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Farm to Gallery Exhibit Celebrates the Farming Heritage and Rural Landscape of Montgomery County’s A

A group exhibition by the Countryside Artisans of Maryland features a series of free community events at BlackRock September 16 through October 28 at BlackRock Center for the Arts

Celebrating the agricultural heritage and rural landscape of the region, the “Farm to Gallery” exhibit highlights the work of the Countryside Artisans of Maryland, a collective of visual artists, fine craft artisans, and makers whose studios, workshops, and farms are located in or near Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve.

The exhibit features works of fiber art, ceramics, hand blown glass, metalwork, sculpture, drawings, paintings, and photography by more than 25 members of the Countryside Artisans. Exhibiting artists include Lori Baker, Tina Thieme Brown, Dalis Davidson, Bruce Ferguson, Susana Garten, Vernon Griffin, Jennifer Hamilton, Todd Hansen, Foster Holcombe, Michael Cohen Holdahl, Claire Howard, Cynthia Jennings, Patricia Kessler, Brenda Kidera, Eun Ju Lee, Bonny Lundy, Penny McCrea, Orlando Morales, Kristen Morrison, Laurie Niswander, Susan Due Pearcy, Linda Phillips, Josh Ries, David Therriault, Bev Thoms, and Robin Ziek.

BlackRock Center for the Arts will present “Farm to Gallery: The Countryside Artisans” in the Kay Gallery from Saturday, Sept. 16 through Saturday, Oct. 28. The public is invited to a series of free community events which include a “Meet the Artists Reception” on Sunday, Sept. 17 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Many of the artists are located in the UpCounty Germantown/Clarksburg area:

Maryland native Brenda Kidera, of Woodbine, is a classical realist painter, working in oil, watercolor, and acrylic to create works in landscape, wildlife, still life, and portrait. Kidera’s award-winning paintings have been exhibited extensively in juried group and solo shows and galleries across the U.S. Her paintings hang in private, corporate, and public collections. Kidera received her BFA degree from Towson University. After working for many years as a graphic designer and illustrator, she is now a full time painter and fine art instructor. Kidera lives in Woodbine with her husband, metal sculptor Ed Kidera, where her studio is surrounded by the rural countryside, gardens and wildlife which are inspiration for many of her paintings. www.kiderafineart.com

Artist Kristen Morrison, works from the Gallery East in Adamstown, where she paints in oil, acrylic and water media and has also explored installation, altered books, box assemblage and mixed media. Exhibitions of her work have been presented nationally, to include exhibitions at Yellow Barn Gallery, Glen Echo; New Century Artists Gallery, New York; Crestwood Art Gallery, Frederick; Southern Museum of Fine Arts, Las Vegas; Griffin Art Center, Frederick; Tubac Center of the Arts, Tubac, AZ; Artists Gallery, Frederick; Andre Zarre Gallery, New York; and Hodson Gallery, Frederick. Morrison earned her BA in Art at Hood College. In addition to her work as a fine artist, Morrison is a curator and gallerist at Gallery East. www.gallery-east.org

Lori Baker produces functional stoneware pottery in her MudPi Studios at Heron’s Meadow Farm in Woodbine. Lori Baker often creates stoneware mugs and teapots. This seems appropriate as she also grows tea at her Heron’s Meadow Farm, the first tea farm in the state of Maryland. Though she currently splits her time between the studio and the farm, both passions came to her later in life. www.mudpistudios.com

Inspiration surrounds artist Tina Theime Brown of Morningstar Studio in Barnesville, as she explores the rustic roads, patchwork fields, nearby woodlands, plants and animals inhabiting the magical landscape in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. The connection starts in her own backyard in Barnesville where Morningstar Studio sits in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain. Brown earned her MFA and BFA at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Her drawings, paintings and mixed media works have been widely exhibited and her botanical drawings have been published in numerous books. www.tinathiemebrown.com

Dalis Davidson is a shepherd, artist, dyer, painter, and felter whose Dancing Leaf Farm studio sits on a ridge overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain in Barnesville. Most often creating works in fiber, the artist hand dyes all of her materials using rich, saturated colors which she uses to create highly textured pieces using needle tools to hand felt a multitude of fibers on a silk chiffon base. Davidson also operates a small cottage industry at Dancing Leaf Farm featuring her own line of artisan yarns which she hand paints to achieve unusual color combinations from dyes which she hand mixes to achieve unique hues. Her popular studio shop also sells fiber for spinners and felters, her own line of knitting patterns and kits, as well as felted and hand knit wearable items, and jewelry. www.dancingleaffarm.com

