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The Arts

Tiny art at the ‘Louvre of Londonderry’

Muralist Kim Ray assembles an exhibition of miniature works

LONDONDERRY—Perhaps it takes someone who works big to see the beauty in things small.

Kim Ray is a muralist who paints sides of walls that can be as big as 6 feet by 24 feet. Precisely because it would be completely opposite from the way she usually works, she conceived of the current exhibition for her Londonderry gallery as “The World’s Tiniest Art Show.”

The show features 11 members of the Mountain Painters and Artisans group exhibiting more than 50 miniature and small works in watercolor, oil, pastel, fiber, cut paper, mosaic, jewelry, and mixed media. It will remain open until the end of May at Ray’s studio and gallery, now known as the “Louvre of Londonderry.”

After all her work on such a grand scale, Ray feels the special delight of the small.

“The charm of miniature art is in part because it can be held in the palm of the hand,” she said. “Miniatures entered the world of art as a new genre as early as the 16th century. To this day, these works, with their specific techniques, diminished format, and reduced scale, continue to evolve and remain popular with artists around the world.”

Of all the artists in the show, it is Ray herself — the one who normally has the largest works to display — who has the smallest pieces here. She is pleased that all of the small works are under $100, making fine art affordable for everyone.

Ray has been working as a muralist since 1995, at first only part time. After 2001, however, she quit her job as an educator so that she could dedicate herself full time to her craft. She has painted murals for people and businesses in and outside Vermont.

After she completed a Vermont mural depicting the four seasons for the Mountain Market Place in Londonderry, she decided on a whim to e-mail and invite then-Gov. Jim Douglas to the public unveiling of this mural last Nov. 28.

She never expecting a reply, but not only did Douglas graciously respond, but to her surprise and delight, he agreed to attend the opening.

Ray created her gallery when her 10-by-15-foot studio at home proved small for her needs. “After receiving a too large of a commission for the children’s area at the Northshire Bookstore [in Manchester, Vt.], I had to find a wall to paint it on,” she said.

The space she found in Mountain Marketplace turned out to be so large that she decided also to open a gallery there, for herself and other artists in the area.

“After opening the art studio as an ‘open studio,’ curious people and local artists would stop in to share in the process of art. Inspiring art discussions and exchanges occurred,” she said.

“There was a need for all that wonderful creativity of the artists to be showcased, and that is how the Mountain Painters and Artisans was established,” Ray said.

“We are not a typical gallery,” she continued. “We are a community group of artists that support each other in our creative endeavors and bring that inspiration out into the community. We use each other’s strengths to become successful in the arts. We also have several supportive members that have joined due to their love of the arts and their goal as well to extend the arts into the community.”

The Mountain Painters and Artisans is comprised of 11 local artists who work in diverse media: Martha Stevenson, folk art paintings; Vicki Greene, handmade collectible artisan dolls and fabric art; Ken Ahlering, traditional realistic oil paintings; Diane Bell, watercolor paintings; Linda Carthaus, luminous oil landscapes; Mona McGreevy, native birch bark paintings made with materials from the mountains; Esther Fishman, pastel landscapes; Lisa Sicotte, scherenschnitte (hand-cut paper scenes from nature); Elinor Katz, mosaic designs on vintage furnishings; Bob Ray, plein air Vermont oil landscapes; and, of course, Ray herself, who besides murals also works in many other media to display in the Louvre of Londonderry.

The reason for Ray’s gallery’s name, the Louvre of Londonderry, is an inside joke: two of the artists in the group have the first names “Mona” and “Lisa.”

Recently, Ray received a call from a 12-year-old girl from Pennsylvania who was planning to write a report on the “World’s Tiniest Art Show.” Ray asked the girl how she could possibly know of her exhibition.

The young student explained that someone had posted information about it on the Internet. Ray was thrilled that someone living so far away could be touched by her art.

“It was more exciting than Gov. Douglas coming to my unveiling!” she said.

“The Artist’s Garden & Flower Art Show,” the next gallery show, will open during Vermont Open Studio Weekend 2011, which runs Memorial Day weekend, May 28- 29.

“Each artist of Mountain Painters and Artisans displays unique, one-of-a-kind original work that has been inspired by living in Vermont and nature. .

Ray invites the public to meet the artists and see art demonstrations and experience the creative process throughout the day.

The Louvre of Londonderry is located at the Mountain Market Place at the junction of Routes 11 and 100 in Londonderry. The gallery is open Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment, by calling Ray at 802-824-6555.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #97 (Wednesday, April 20, 2011).

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