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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 spikes.


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!



My 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.



My sketch of a section of the main street in Shepherdstown,

WV 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 adventure.



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 artist

information, directions, maps and advice.






Excellent info on the Hope paintings from the National Park Services at




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