A fine woodworker for more than 25 years, Vernon Griffin, of Damascus, takes an old-school approach to creating unique functional pieces using domestic and exotic hardwoods, solid joinery, and hand-rubbed finishes. In 2004, Vernon and his son Damien established 2 Griffins, a fine woodworking shop where they design and build one-of-a-kind wood furniture, cabinets, built-ins, mantles, shelving, lighting, and sculptures. The duo also offer sawmill services for custom lumber, trim and live edge slabs as well as design build services for kitchens, baths, and other projects. www.2griffins.com

Housed in a converted dairy barn, Dusty Road Pottery studio in Dickerson is where Jennifer Hamilton creates hand-painted, earthenware pottery and sculptural vessels. Using slabs of clay that are impressed with overlapping textures, the artist builds functional forms that often expose the tools used and her methods of construction. Hamilton’s glazes are carefully chosen to add color, accentuate texture, and make the surface safe for food. Hamilton also teaches classes in her studio. www.dustyroadpottery.net

After falling in love with ceramics in high school and taking advanced classes at the Corcoran School of Art on weekends, Michael Cohen Holdahl of Clarksburg went on to earn a BA in Art Education from the University of Maryland and a MA in Ceramics from the University of Northern Colorado. She was an art teacher in Maryland for 33 years and went on to teach as an adjunct professor in the Ceramics Program at Hood College in Frederick, MD. Holdahl creates in her private studio in Comus and exhibits on the Countryside Artisans Tour with artist Penny McCrea at Pastels & Porcelain in Clarksburg. She works primarily in hand building and potter’s wheel with porcelain clay and decorates her surfaces using expressionistic brushwork with decorative colored clay slips. www.mcholdahl.com

In her light-filled studio in Poolesville, which is actually a converted chicken coop at Lindenwood Farm, Claire Howard paints the country landscape that surrounds her farm. She uses a palette knife to create her richly textured oil paintings on canvas. Howard often chooses to paint the landscape, including the breathtaking vistas, rural back roads and farm scenes in the Agricultural Reserve. The artist is a graduate of Villanova University and studied Art, Architecture, and Design at Mount Vernon College and University of Maryland. She is known for suddenly pulling her truck, or bike, to the side of the road to photograph a certain moment when light will never be quite the same again. Howard’s work has been published in major periodicals and is included in numerous collections nationally and internationally. www.clairehoward.net

Whether at home in her Windsong Studio in Barnesville or travelling in the Adirondack Mountains, Cynthia Jennings draws inspiration from her surroundings. She earned a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Jennings has experience working in graphic design, antiques and architectural salvage. She apprenticed with Washington, DC muralist Byron Peck, and has painted murals and decorative finishes throughout the Metropolitan area. In 2000, Jennings began to focus on creating fine art paintings and jewelry made from reclaimed elements. www.windsongstudioart.com

Bonny Lundy paints in watercolor and oil both en plein air and in her Pleasant View Studio in Brookeville where she is inspired by the surrounding gardens and woodland areas. Her work has been exhibited at Atlantic Gallery, Orchard Gallery, Discoveries Gallery, and Baber Art Gallery as well as in many national juried competitions. Her paintings are included in many private and public collections including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Council on Aging and GEICO. www.bonnylundy.com

Penny McCrea, of Clarksburg, is a landscape artist working in pastels to capture the beauty of the countryside through nature’s changing patterns. In the early 1970s, McCrea settled in Maryland and now lives on a farm in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Having grown up in rural Western Pennsylvania, she is drawn to the rural landscape, especially farms, fields, woods and streams. Nearby Sugarloaf Mountain and the C & O Canal are close by and are recurring subjects. McCrea’s pastels appear realistic, but on closer examination, express an impressionistic quality. When traveling, she carries a backpack filled with her plein air art necessities. When inspired, she sketches, photographs and sets up her easel on location to paint with pastels. www.penelopemccrea.com

Orlando Morales is a fine art photographer and graphic designer who maintains his studio practice in Adamstown, near the foothills of Sugarloaf Mountain. After studying in France and Columbia, he worked with Columbian artisans and exported their crafts to France. Morales His photographic work has been presented in regional exhibitions. Morales, who works at Gallery East, earned a degree in Graphic Design from Frederick Community College in Frederick. www.gallery-east.org

To create her high fired ceramic sculpture, Laurie Niswander, of Damascus, builds the structure from leather hard slabs of clay, then sculpts the features and incorporates textures and shapes. She finishes the sculptures by applying an iron oxide surface treatment and doing a final firing at cone 7. Her work often explores themes that reflect the surrounding woodland environment in the Patuxent watershed of upper Montgomery County. Niswander studied at Montgomery College in Rockville and Maryland College of Art and Design in Silver Spring. Exhibitions of her work include The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, Frederick; and the Creative Crafts Council Show, Strathmore Mansion, Bethesda.

