BTW Berkshire artists in West Stockbridge

The painter caught my eye, standing on the grass outside the old town hall. Straw hat and smock, pallette and easil — a plein air artist made of straw. On the easil, splashes of bright color announced that the Richmond-West Stockbridge Artists Guild has an exhibit running this weekend and next (Aug. 24 to 27 and Aug. 31 to Sept. 3) in the 1854 Town Hall.

I walked in the open door and discovered Margie Skaggs preparing for the opening, and she good-naturedly gave me a tour of the room and told me the history of her own stoneware pottery: delicate bowls finished with a Chinese celadon glaze the color of pale jade that goes back a thousand years or more; a thrown jug with curved sides shaped into flat planes and tinted with a Japanese Shiro glaze; wood-fired vessels.

Nearby, Joy Cameron’s soap-stone sculpture suggests two figures leaning together. She has named it Paolo and Francesca for the lovers in Dante’s Inferno who fell into each other’s arms over a book.

The show ranges over water colors, oils, drawings and photography, abstracts and landscapes and portraits, wood ducks on a melting pond, a heron in the tall grass.

The guild has been busy this summer, Skaggs tells me, and will keep going through the fall. Many of these artists will open their studios for informal visitors on Sept. 16 and Oct. 7, and the guild has an ongoing exhibit at the Berkshire Humane Society to benefit both groups.

On a quiet afternoon in a small town, it’s a wash of color: red-headed woodpecker, golden peaches, big sky country, purple garlic skin and frost on a mountain ridge.


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