30 years of chipping away: West Rutland’s Carving Studio

Robert Layman / Staff Photo

Robert Layman / Staff Photo

By George V. Nostrand
THE ARTS

Spring has finally returned to West Rutland. The robins hop across the grass and in, around and upon the sculptures at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center, as director Carol Driscoll walks through the sculpture garden, talking about this year’s artists-in-residence and the center’s 30th anniversary.

0504-loc-local-invite-sculpLocated on the former site of the Vermont Marble Company, the Carving Studio draws artists from around the world. Normally, the studio invites two to three artists to work for a month during the summer. These artists-in-residence stay in the area and work on whatever they like during the time they are here. Due to the nature and size of the projects, many are still on view on the grounds of the Carving Studio.

“There is an advisory committee of a dozen artists who have either taught here or have been resident artists,” explained Driscoll. “We present all the work (to the committee), which usually includes a proposal of what they want to do, a C.V. (résumé) and some images. These six were selected out of about 25 applicants. Typically, we only do three a year, but this year we are doing six.”

stands next to Leonidas Chalepas’ marble sculpture “Two empty spaces divided by a wall” — one of her favorite pieces created last year.

stands next to Leonidas Chalepas’ marble sculpture “Two empty spaces divided by a wall” — one of her favorite pieces created last year.

While this year there are artists from Italy and India as well as Oregon, New York and Pennsylvania, there was also a Vermonter selected. Sean Williams is a second-generation stone carver from Barre, well known for its granite quarries and stonework. Williams’ father, Jerry Williams, is the owner of Barre Sculpture Studio, which opened around the same time as the Carving Studio.

Sean Williams welcomes the opportunity for the same reason many artists desire a residency. Normally, Williams is working on commissions or doing multiple jobs for other people. A residency allows an artist the time, space and materials to work on whatever he or she chooses.

Williams was also recently chosen to participate in a national competition that will take place in New York City in late June. He will be one of 10 artists challenged to create a full-size portrait in clay in just four hours. They will be competing in front of a live audience for both cash prizes and the attention of judges and noteworthy people in the field.

“I will be doing as many portraits this summer as I can to get ready,” Williams said. “My goal is to get so I can do them in three hours, so I will be really prepared. Anyone is welcome to stop by and watch and I’ll need people to sit for those, too.”

This summer, the Carving Studio will also hold its 30th anniversary members’ show and is poised to work on a collaborative project with Mark Foley Properties, Green Mountain Power and Vermont Quarries in Danby. This initiative will lead to the creation of a sculpture that will be located in downtown Rutland, celebrating the area’s artistic roots as well as the ongoing rebirth of the community.

There is also already a “call to artists” for this year’s Sculptfest, which will take place Sept. 10 – Oct. 23 (information on the Carving Studio’s website). This year’s theme is “The State of Hope,” and it will be guest curated by Whitney Ramage.

Carving Studio & Sculpture Center
The Carving Studio & Sculpture Center is located at 636 Marble St., West Rutland. For more information, call 802-438-2097, email info@carvingstudio.org or visit carvingstudio.org.

George Nostrand

George Nostrand is a Vermont musician, writer and calendar editor for the Rutland Reader and Rutland Herald. You might see him around as his alter-ego, the front man for George's Back Pocket.

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