Special to Berkshires Week & Shires of Vermont
On Presidents Day weekend, 3 Pears Gallery made itself even more comfortable in the historic building on Dorset’s village green by expanding into the three rooms upstairs.
And to blow the bugle to announce the opening of the new space, venerable painter Arthur Jones -- a lifelong Dorset resident who continues to enjoy no small measure of fame and good fortune at age 85 -- was the featured artist at a reception.
"We love being in the heart of this village and having neighbors like Arthur," said Greg DeLuca, who owns 3 Pears Gallery with his wife Judith.
DeLuca curates the gallery’s distinctive collection of fine art (oils, watercolors, pastels), photography and pottery. He seeks -- and finds -- original crafts and unusual home décor created by local and regional artisans.
"Such is the bounty of talent in this area that I need more room," he said.
The new space will have three separate themes: one will feature children’s heirloom toys, quilts and handmade decorations.
"These artisanal toys and hand-sewn pinafores are like nothing else around today," said DeLuca. "They are one-of-a-kind treasures that’ll be passed down through the generations."
The second room will have a sporting, outdoor theme. The third will be a working studio, where rotating artists represented by DeLuca will have a place to display their art and show how they do it.
"A painter will just set up their easel here for, say, a week, giving prospective buyers the opportunity to observe the work in progress," he says. He believes this experience would augment the pleasure of acquisition.
The Old Guard
Arthur Jones’ "Cascading Stars" is a realistic painting of a worn, casually draped 48-star American flag -- an earlier work from his popular series of flag paintings.
"We’re so pleased to be able to offer one of Arthur Jones’ coveted paintings from the flag series. It’s rare for it to be on the market," DeLuca said. Another piece in the limited series commanded a $40,000 price tag several years back. (Jones likes to tell that he hadn’t wanted to sell it, so he put a "ridiculously high" price on it, and was amazed that it sold.)
When he was a lad, Jones started out selling his paintings of picturesque Vermont scenes for $5 apiece, and now he is living to see his work collected by third generations of patrons. His work appears in important private collections and the likes of the Rockefeller Museum.
Affiliated with the Southern Vermont Arts Center since its inception, Jones is a lifelong denizen of Dorset. He slowed down when his eyesight started to fail, but after he underwent cataract and hip surgery, he got fit and clear-eyed, and resumed painting large canvases with his former vim.
"A lady who goes to Florida for the winter just bought another of my winter scenes to put in her place in Boca," Jones said. He chuckles at the thought that she prefers his rendition of winter to the real thing.
The new recruits
Arlington oil painter Kathie Thompson will inaugurate the opening of the studio. Her early-morning landscapes are of loved, familiar places. She rises early and rejoices "when the sun is right, and the mist reveals all these gorgeous colors." She’ll paint from a photograph, but only ones she herself has taken.
"The places I paint I know intimately," she said.
Thompson looks forward to painting in the new studio space.
"The home environment has its own distractions, and can be a bit isolating."
As she acquaints herself with the room, she and her husband chat with DeLuca about their family history and Vermont ties; Patrick mentions that his grandfather had been a model in several of Norman Rockwell’s paintings.
"The stories that people bring are very much a part of this place," DeLuca said, and the variety of artists that he represents, as well as the people who drop in just to chat and share a cup of coffee, ensure that there will be stories aplenty.
DeLuca’s genial enthusiasm, along with his business derring-do, have attracted established artists and journeymen artisans alike. He’s drawn together a range of unique gifts and objects that might cost a few bucks, to fine art that could relieve your wallet of several "dead presidents." Yet somehow, DeLuca pulls it all together in an elegant, appealing manner, and Dorset’s innkeepers, neighbors, the playhouse, Manchester and Dorset Chambers of Commerce, visitors and friends welcome the infusion of liveliness in the village.
DeLuca won’t take all the credit.
"There’s something bigger than me driving this," he says.
If you go ..
What: 3 Pears Gallery
Where: 41 Church Street, Dorset, Vt.
Hours: Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday through Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit their Facebook page, facebook.com/3PearsGallery for more information.