Ringing in the Irish and art at First Friday


B y Jaime Thomas

Portraits, crepes and Irish heritage will all be in full swing at this month’s First Friday tomorrow evening, March 7.

Embracing one of the ethnic groups that bolstered the industry, the Slate Valley Museum will celebrate the region’s Irish just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. There will be live, traditional Irish music and refreshments including soda bread, tea and scones along with a special display of artifacts from the museum’s collection.

“Fleeing the Great Famine in 1847, the Irish arrived in great numbers soon after quarrying began in the Slate Valley,” said Serena Kovalosky, who does marketing and exhibitions for the museum.

Across the bridge, the Pember Library and Museum will feature three artists and baked-good offering.

Nancy DeBona, owner of Crackers Crepes and Crisps Home Bakery, will offer some of her unique bakery items, which she typically sells at local farmers markets.

Gigi Zeitler, a Middle Granville resident and portrait artist, will display her life-like oil paintings. Zeitler is a professional artist whose work ranges from sewing to jewelry-making to painting.

She has a bachelor’s degree in art from Douglass College and Rutgers University and continued her education at Parsons School of Design and the Graduate School of Architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology. She studied under portrait artist Paul McCormack for over five years and has done workshops at the Woodstock School of Art with portrait artist Lois Woolley and contemporary master HongNian Zhang, officials said.

Photographer George Bouret, of West Pawlet, will display his work from “Portraits at the Fair.”

He made a living as a freelance photographer for nearly 30 years specializing in the documentation and reproduction of artwork, portrait, fashion and architectural photography, according to his artist’s bio.

“As a fine art documentary photographer George Bouret is interested the spaces people create at home and at work. He also has a strong interest of the great landscapes having traveled and photographed extensively in Alaska and the American Southwest.”

The third artist is Salem resident Ruthanne Hunter.

In her bio she said since high school she has tried her hand at many types of art including needlework, clay, painting, needlefelting, carving and more. After taking a painting class in Salem, she found she loved to paint and eventually took lessons from Hartford artist Janine Thomas.

“I cold-called her to ask if she gave lessons.  I joined her Tuesday morning class for about 6 months and loved every minute,” Hunter said. She also described her work with glass bead making and lampworking.

“I make the beads into wearable jewelry and love it when I see someone wearing my creations,” she said.

First Friday is free and takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. at both museums. For more information about the Slate Valley Museum call 642-1417 or visit slatevalleymuseum.org. For the Pember call  642-1515 or visit Pember.sals.edu or pembermuseum.com.

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