FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2012
Contact: Martha Fitch, Director
Vermont Crafts Council
2012 MARKS 20 YEARS OF VERMONT SPRING OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND
Studio Tours Set Throughout the State on May 26 and 27
Vermont Crafts Council Honors Besett and Gasperetti
By Anne Majusiak
Yellow signs will once again dot the Vermont landscape over Memorial Day Weekend, leading locals and tourists alike to the workspaces of 259 artists and craftspeople who will open their studios to the public for Vermont Open Studio Weekend’s landmark 20th year.
2012 is a milestone for Open Studio Weekend as its organizer, the Vermont Crafts Council, marks the 20th year of this annual event with the studio tour set for May 26th and 27th. Open Studio is a unique opportunity for people to meet a wide variety of artists and craftspeople in their studios, some of which are only open to the public during this two-day event. Visitors will be able to learn how art and craft is made at the studios of glass blowers, jewelers, printmakers, potters, furniture makers, weavers, ironworkers, painters, sculptors, quilt makers and wood carvers. Many galleries will also host gallery talks and feature special exhibits in conjunction with Vermont Open Studio Weekend.
The Crafts Council will honor two craft studios that have been part of Open Studio for all 20 years: Glassblowers Harry and Wendy Besett from Hardwick and furniture maker Bob Gasperetti from Mount Tabor. Also being honored by the VCC are other long-time participants including individuals, collaborative groups of artists, and organizations serving as information centers.
FROM LOGGERS TO TOURISTS, BESETT SHOWS GLASSBLOWING TO ALL
Harry and Wendy Besett’s glassblowing studio is across the driveway from their home just outside the village of Hardwick in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Harry says he loves to show visitors during Open Studio Weekend how he blows glass, especially the local loggers, farmers or contractors who are curious about his work but may feel hesitant to just stop by. Besett says the old-timers love to watch the process and will say “This reminds me of the blacksmith that used to live around here.”
Harry not only demonstrates glassblowing during Open Studio, he also gets visitors to take part in it. Besett says, “Some visitors are hesitant to enter the glassblowing area. They stand on the threshold looking in because they’re afraid of interfering. If 5 or 10 people are watching, we get to talking shop and they relax. Pretty soon I’ll say, here—hold this for a second, and before you know it they’re taking part in the process. After 5-10 minutes they get a real sense of it. It’s my favorite part of doing Open Studio!“
Wendy, who creates the imagery on their signature “landscape” pieces with thin layers of pulverized, colored glass, also handles the business aspects of the studio. She says they typically see around 100 visitors each day of Open Studio Weekend, both those who want to learn about the process and those who want to see glass that is for sale. She says, “We try to fulfill people’s expectations. Sales are welcome, but that’s not why we do Open Studio.”
All sorts of people visit the studio over the two-days. Wendy says, “We’ve had a scientist come in and explain the science behind molten glass. One of our favorite people is an elderly woman who stopped by every year until she recently moved into a nursing home. She came to the very first Open Studio and was so glad to see glassblowing because her grandfather had run the Mt. Washington Glass Company in New Bedford. She had great stories and loved the idea that glassblowing had come back around again. It was the beginning of a long friendship with her.”
During Open Studio Weekend, the Besett’s consistently see about 1/3 local, 1/3 from around the state, and 1/3 out-of-state visitors. Wendy says Open Studio is an opportunity to discover the inner workings of a studio for anyone who has ever been curious about how craft and art is made. It also gives Vermonters a reason to explore the state, she says, and she has discovered that many out-of-staters come specifically to visit Vermont over Memorial Day weekend because of Open Studio.
Wendy says, “I hear over and over the gratitude for the opportunity to see the studio. There’s a sense of appreciation that they are not being marketed to, but that it’s a way of having a chance to see and learn.”
GASPERETTI STUDIO FEATURES UNUSUAL WOODS, EXCEPTIONAL JOINERY AND A CONGENIAL HOST
Bob Gasperetti’s furniture studio is less than a mile off Route 7 near Manchester, tucked on a hill abutting the Green Mountain National Forest with a stunning view of Dorset Mountain looming to the west and Mount Tabor to the east. Visitors get to wander through all three floors of his large, open-span building, including a workshop on the first floor, a showroom on the top floor, and a drive-through basement full of lumber.
Gasperetti is well known for his mastery of traditional joinery—mortise-and-tenon, dovetails, sliding dovetails—techniques that have stood the test of time since the 18th century, and his workshop is full of hand-tools such as planes and chisels, along with the expected machines such as table saws and lathes. The light-filled showroom on the top floor has native pine floors that beautifully set off a constantly changing array of finished pieces: rockers, a pencil-post bed, a trestle table, chairs, a four-drawer chest, mirrors, a blanket chest and small tables. The drive-through basement holds rack upon rack of lumber Gasperetti has collected over the years. His furniture is all about beautiful wood—its color, unusual grain and distinctive character. He gets inspiration by browsing through the floor-to-ceiling stacks of hardwoods, with figured maple, cherry and walnut as his woods of choice. Unusual boards lay in wait, like his stack of “Robert Frost red pine” which he obtained through the Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury and which comes from trees that Frost planted with his son.
Gasperetti’s warm and congenial nature creates an instant connection with his visitors. They often tell their own stories to him beginning with “My father used to do this…” He has high praise for Open Studio Weekend and for its sponsor, the Vermont Crafts Council. “It’s an adventure for many people and an exciting event to turn people on to how things are made.”
Gasperetti is part of a local group of about 30 craftspeople and artists in the southwestern part of the state called “Artisans of Southern Vermont” that works together to draw attention to the dense cluster of artists in the region. The group has a website and a blog, and they’ve created a sub-tour of their area to make it easy for visitors to go from studio to studio within a few miles of each other during Open Studio Weekend. Similar groupings of studios are organized in Jericho and Brandon, although visitors also chart their own tours based on their particular interests by using the Studio Map and Guide.
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Anne Majusiak is a long-time supporter of Vermont craft. She has curated numerous craft exhibitions including the groundbreaking State of Craft exhibition in 2010 at the Bennington Museum that explored the history of the 50-year Studio Craft Movement in Vermont. She currently serves on the board of the Vermont Crafts Council and is a member of the Standards committee for the system of Vermont State Craft Centers.
ABOUT VERMONT SPRING OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND
Vermont Spring 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. 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.
Visitors return to Open Studio year after year, choosing different regions of Vermont to explore. Martha Fitch, executive director of the Vermont Crafts Council says that Open Studio Weekend is “new” each year because the groups of studio and gallery sites vary annually. According to Fitch, "About 40% of the map changes each year as studios take a year off, and new studios join the tour. This accounts for about 80 new sites every year and allows for new geographic clusters to emerge."
The Vermont Crafts Council publishes a free map booklet with directions to participating sites. The Vermont Studio Tour Guide is available at Vermont Information Centers, from individual studios and galleries, or by emailing a request to email@example.com.
The Vermont Crafts Council is a non-profit organization serving the Vermont visual arts community. Open Studio Weekend is supported by the farmers who own Cabot Creamery, The Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. Additional information about Open Studio Weekend can be found online at www.vermontcrafts.com/or by calling the Vermont Crafts Council at 802-223-3380.
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For additional press information or high-resolution photos about Vermont Open Studio Weekend, contact media coordinator Anne Majusiak at 802-453-4147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.