A change of space: Brattleboro-West Arts tour offers new locations

BRATTLEBORO — The fourth annual Brattleboro-West Arts Open Studio Tour on Sept. 29 and 30 will feature two new studio spaces and one familiar site with a new look.

As southern Vermont's autumn colors grace the landscape, 16 local craftspeople and artists will open their doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The tour will feature active demonstrations, with original craft and artwork on display and for sale at 13 sites just off the beaten path in West Brattleboro, Marlboro, and Dummerston.

New stops on this year's tour include the Mahalo Art Center at 972 Western Ave., and the studio of painter and metal sculptor Ron Karpius at 259 Greenleaf St. Also, painters Petria Mitchell and Jim Giddings have renovated the studio and gallery space in their 1700s Cape Cod house and barn at 447 Stark Road.

According to its website, the Mahalo Art Center “promotes wholeness and wellness: building awareness, confidence, creativity and healthy community, through multi-cultural, ancient and modern, nature-based expressive and centering arts.”

During the 2012 tour, the center will exhibit the works of photographer Gene Parulis. One of the newest members of Brattleboro-West Arts, Parulis said he immediately felt the venue, which sits in a tranquil sloping meadow removed from the traffic of busy Western Avenue, was a good fit for his work.

“When I visited Mahalo Art Center and met its creator, Luz Elena Morey, for the first time, I was struck by the pervading sense of harmony and light, which produced a lovely atmosphere of welcome,” said Parulis. “The center's space invites mindfulness and contemplation. What better place, I thought, to exhibit my photographic prints, many of which represent journeys, both outer and inner.”

Although he's a veteran of the open studio tour, Karpius will be welcoming the public into his own studio for the first time this year. In the past, he has exhibited his work adjacent to the workshop of violin maker Douglas Cox.

Visitors to Karpius's space will find a wooded property dotted with large-scale sculptures and bisected by a winding stretch of Ames Hill Brook. A sturdy footbridge, which replaces one washed away last year by Tropical Storm Irene, leads to the artist's cabin. Inside, his living space and work space mingle where he creates his pieces that range from 3-inch-square oil paintings to murals 40 feet wide to copper sculptures and weathervanes on a scale that dominate the small rooms.

Mitchell and Giddings recently completed renovations to an historical cape in the woods that will house Mitchell's painting studio. It is adjacent to their home and Giddings studio. The house is also the site for a gallery of paintings by the couple. There are plans to offer painting workshops in this new space with “the opportunity to share meditation and poetry in a beautiful, contemplative setting.”

Tour-goers will get a look at the couple's newest paintings in oils on canvas and paper, including many experimental works never before shown.

Brattleboro-West Arts (BWA) is an association of nearly 30 artists and craftspeople who live within the watershed of the Whetstone Brook. Participants in this year's tour represent disciplines as diverse as violin making, glass blowing, metalworking, boat building, painting, pottery, ceramic sculpture, and woodworking. Returning to the tour this year after a hiatus are woodworkers David and Michelle Holzapfel of Applewoods Studio in Marlboro and sculptor/collage artist Sharon Myers, whose creations will be on display at American Traders, 257 Western Ave.

In conjunction with the tour, the Chelsea Royal Diner in West Brattleboro will host a “localvore” dinner on Sept. 29. In addition to sampling a selection of locally produced foods, the public will have a chance to share a meal with BWA members. Also visitors will have the opportunity to enter a drawing at any tour stop to win one of two gift certificates, one for jewelry from silversmith Chris Lann and another for a meal at the Chelsea Royal Diner.

Since 2009, the annual tour has been organized and promoted by the participating artists and made possible in part by the support of local businesses and organizations.

Brochures with a map to all the 2012 tour sites are available at any tour stop and at various other locations, including the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce and American Traders, or by visiting

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