The smell of cinnamon and oil paint greeted the people of Keene at this year’s annual Keene Art Tour. Artists across Keene opened their doors to the public.  They demonstrated their methods and displayed their works.

Tim Smith / Equinox Staff

Tim Smith / Equinox Staff

From landscape oil paintings to a style called nuno felting, artists within the community were able to share and promote their individual artistic passions on Nov. 8 and 9.

The Keene Art Tour Website stated the tour consisted of 30 artists at 18 locations. Some artists were returning from years past and some were new to the tour.

There were cars lined up at every location throughout the tour accompanied by typical New England weather both days.

The Keene Art Tour Website described the event as a, “Self-guided open studio art tour, featuring the fine artists and craftsmen of Keene.”

The tour covered a lot of the Keene community, starting on Main St. at the Creative Encounters store and ending at the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery on Keene State College’s campus.  The tour involved a few art galleries, including the Carroll House Gallery and Make it So: Monadnock Makerspace, as well as local businesses like Hannah Grimes Marketplace on Main St.

An artist on the tour, Alicia Drakiotes, used oils, pastels and printmaking.  An alumnus of KSC, she said graduated with a visual communications degree in 1987.  She specializes in oil painting — in a style called Vintage Americana.

She described the style as landscapes, architecture and historic pieces that may change over time.

She painted lighthouses, nature scenes and old vehicles to try and, “Capture the past and incorporate it into the present,” Drakiotes said.

She said she gets inspired by typical New England scenes.

“I’m inspired by the rural properties around us, or the old artifacts and buildings that are still preserved.  Rust and old rusty trucks, rusted cars that sometimes you find peppered into the landscape,” Drakiotes said.

She continued, “I gravitate towards the old architecture, the old bars and silos.  All that realist stuff that, as time goes on, keeps disappearing,” Drakiotes said.

Another artist, Anne Ward, sat painting a still-life with her finished paintings aligning the wall in front of her. Her paintings are of familiar sights and still-lifes. Her style is landscape oil painting and she said she particularly likes painting local scenes because, “It’s kind of fun to watch people interacting with it and recognizing local scenes, plus they’re easy to access being local,” she said.

She continued, “I try to paint things that I don’t mind looking at and I figure if I can engage with something visually, then maybe other people can as well.”

Tim Smith / Equinox Staff

Tim Smith / Equinox Staff

When she was 18, Ward said she decided that an art degree was not practical, so she decided to major in English at Western Maryland College but came to the same conclusion.

Eventually she said she landed on nursing as a career path when she attended the University of Hawaii.

Then later in life, she fell back on what she truly loved to do — painting. “It’s really what I wanted to do all along,” Ward said.

Another stop on the art tour was a house on Timberlane Drive, where numerous artists displayed their work, from jewelry to paintings. In the far corner of the house were brightly-colored fabrics, scarves and clothes on racks.

Artist Melinda LaBarge said she dabbles in a different artistic practice called nuno felting, which is a wet-felting technique that combines silks with merino wool.

LaBarge described the technique as involving wool and hand-dyed silks.

The process involves wetting the wool with soapy water and rolling the silk over top repeatedly. After the process is completed the silk gets a crinkle pattern and the barbs in the wool adhere it together.

The whole process takes about three hours —  that’s about three hours per clothing item she said.  The end product is durable and machine washable, according to LaBarge.

LaBarge said she is inspired by “Nature or art, or things people are wearing and I pay attention to what doesn’t work.  Some of it is feel and instinct,” said LaBarge.

The Keene Art Tour website’s slogan to advertise the event stated, “because supporting local art is a good thing.”


Hannah Sundell can be contacted at

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