Midway through its two-week life, Art-at-the-Mill is once again demonstrating why it has become one of the preeminent stops of the Mid-Atlantic’s fall art tour season. Much of the success of the show is due to the dedication and long hours contributed by Clarke County Historical Association director Jennifer Lee and her dedicated team of stalwart volunteers.
“This is the 14th Art at the Mill show I’ve been involved with, the 11th I’ve managed, and it is so gratifying to see the show’s outreach grow with every show – artists, patrons, volunteers, and visitors with diverse backgrounds, interests, and origins,” said Lee at the Art-at-the-Mill Artist’s Reception on Sunday. “I have immense gratitude and respect for the people with the vision and dedication that came before – namely, Sally Trumbower and Roger Chavez, who left a great legacy and set such a high standard. I think they would be gratified to see what they built continuing on with such great energy and success.”
This year’s show features 250 extraordinary artists from eleven states with 42 of the artists participating in Art-at-the-Mill for the first time. The show features over 1,200 works in nearly all mediums including oil, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, pencil, ink, etching, sculpture, pottery, woodwork, and glass.
This year’s Art-at-the-Mill is the 41st show in 21 years.
“Today’s Artists Reception exemplifies how so many people – over 400 in attendance just today – come together to enjoy great art, Geneva Jackson’s fine culinary offerings, a joyful gathering, and strong support of this event,” Lee said. “It takes a lot of effort from a lot of people – the artists, the volunteers, the tiny CCHA staff, the patrons – to make Art at the Mill the celebratory and successful event it is and everyone plays an equally valuable role.”
The Art-at-the-Mill Artist’s Reception offers patrons and artists an opportunity to feast together over hors d’oeuvres and fine art. Painter Francine D’Antuono from Montgomery County, Maryland is exhibiting her equine painting at the show for the third time. D’Antuono says that Art-at-the-Mill offers an excellent venue for artists to sell their work.
“I’ve got four paintings here and I’ve already sold one!” said D’Antuono.
D’Antuono, who is an illustrator for zoos and aquariums when she isn’t painting, says that she recently began painting again after a 25-year hiatus.
“A few years ago I began riding horses again after my husband and I bought a home in rural Montgomery County,” D’Antuono said. “When I got back into riding I also decided to do some paintings for our new home. One thing lead to another and now I’m exhibiting my work at shows across the country.”
D’Antuono said that she is also pleased that husband has been able to participate in her painting revival.
“My husband is a woodworker and he makes all of my picture frames,” remarked D’Antuono.
Art-at-the-Mill generally sells about 400 pieces of art at every show said Jennifer Lee. The money provides welcome revenue for the artists and adds beauty to the lives of the art buyers. Lee said that 70% of the sale commission goes to the artist while 28% is retained by the Clarke County Historical Association to operate and maintain the mill and museum. 2% of the sales commission is donated to the Sarah P. Trumbower Memorial Scholarship fund and the Trumbower Arts Grant.
“Art-at-the-Mill puts around $100,000 in our artists’ pockets by adorning the homes of our purchasers.”
Painter Doris Jenkins of Fairfax, Virginia said that part of the pleasure of exhibiting at Art-at-the-Mill for her is the beautiful country venue.
“I love coming to this beautiful mill in the Spring and Fall,” said Jenkins. “The country-style art here is really exceptional.”
Jenkins is a student of the well-known Fairfax artist and art educator John Young. Young’s work is internationally recognized and on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
Patrons at Sunday’s reception were treated to wall after wall of beautiful art, delicious food and drink. However, managing 250 artists and 1,200 works is no small task. Jennifer Lee says that the event takes months of planning and coordination and over forty volunteers are needed each year to make the show a success.
“I was approached by several artists today who said Art at the Mill was the best organized, best energized, best sales, and most fun show they had been a part of,” Lee said. “This is a wonderful testament to how this show serves so many – the artist community, art-lovers, Clarke County, and the drive-by traveler who happens to stop in, having no idea what this place offers. I am among many people who feel very lucky to be part of this special place and event.”
The Burwell-Morgan Mill, the venue for Art-at-the-Mill, was built in 1785 as a commercial gristmill. With the exception of about 20 years in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Mill has been in constant operation. The Mill was acquired by the Clarke County Historical Association in 1964 and has since undergone two extensive renovations. The Mill is open for grinding every Saturday from May to November except during the art show and open every weekend for tours during that season.
Art-at-the-Mill runs from October 1st thru October 16th, Sunday through Friday from 12pm – 5pm and Saturday from 10pm – 6pm. Admission is $5/adult, $3/senior (60+) and free for students.