Editor’s note: this is part two in a series about artists in Greene County
During a time of pandemic, with near-constant news briefings and reports and citizens arguing over the latest executive orders, changes to business functioning and the barrage of daily public health data, those blessed with artistic talent are finding refuge in the art of creation.
Local artist and treasurer for the Art Guild of Greene Vyvyan Rundgren says she uses her art as an escape from the daily reminders about the ongoing pandemic.
“I have been making face masks for UVA, guild members, church friends and my son’s fire station, so the pandemic seems to be on my mind every day,” Rundgren said. “I think (art) is more of an escape. Between the three things that I’m doing, my mind is pretty empty … sometimes I just do what’s in front of me. I get tired of painting on a barn quilt, so I can work on a gourd and then I can sit down with the sewing machine and just rotate through the three things.”
Rundgren, who has spearheaded the effort to create a Barn Quilt tour in Greene County and who has painted hundreds of barn quilt boards over the years, is taking a break from teaching classes until they find the safest way to hold group events moving forward. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t working on her own creations.
“Besides doing barn quilts, I am working on decorative gourds,” she said. “I do burning and carving … lots of crazy shapes, but also love doing birds, flowers, Celtic designs, apples, leaves, wheat, et cetera.”
Many types of gourds are grown for decorative purposes rather than for eating, according to Rundgren. Due to their hard outer shells, it’s possible to dry the gourd and decorate the outside without needing to empty it out or cook it like an Easter egg.
“Most of mine are whole, and you can shake them and you can hear the seeds and that’s okay,” Rundgren explained. “If you want to make a bowl, you have to cut it open and then clean out the inside.” She gets her gourds from friends’ farms or orders them online from various gourd farms.
Since the start of the pandemic and with the stay-at-home orders in Virginia, Rundgren has found more time to devote to her artwork.
“I have a lot more time to clean the gourds that have been sitting in the barn, and a lot of my time at home has been spent working in the yard, accomplishing things that I have wanted to do for several years,” she said. “Taking a break from the yard also lets me work on my gourds.”
Rundgren also takes time to get out in nature and uses her talents to remind others to stay safe in a unique way.
“As an Art Guild member, I have managed to remind folks to wear their masks by displaying the masked “chicken” in front of the Farm Bureau and a masked “cow” on South River Road,” she said, referring to the decorated haybale animals she created which have now been adorned with cloth face mask coverings as a friendly reminder to protect each other during the ongoing pandemic. “Maybe someone would like a pig or a goat or a duck on their farm.”
While sales have been down recently due to canceled art shows in the spring, Rundgren is hopeful that the fall shows will be able to run this year and hopes to continue creating until then.
For more information about the Art Guild or for up-to-date information about upcoming classes, visit artguildofgreene.org or facebook.com/ArtGuildOfGreene. For more information about barn quilts, visit exploregreene.com/explore/barn-quilt-trail or contact Vyvyan Rundgren at email@example.com.