A TRANQUIL YET ENERGIZING CREATIVE CULTURE
If it’s creative rejuvenation you seek, then a trip to Johnson, Vermont is in order. The Gihon River meanders through the heart of town — at times bustling, and at other times perfectly calm. It’s an appropriate metaphor for the experience one has while visiting this celebrated artistic community, a place where one may simultaneously be energized and find tranquility, whether gathering inspiration and ideas from visiting one of the many artists’ studios or simply sitting in the sunshine, relaxing in an Adirondack chair outside the Wolf Kahn Studios.
WHAT TO SEE: Founded in 1984, the Vermont Studio Center (VSC) (80 Pearl St.) continues to be a vibrant community of visual artists and writers. Every month, it welcomes 50-60 new artists — painters, photographers, sculptors, writers and filmmakers — from across the country and the globe to engage in unrestricted time for creative work. During my visit, there were artists-in- residence from as far away as Argentina and Tibet. Here, artists find “creative conversation and connections,” in the words of painter Susan Melrath, who comes to the community from Seattle.
They also find themselves woven into the fabric of the community. The artists from Tibet visited the Johnson Elementary School to teach students about traditional Tibetan Thangka painting techniques. “Our Center enhances the creative culture of Johnson in partnership with local schools and colleges,” Tara Thacker, visual arts director, explained. (Johnson State College is just up the hill from the Vermont Studio Center.)
The greater community — and visitors — benefit as well. May kicks off with Vermont Artists Week, which runs through May 5 and features an Open Studio Tour on May 4. VSC’s Red Mill Gallery will feature prints by Karen Geiger and new works by Katie Brown through May 17. Also during May, visitors may enjoy VSC’s free lecture series featuring authors Terrance Hayes and Alison Hawthorne Deming and artists Enrique Martinez Celaya, Elana Herzog and Sopheap Pich. In June, award-winning digital artist Andrea Polli and poet Srikanth Reddy will be featured speakers.