Since 1995 Susan Due Pearcy has been creating her prints, paintings and drawings Sugarloaf Studio in Barnesville. The artist earned her BS in Art from New York University and continued her studies in printmaking at the Art Students League in New York City, Fort Mason Art Center, the Graphic Arts Workshop in San Francisco, and numerous workshops. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in private and permanent collections which include the Pushkin Museum, Russia, the Chemalier Museum, France, Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina, National Gallery of Art (Rare Book Collection), Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Library of Congress, Washington, DC. www.susanduepearcy.com

On a beautiful farmette in Laytonsville, artist Linda Phillips transforms clay into wheel thrown and hand built functional pieces at Something Earthy Pottery Studio. The artist has converted several outbuildings on the property to house a pottery studio where she works and teaches, a gift gallery featuring artwork by other artists, and an outdoor music pavilion where she hosts “Music Under the Stars” concerts by local performers. Phillips earned her BA in Human Resources at Hood College in Frederick. She took her first pottery class with renowned potter Bill VanGilder and she has been hooked ever since. She has continued her studies at workshops, including Raku workshops taught by Ramon Camarillo. www.somethingearthy.com

Sculptor David Therriault has transformed his property in Beallsville, into a studio, sculpture garden and gallery. The artist, who is also a landscape designer, originally used the Alden Farms acreage to run a successful garden shop for 24 years. Therriault earned his BS in Horticulture from the Univeristy of New Hampshire and worked as an Assistant to Japanese Landscape Architect Hiko Mitani. Now the focus in the landscaped gardens and pathways at Alden Farms is the installations of stone sculptures. The large-scale and medium-sized works feature abstracted forms, often inspired by ancient symbols. Therriault generally works in limestone, granite, marble and sandstone and sometimes incorporates glass, steel, and other metals. The sculpture garden, where friendly dogs often greet visitors, is open to the public at any time. www.davidtherriault.net

Shepherdess and fiber artist Bev Thoms is inspired by the natural cycles of life and the landscape on her beautiful farm in Dickerson. She raises a flock of sheep for their fiber, shearing them in the spring, then carding, spinning, and dyeing their fleeces over the summer. As the weather chills in autumn, Thoms begins to felt and weave using the colorful fiber. In the winter months, when the demands of farm life are at their lowest ebb, the artist immerses herself in studio work. Thoms is a member of the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild and has exhibited her work in numerous exhibitions and galleries. For Countryside Artisans Tours, she shares her studio with other artists Tiewyan Artisans collective to which she invites other fiber artists to display their work alongside her own work.

The center will also host a free “Community Art Day: From the Countryside” event for all ages on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm offering drop-in activities including demonstrations by professional artists who are members of the Countryside Artisans, hands-on art making activities, and interactive gallery tours of the “Farm to Gallery” exhibit.

Unique to this exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to visit exhibiting artists and tour their studios, workshops, and farms during the “Countryside Artisans Fall Tour.”

The Countryside Artisans of Maryland is a collective of visual artists, fine craft artisans, and makers who offer seasonal self-guided tours on scheduled weekends when participating members open their studios, workshops, and farms to the public.

The Countryside Artisans Fall Tour will take place while the “Farm to Gallery” exhibition is on view, offering a unique opportunity for our visitors to go beyond the gallery and spend a day in the country, enjoy scenic drives, and meet the artists and makers in the settings that inspire their work every day.

Participating studios and farms will be open on Friday, Oct. 13, Saturday, Oct.14, and Sunday, Oct. 15 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Admission is free. For information and a map, visit: www.countrysideartisans.com


Top: Brenda Kidera - Matilda

Next: Kristen Morrison - Hawk Hill Barn

Next: Cynthia Jennings - Sugarloaf Spring Mist

Next: Penny McCrea - Confluence, Potomac and Monocacy Rivers

Next: Jennifer Hamilton - Pitcher, stoneware

Images provided by BlackRock Center for the Arts.

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