On April 8th from 10 am to 4 pm, 34 local artisans and artists showcased their historic and modern artistic skills and passions on the grounds of Chatham Manor for the community. In addition to highlighting some of the historic roots of art and artisans at Chatham such as carpenters and woodworkers, spinners, and blacksmiths, the event featured modern uses of various art forms. The event was sponsored, in part, by a Stafford County Challenge Grant and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
While some local artists demonstrated painting and sketching throughout the day, visitors created a few “masterpieces” of their own. Students and adults had numerous opportunities to create their own art by decorating the program bag, making an article from recycled materials, and creating a drawing of some aspect of the Chatham Manor or its grounds.
The April 8th program also included an exhibit of one of the few textiles known to have an association with 18th-century Chatham. The sampler of Patsy Fitzhugh, a young daughter of Chatham’s original owners, was on display at the house for the first time, on loan from the Arlington House. Patsy started the sampler at Chatham not long before her death at age 7. It is believed that a family member, possibly her sister Mary, completed the work.
As part of the Artisans, Art, and History Day, Friends of Chatham sponsored a juried art contest for K-12 students in Stafford County Public Schools. Art entries were to be based on past events or people or modern day at Chatham Manor. Both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art was accepted. Friends of Chatham was delighted to receive approximately 350 entries from the elementary, middle, and high schools in Stafford County. Some examples of the 3-dimensional art were colorful ceramic tiles, a Lego rendition of Chatham Manor, a splendidly carved wax angel, and a felted manor house and gardens. The 2-dimensional art included various depictions of the house and its gardens as well as interpretations of several historical people and events. There were even a few representations of the noted Faberge eggs. Friends of Chatham awarded over 50 monetary prizes. While both 2-D and 3-D contest winners were displayed on April 8th at Chatham, only the 2-dimensional works are exhibited now in the two Central Rappahannock Regional Libraries in Stafford County.
We would like to thank all the many volunteers who went above and beyond to make the Artisans, Art, and History event an outstanding day at Chatham Manor. It was truly a big event with many moving parts. The assistance of all the volunteers indeed contributed greatly to our success. Many thanks to everyone. The National Park Service recorded more than 1,000 visitors to Chatham that day!