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Scarecrows to be auctioned at this year’s Harvest Fest, Feast and Fundraiser for VFFC

By Jimmy Britt

RUTLAND — The Vermont Farmers Food Center will be hosting their second annual Harvest Fest, Feast and Fundraiser Sunday, Aug. 14. Besides local food, drinks, d’oeuvres and music the VFFC will be doing something unique: They will be auctioning “scarecrows.” Each will be created by local artists including Mary Crowley, Norma Montagne, Christine Holzschuh, Karen Seward, Christine Townsend, Ann McFarren, Bekah Fenn, David Moakley and Alice Sciori.

The artists chose to help not only for their love of art but also for their love of the farmers market, many shared.

The scarecrows will be on display around the Rutland area in the weeks leading up to the event.

This week we will profile Moakley, Montage, Holzschuh and Crowley and their creation. Next week we will feature the remaining artists.

David Moakley: “The Iron Farmer”

When VFFC first contacted artists, they reached out to members of East Mountain Mentor Artists (EMMA.) David Moakley first heard about the project from his wife Betsy. Though Moakley creates assemblage sculptures as more of a hobby, he willingly accepted the opportunity to create and donate a piece to help the community.

“I really believe in what the farmers market does. That’s why I did,” he said. “I don’t really sell them (sculptures) so they start to pile up. But I like to donate them to a good cause,” Moakley added.

Moakley started to create a steel scarecrow, but he soon fused marble after learning how to at the Carving Studio in West Rutland. His steel and marble creation titled “The Iron Farmer” was inspired by both the “Tin Man” and “Scarecrow” from “The Wizard Of OZ,” he said.

“The Iron Farmer” weighs roughly 60-70 pounds and requires a wheel to be moved around.

Norma Montagne: “Shoo”

Moakley’s isn’t the only creation that is of an alternative design.

“The farmers market asked for scarecrows and they also said to think outside the box,” Norma Montagne said. “So all of a sudden my mind went to a crow flying and being scared away from the vegetable fields,” she continued.

Montage decided to create a mobile that would move on its own. As she assembled “Shoo,” Montage need to make sure that each piece would work properly. The sculpture took her four to five weeks to create and is partially made of recycled material, she said. Each piece was created then was connected all together.

Drilling the holes and framing presented challenges, she shared, as “Shoo” had to hang just right.

“That was hard because you picked a spot that you thought was going to be the balancing point. You drill the hole and you put the wire on it and it doesn’t balance that way at all. So you gotta make another hole,” Montage explained.

Montage said she was inspired by “Shoo” and would like to do more pieces that are of similar design.

Christine Holzschuh: “Skier”

While all the “scarecrows” are unique, some artists found inspiration from “normal” life.

“The way that I general come up with ideas is somebody will give me a trigger and the first thing that pops into my head is what I generally go with,” Holzschuh said. “I like to spend as much time as possible figuring out how to accomplish the task as apposed to trying to come up with the most brilliant idea that I can,” she explained describing her creative process.

To her, a scarecrow represents a figure — one not just intended for scaring off the crows. She decided to create a figure that would represent something more traditional to the area, and built a skier.

Holzschuh isn’t a sculpture, she typically works on oil paintings, but was excited to take on the challenge of building a “scarecrow.”

Holzschuh made a wooden frame, first, with enough flexibility to dress it. She then went on to clothe and pad the skier, but she also added insolating foam spray to give the piece rigidity while still remaining lightweight. The head is ceramic and, if you look closely, you can see that she painted a crow on the back of the jacket.

Mary Crowley: “Up Town Girl”

Mary Crowley’s inspiration of her piece “Up Town Girl” came from a few pieces of clothing that she bought. It started with a white hat with a black band she had bought in London for the Chaffee Kentucky Derby party two years ago.

Crowley then remembered she had a black and red jacket with flowers, sequence and fringe on it, which she once wore to the musical “Jesus Christ Super Star.”

From there she added red boas with a black top and pants.

“Then I had to get to work on thinking how this would take form,” Crowley said. “I laid down on a piece of paper and traced around myself,” she said. “Greg Cox cut out a form of a woman with a hand on her hip and the other hand is waving.”

Crowley realized that this wasn’t a one-person job so her husband, Art, became her co-artist. It was Art who came up the name “Up Town Girl.”

“It was like any art project that one has never been involved in before. It was figuring out as we went along what came next,” Crowley said. The staple gun and Gorilla Glue were also a big help she said, chuckling.

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