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Art on the Trails: Reflecting on a Vibrant Day of Creativity and Community

Photo of visitors by Andrew Menkart

Last weekend, I hosted the "Art on the Trails" event in collaboration with the Middlebury Area Land Trust and the Middlebury Studio School, and I am still floating from the incredible energy that filled the air. Personally, it was a celebration of the artistic work I have done over the past year, and a very special way to show gratitude for this community and the Trail Around Middlebury (which I have now spent nearly a decade hiking & observing--yikes, where does the time go?!?). 

A Day of Connection and Inspiration

The trails were alive with artists, nature enthusiasts, and curious onlookers. The weather was perfect, with the sun casting a warm glow through the trees, making it an ideal backdrop for a day dedicated to art and nature. It was heartwarming to see families, friends, and solo adventurers alike, all coming together to celebrate creativity. Some people came both days, once on Saturday for the demonstration and to walk the trail with friends, and again on Sunday to walk it alone in a more contemplative and reflective way. I was able to speak with a wide range of visitors--some who were hiking the TAM simply because it was a beautiful day, and some who had arrived from near and far especially to visit our event. I even met one pair who were hiking the whole TAM in an attempt to earn their Hiking Award patches--to which I proudly proclaimed "I'm the artist who designed them!" 

The Workshop and Painting Station

As part of the event, on Saturday morning we offered a range of activities and demonstrations for all ages. Children had a blast learning about how to transform mud and rocks into paint, then creating their own masterpieces. Our demonstrations on natural pigment watercolors were equally engaging for older and more experienced participants, who learned about lake pigments and experimented with watercolors derived from the very earth beneath their feet.

Photo of Natural Pigments by Andrew Menkart

The Trail and Exhibition

One of the most captivating parts of the event was the half-mile trail adorned with 35 original abstract paintings. This unique outdoor gallery allowed visitors to experience the artwork in the very environment that inspired it. The dappled sunlight filtering through the forest canopy created a dynamic and ever-changing display, something that a traditional gallery setting could never replicate. Each painting was accompanied by an exhibition guide, providing insights and stories behind the works. It was a joy to see some guests walking the trail alone, lost in their own thoughts, while others formed small groups, with one person reading aloud from the guide, sparking lively discussions and shared moments of appreciation.

Community and Collaboration

What stood out the most was the sense of community and collaboration that permeated the event. It was a reminder of the power of art and nature to bring people together, to inspire and to foster a deeper connection with our surroundings. The support from the Middlebury Area Land Trust and the Middlebury Studio School was invaluable. The community that each organization fosters is something really unique and special to the Middlebury, Vermont area, and I was honored to partner with them.

Looking Ahead

As I pack up the last of my paintings and reflect on the weekend's success, I am filled with gratitude for everyone who participated and made this event possible. Your enthusiasm and support mean the world to me, and I am already looking forward to our next creative adventure together.

Thank you for being a part of this journey and for helping to make "Art on the Trails" such a memorable event. Stay tuned for more updates and future events, and keep creating, exploring, and connecting with the beauty around you.

Until next time, happy trails!


Artist, Growing In Process

P.S. Don't forget to check out my Instagram for photos and highlights from the event! I've posted a virtual tour to my Highlights, so you can walk the trail and see the exhibit (and you won't even need bug spray)!


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