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The work of Jason Ballard will be featured at the newly organized Grafton Valley Arts Guild’s first public event on Sunday, March 20.

The Arts

Grafton Valley Arts Guild bursts upon the scene with inaugural show on March 20

GRAFTON—Adam Howard wants to make Windham County a center for the arts.

With the many artists living and working in the area, and the region’s proximity to and easy access from both New York and Boston, Howard, a blacksmith, believes that Grafton has the potential to become a major destination for art lovers over a wide area.

Howard serves as president of the newly-organized Grafton Valley Arts Guild, which will present its inaugural event, Sustaining The Arts, Sustaining Communities, on Sunday, March 20, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Old Tavern’s Phelps Barn.

The guild is a nonprofit marketing cooperative supporting the arts within the village and its surrounding communities.

Members include a dozen artists working in many media, such as painting, sculpture, wood, textiles, and pottery. Howard would like to see that list to many other media in the visual arts, but also to performance art.

Though Grafton is at the center of its activities, the guild also will consider accepting artists from anywhere in Windham County. The goal, Howard says, is to represent the best artists in southern Vermont.

All artists in the guild are jury selected, according to rather rigorous stands.

“We want to set the bar rather high,” Howard says.

He explains that the jury consists of four officers of the guild and two non-guild members, so that selection can be more objective.

Drawn by the beauty of the historic Vermont village — he had lived in northern Vermont for several years — Howard moved to Grafton from New Jersey last year.

He now operates the Windham Foundation’s Grafton Forge blacksmith shop, which has expanded from a seasonal to a year-round operation.

In fact, Howard enumerates many changes in Grafton, including the Grafton Village Cheese Company’s specialty cheese and wine store, which opened last July, and new management at the Old Tavern at Grafton. Both enterprises are owned and operated by the nonprofit Windham Foundation.

Cheese and collages

In Sunday’s one-night-only show, the guild will feature the architectural collage works of Campion Tillbrook, whose work is reminiscent of Art Deco design, and the elegant wood sculpture and furniture of Jason Ballard of My Minds Design.

Also featured will be the award winning Ascutney Mountain cheese from the Cobb Hill Cooperative in Hartland.

At 5:30 p.m., there will be a screening of ReGeneration, a short film by Vermont Public Television about Cobb Hill’s focus on sustainability.

Howard will make a few brief remarks, followed by a meet-and-greet with guild members. Visitors can apply to become a guild member and view the guild’s new gallery space, in the Cricketers Building directly across the street from the inn.

The gallery is scheduled to open April 15.

For further information about the event and the Grafton Valley Arts Guild, contact Howard or Bryce LeVan Cushing, the Guild’s treasurer, at 802-843-1162.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #92 (Wednesday, March 16, 2011).

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