Monadnock Art celebrating 25th annual art tour

  • Joan Barrows of Peterborough is one of more than 60 artists participating in the 25th annual Monadnock Art Tour, Oct. 9-11. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Tables created by Alan Melad of Peterborough. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/7/2021 3:04:37 PM

Artists around the Monadnock region will open their creative worlds to the public this weekend, as the Monadnock Art Tour celebrates its 25th annual open studio tour.

Forced to cancel the annual tour in 2020 and postpone the milestone anniversary festivities last fall, Monadnock Art/Friends of the Dublin Art Colony returns with more than 50 studios and 60-plus artists that will make for a weekend full of artistic exploration.

For Joe Caracappa, president of the Monadnock Art board, marking a quarter-century of the tour is something to marvel at.

“We don’t know of very many in New Hampshire or New England that’s been going on that long,” he said.

The self-directed tour will be held Oct. 9-11 across seven towns in the region, with studios open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. The artists range in longevity on the tour, from some that are brand new to others that have been around for some time.

“Quite a few of the artists from the first one are out there and in the tour,” Caracappa said.

Joan Barrows of Peterborough has been participating in the tour on and off for a decade. She’s spent time on the Monadnock Art board, including six years as vice president.

For years she worked in oils, but in the last year has been using acrylics.

“I found them much friendlier to use,” Barrows said.

She specializes in animals – birds, cows, bears – true to size and realistic in detail.

Last year, she started a bird mural project using an old drop cloth and loved the process, tacking it up to her close to 200-year-old barn door for the creative process.

She asked other painters for old drop cloths, but didn’t have much luck. So she has been buying new ones and creating six-foot by nine-foot works, all from photographs.

Barrows said participating in the tour is a big commitment.

“Once you make the decision to do it, you have to concentrate on building up your inventory,” she said. “You work potentially for a year for this three-day event. It’s a multi-step process bringing artwork to where people can buy and see it. But it’s an opportunity for people to see how and where it’s created.”

She will have both her large murals and smaller framed pieces for sale.

Alan Melad of Peterborough has been making furniture since the late 1960s, but this will be just his sixth year on the tour. He does it because he enjoys showcasing his modern style of furniture making. Melad makes a lot of tables that are minimal in terms of form and shape, but show off his love of geometry. One thing he’s big on is functionality.

The tour doesn’t always equate to a lot of sales over the weekend, but it has led to future projects.

“I’m doing what I want to do because I want to do it,” Melad said. In addition to small furniture pieces, Melad will also have cutting boards and boxes, as well as bookends complete with a three-inch cast iron ball.

“That was a good seller,” he said.

The region’s oldest art tour, The Monadnock Art Open Studios Tour, is held each October during the peak of foliage season. Art lovers enjoy a fall weekend touring the beautiful countryside of southwestern New Hampshire through the towns surrounding Mount Monadnock: Dublin, Hancock, Harrisville, Jaffrey, Marlborough, Peterborough, and Sharon and following the distinctive Art Tour signs to the often tucked-away places where artists work their magic.

Up until 2019, the tour was limited to 50 studios, but this will be the second year where participation has been open to more artists.

“All things considered, we are thrilled to have this many,” Caracappa said of the close to 70 artists. “And we have a very good representation across all mediums, all over the area.”

Works by painters, printmakers, potters, jewelers, sculptors, fiber artists, photographers, woodworkers, glass artists, and more are on display and for sale, often specially priced for the tour.

“For many artists, it’s their biggest selling event of the year,” Caracappa said.

Visitors can make the most of their weekend by previewing the artists in advance at https://monadnockart.org/plan-your-tour/ where they can also download a printable map to plot an itinerary.

“It lets you customize your tour,” Caracappa said. “Because visiting 50-plus studios is quite an undertaking.”

For those who prefer an “in person” sampling, can begin by visiting the preview exhibition at Bass Hall in the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in downtown Peterborough, where more than 100 works will be on display. Examples by each of the artists on the tour will be available for viewing, along with printed maps to take and follow over the course of the three-day holiday weekend.

“It’s a good place to see all the works and plan what artists you want to see,” Caracappa said.

During tour weekend, the exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. all three days, as well as on Thursday and Friday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Volunteers will be on hand at the Monadnock Center to help guide visitors during the tour weekend. Caracappa said it’s amazing to see how many people come from outside the area to take in the tour, with visitors from 46 states and eight countries checking out the exhibit in 2019.

“It does draw a lot of people to our area,” he said.

For those who can’t make it to the exhibition before or during the tour, it will be open for viewing Oct. 13-30, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. All the art in the show is available for sale.

Also at the Monadnock Center this month is an exhibit showcasing the works of the Dublin Art Colony artists, featuring 21 pieces on loan from private collections and historical institutions. It includes works by Abbott Handerson Thayer, who founded the group, along with George de Forest Brush, Joseph Lindon Smith, William Preston Phelps and Lilla Cabot Perry made up the first wave of artists in the Dublin Art Colony, while others like Richard Sumner Meryman, Barry Faulkner, Alexander James, Albert Duvall Quigley and Gouri Ivanov-Rinov.

Since many studios are in the artist’s homes, Monadnock Art asks that visitors respect the organization’s requirement that all artists adhere to current CDC guidelines for masks, occupancy, and social distancing for their own and visitors’ safety. Masks will be available at each studio for those who are without.

Melad will be displaying his furniture outdoors and will be limiting those going into his shop to five at a time.

“People are always interested in seeing the equipment and stacks of wood,” Melad said. “It’s disappointing but it’s the way it has to be.”

Barrows said the exposure is nice and none of it would be possible if not for the many volunteers who work year-round to pull off the tour.

“It’s a great community effort. They put so much work into the event every year,” she said. “It involves an awful to of people to make this happen.”

For more information and to view the printable map, visit https://monadnockart.org/plan-your-tour/.




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