Westport, Mass. & Tiverton, RI
by Don Wilkinson
Just south and southeast of the old Massachusetts industrial mill city of Fall River are the border towns of Tiverton, Rhode Island and Westport, in the Bay State. The two have much in common beyond a shared town line as visual pastoral paradises, with more than a few working farms, that give way to stunning views of rivers, estuaries and the ocean. They also share a combined cultural community of excellent galleries, working studios, musical venues and fine restaurants that would delight any visiting connoisseur of the arts.
A good place to start is at Sandy- woods Farm, off of Bulgarmarsh Road in Tiverton. It is a unique “intentional community” of homeowners and renters, devoted to promoting and supporting the arts, sustainable agriculture, affordable housing and land stewardship. The Farms are the home of the Sandywoods Center for the Arts (43 Muse Way), offering affordable “BYOB and-picnic” concerts every weekend throughout the summer. The eclectic musical offerings range from classical to hip-hop, Celtic and zydeco.
The Van Vessem Gallery (63 Muse Way) is a progressive contemporary art gallery opened by Dutch- born painter Marika Van Vessem in April 2013. Until July 20, a series of enthralling ink jet prints done on reclaimed aluminum newspaper printing plates and paintings by collaborators David Barnes and Dan McManus will be displayed. August will feature an exhibition by the husband and wife artist team of Dan Powell and Cynthia Farnell; September sees an installation by Brooke Mullis Doherty.