At the end of July I visited the Panhandle of West Virginia to
find out more about Over the Mountain Studio Tour held in
Jefferson County every fall. They host a 2-day preview exhibit
in Shepherdstown to give you a sampling of the art offered
during the studio tour later in the year. I not only got a great
impression of the art and artists, I also discovered a
fascinating artist tale just across the Maryland border at
Antietam National Battlefield.
|My sketch of a farm in the
middle of Antietam battlefield next to the cornfield.
The white towels drying on the washing line made me
wonder if it
looked like that during the war, or
perhaps was a field hospital.
Artists have long played an important role in war. They document
battles and often highlight the horror, brutality and sadness of
battle. A photo or painting can capture a poignant moment
between soldiers or civilians. Capt. James Hope of the 2nd
Vermont Volunteer Infantry, was a landscape painter before
hostilities broke out. He took part in 11 battles during the
Civil War and became a map maker and scout.
|A Crucial Delay by Captain James
Hope - one of the 5 large paintings. Image courtesy of
the U.S. National Parks Service website. The image is a
public domain image.
After the war he became famous for five12 foot long paintings
based on sketches he did during the carnage at Antietam. He
built his studio
and gallery in Watkins Glen, NY where he exhibited the
paintings. It closed and fell in to disrepair after his death in
1892. Much of his work was damaged or destroyed by a flood in
the 1930's. The five paintings of Antietam were bought by a
collector who hung them in the eaves of a church where they got
even more damaged by neglect, birds and rodents.
The Witness to Battle exhibit entrance at the National
Parks Service museum,
Antietam National Battlefield park.
Fast forward to 1979 when the U.S. National Park Service stepped
in and bought the paintings. It was no easy matter to rescue the
5 paintings. Not only were they damaged but each painting
weighed over 200 lbs and was fixed in to the wall with 6 inch
The curators worked some magic and there is now a small gallery
show "The Witness to Battle" of the five paintings in the museum
at the visitors center at the Antietam National Battlefield
Park. Although some of the original works are almost all gone,
they have recreated them by using a photograph image the same
size as the original. It is an impressive exhibit. We must all
extend a heartfelt thank you to the U.S. Park Service!
sepia pen sketch of the Burnside Bridge at Antietam.
The small town of Shepherdstown in West Virginia is a delight.
They support the arts, enjoy good restaurants, art galleries, a
farmer's market and fun shops. The Bistro 112 on the main street
not only has excellent food but also a
fabulous and electic art collection on display. It is
part of the owner's personal collection. She is happy to tell
you about each artist and where she bought it and why. The town
is a great base to explore the area and visit places like
Antietam and Harper's Ferry.
sketch of a section of the main street in Shepherdstown,
viewed from the upstairs dining room of Bistro 112
This year Over the Mountain Studio Tour
tour is the weekend of 14/15 November when 9 studios host 24
artists and they open their doors to the public. A good mix of
art and craft is on show from artist Anne Bowers beautiful
heirloom baskets, Charles Steven Adams wonderful hand-hewn wood
bowls to Joe Mayer's abstract paintings and much more. There is
an excellent brochure with a rough map and information on the
artists and a website. It's a pleasant drive through the
countryside to get to all the studios and an easy two-day
Part of the owner of Bistro 112's art collection in one
of the dining areas upstairs.
The restaurant is in a historic house, is very
atmospheric and serves good food.
In September the Jefferson County Chamber hosts a 3-day Fall
Festival. This year the 40th Fall Annual Fall Festival is 25-27
September exhibiting about 200 artists. Check out their website
listed below for details and information.
A little further north the artists of Berkeley Springs WV, host
a studio tour 25-26 October. For information and maps, see the
website listed below.
The brochure for Over the Mountain Studio Tour gives
information, directions, maps and advice.
Excellent info on the Hope paintings from the National Park