located at 509 Prosper Road.  Instead of taking Rose Hill Road, turn left on Prosper Road.  This venue is located on the left, about 1/2 mile up the road.   A footpath also connects King Farm to the Prosper Road venue.

 

Bridgewater Corners for didgeridoos–who knew?

It’s a little known fact that Bridgewater Corners, Vermont is a hotbed for hand-crafted didgeridoos.  Kai Mayberger, creator, owner, operator, and sound engineer-in-chief of White Raven Drum Works, is the person you can blame for this rare quirk of nature.

White Raven Drum Works, Bridgewater Corners, Vermont

Fortunately, White Raven offers more than didgeridoos–hand-made from exotic woods. Hand-made Askido drums, and wooden flutes are also available for the discerning music lover.

The didgeridoo is a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians about 1,500 years ago and is still in widespread use today in Australia and around the world.  It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or “drone pipe.”  Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone.  A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical, and can measure anywhere from 3 to 10 feet long.  The length is directly related to the 1/4 tone wavelength of the keynote.  Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower the pitch or key.

Didgeridoos for you.

Kai, a native of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, was born into a family of crafts people.  His mother was a potter.  His father was a weaver.  Kai was fascinated with sharp tools as a child, and carved every piece of wood he could find while rummaging around his parents Cornwall, Vermont crafts shop.

While attending Vermont’s Goddard College, Kai studied drum design and construction as his senior project.  As a respite from drum studies, he started fooling with carved wooden flutes.  Also during his college years, Kai discovered a Boston based musical group called Outback.  The group’s frontman, Dr. Didge, played the didgeridoo.  Kai became fascinated with didgeridoos, and began investigating what made them sound the way they do and how they are made.

White Raven Drum Works’ collection of Askidos.

Kai turned his youthful fascinations into a product line, and White Raven Drum Works was born.  He first set up shop in the Bridgewater Mill building in 1993.  He moved to his present location in Bridgewater Corners in 1998.

While visiting the October Country Inn, you need to stop by.  Whether or not you ever thought that you needed a hand-made wooden didgeridoo, an Askido, or a melodic wooden flute, you at least need to be exposed to the magic of their sounds, and the beauty of Kai’s handiwork.

The man himself–Kai Mayberger.