Rural Missouri - April 2011 - (Page 34)

Valley of Many Deer wo miles west of Chilhowee on State Route 2 stands a large, bright-white artist palette with daubs of color and the words “Art Next Right.” Just past the palette, a purple and turquoise sign with a vivid yellow sun and silhouettes of leaping deer marks a gravel driveway. If you turn up that lane, you’ll find yourself heading toward a low tan building with brick-red shutters, window boxes and a small covered porch. From the outside, the building looks like other metal barns dotting Missouri’s landscape. But step inside and you’ll discover this barn is far from ordinary. You’ve just entered the Valley of Many Deer Gallery, a co-op of artists and writers. The gallery sits on 100 acres of land and houses about 1,000 square feet of original art in three large • rooms. Walking into Chilhowee the gallery, you get a feeling of entering a place at once familiar and comfortable, like a favorite friend’s house, yet a tingle of anticipation spirals through you at the thought of exploring all the nooks and crannies. Doors salvaged from old houses slated for demolition stand hinged together, creating a rustic backdrop for paintings and other artwork. Whimsical and functional art is displayed on empty wine barrels, benches and antique furniture. “When customers walk through the door, they’re always amazed at the amount of art we have,” says Jo Henning, artist and owner of the gallery. “They might not know it, but several of our members are award-winning artists and writers.” Woodcarvings, oil and watercolor paintings, antique doors with stained-glass panels, handwoven rugs and other fiber art, pressed flowers, pottery, hand-crocheted items, paper art, mosaics, jewelry and much more fill every room. Books by regional authors, some published by locally owned Cave Hollow Press and Sweetgum Press, intermingle with the art. The books include fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young adult. Albums by local musicians also can be found on the shelves. The gallery, served by West Central Electric Cooperative, gets it name from Chilhowee, a Cherokee word for “Valley of Many Deer.” In 1855, James Simpson was traveling through the area from Tennessee when his wagon broke down. He decided to stay and opened a store. Other families settled in the area and it grew into the town of Chilhowee, named after the town of the same name in Tennessee. “There are over 20 artists and writers represented in this art co-op,” Jo says. “It’s a mixture of fine art and fine crafts. Artists have to be juried into it.” Jo started the cooperative in 2006 with just a handful of volunteers while teaching art full time. Since she retired a year and a half ago, she has been able to devote more time to the gallery. But she’s quick to point out, “Every member pitches in and helps with things like advertising, art demonstrations, decorating, cleaning and performing music for live entertainment.” Why start a gallery in the middle of a rural community? “It’s so local artisans and writers have a place to showcase their work,” Jo says. “We are letting folks know that there is plenty of talent out away from the city.” Jo has plenty of talent herself. An award-winning artist, she was born with a passion to create, despite eating her crayons as a child. Though the crayons made her sick, they didn’t diminish her love for the creative process. She earned a master’s degree in art T by Teresa Hoy GALLERY photos by Jim McCarty Gallery owner and artist Jo Henning holds one of the many pieces of art on display at the Valley of Many Deer Gallery. This cooperative venture takes care of selling so its artists can concentrate on creating new works. Cooperative helps rural artists succeed cinnamon-apple aroma of hot cider and Christmas music welcome guests to linger and browse. This year, an extra outdoor event, The Mad Hatter Tea Party, is in the works for June, complete with tea served in handmade cups, finger foods and a bestdecorated hat contest. Artist demonstrations also are a regular feature at the gallery. Past demonstrators have designed stained glass, made and sculpted paper, shown the art of printmaking and created landscapes and intricate patterns on glass using dried flowers. The gallery even hosted a wine- and cheese-making demonstration last year with a taste testing afterward. “It is a place where people can come and relax and enjoy themselves because this gallery offers a unique setting surrounded by native grass, trees and fields,” Jo explains. “Besides looking at some wonderful art and listening to local musicians, folks can hike the perimeter of the native grass and watch hawks soar high above, listen to the call of the quail or hear the howl of a distant coyote.” Jo works tirelessly coming up with fun events and finding new artists, but it’s not just for her own gain that she hopes the gallery will succeed. Her heart lies with the local artists and writers who are trying to make a living or just fulfilling a lifelong dream of creating art. So, if you’re on the hunt for that one-of-a-kind piece of art, want to purchase something created by a Missouri artist or feel like taking a scenic drive to somewhere visually stimulating and entertaining, Valley of Many Deer Gallery is the place to visit. Valley of Many Deer Gallery is approximately 2 miles west of Chilhowee and 12 miles southeast of Holden on State Route 2. It is open the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Drop-ins are welcome. To learn more about the gallery and its members, visit or call Jo Henning at 660-678-0195. Hoy is a freelance writer from Chilhowee. Mike Kelly, one of the artists who is a member of the gallery, created this wood carving of an old barn. and has been creating ever since. Three of Jo’s oil paintings are on permanent display at the Lafayette County Courthouse in Lexington, and her historical painting depicting early life in Lafayette County was part of a traveling exhibit at the Missouri Capitol. She knows what it’s like to do the show circuit or drive miles to sell art in more populated areas. She wants to bring art closer to home. “I believe strongly in helping other artists grow and in promoting both visual and performing art in my community,” she says. Valley of Many Deer Gallery hosts at least two special events a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Spring events move beyond the gallery walls to the outdoors and nearby gazebo. Musicians from around the area entertain with guitars, harmonicas, dulcimers and recorders. November is always the Holiday Open House where twinkle lights intertwined in the rafters, the warmth and ambiance of electric fireplaces, the 34 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2011

Rural Missouri - April 2011
Memories of that Mountain Music
Growing pains
Mail Bag
International instruction
Best of Rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Prairie passage pit stop
Around Missouri
Valley of Many Deer Gallery

Rural Missouri - April 2011