It wasn’t quite the proverbial “dark and stormy night,” but both snow and temperatures fell for the First Friday Gallery Walk in Brattleboro, Vermont, in December, diminishing crowds but not enthusiasm among those who made it. The festive downtown stroll is a monthly tradition with galleries, eateries and drinking venues all welcoming people from as far south as Northampton, Massachusetts, and as far north as Burlington.
December offered a special Gallery Walk night for folks to bundle up and face the weather. In addition to 36 venues showcasing art and many restaurants eager to serve house specialties, there were church holiday bazaars, craft fairs and an annual Children’s Holiday Craft Fair, featuring such items as beeswax candles, ornaments, journals and edible treats.
Heading south on Main Street from the intersection of Main and High, it’s always interesting to stop at River Garden, where opening exhibits are on display. In December, the fabric artist Carlene Raper showcased intricate, colorful quilts and other works in an exhibition called “Singing Colors.” Her quilts, made with pieced and dyed cotton, alpaca wool and batting have developed over 40 years. A drawing called “Cornfield,” a pastel landscape created in 1975 when Raper was a student at Bennington College, is the earliest work in the exhibition, while the most recent work, “Mama’s Last Sunset,” was created in 2019 as a tribute and memorial to her mother. In addition to fabric and drawn art, Raper also creates colorful wooden puzzles of her quilts.
Further on is the eclectic, delightful Gallery in the Woods. “Welcome Yule,” a holiday show by Karen Gaudette, featured black-and white scratchboard drawings celebrating Yuletide, inspired by medieval illustrations. Animal minstrels welcome back the sun with song and dance, surrounded by starry winter night skies. Another exhibit by ceramicist Lydia Gray, “The Community of Clay,” revealed her work with clay and glazes as she moved from sculptural and narrative works to hand built functional pieces.