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HeARTs of Rutland auctioned Friday

The four-foot art installations will no longer decorate the landscape, but the 30 Rutland-based heARTs will live on in the admiration of new owners while benefiting local folks in need.

RUTLAND-Large acrylic hearts have decorated the Rutland landscape for nearly five months, locals and visitors alike admiring their designs.

Each heart has been designed and decorated by a local artist or a team of local artists and is also sponsored by a business. In all, 30 hearts were unveiled earlier this summer and have since been on display as part of a public art installation across the city.
This Friday, Nov. 2, those who have become particularly attached will have their chance to purchase their favorite heart at an auction at the Paramount Theater. The viewing begins at 5:30 p.m.

The project began when Mary Crowley and Karen Seward were thinking of a way to show how much heart the Rutland area has. From record-breaking blood drives to fundraising, Rutland delivers admirably, especially for its size.

When Crowley and Seward witnessed the outpouring of support in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene they knew that the time was right for the heARTs of Rutland community art display. The director of the HBRASV, Sherrie Birkheimer said "this project is all about community and how our community shows heart in so many ways. Our community came together to support this project in ways we never could have hoped for. The artists really stepped up and spent so many hours of hard work."

One of those artists is Carolyn Shattuck, a Rutland resident who works in two-dimensional collage and books. She says "When I heard about the project, I don't think there was a doubt in my mind that I would do one. I feel a strong sense of community here in Rutland. I've been here since 1978 and I like the idea of being a part of something larger something for the community." Shattuck was a perfect fit for the project not simply because her work translated beautifully onto the four-foot tall acrylic heart. She explained, "I am influenced a lot by 'outsider art'. It is not refined through lots of education, it comes from the heart."

Shattuck's piece is titled "The Quilted Hearts of Gee's Bend," a nod to the famous quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama and their iconic status as 'outsider artists.' For nearly 100 years quilts have been produced in Gee's Bend and the recent exposure and success is a story of community and strength. Shattuck has had some recognition using the patterns from the quilters to create wholly original artwork. Some of those works are on display at Dartmouth College, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Iowa.

2--Photo -courtesy -of -Carolyn -Shattuck .-
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Shattuck
"The Quilted Hearts of Gee's Bend" Sponsor: Downtown Rutland Partnership

With so many different styles of art represented there is something for everyone. "There are many people who are looking for different things in art," says Director Sherrie Birkheimer. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all."

In addition to auctioning off the hearts in a live format, there will also be a silent auction called Art for heARTs where other local arts and crafts are available. The Stafford Jazz and Contemporary Music Program will provide music for the event while students from the culinary program at Stafford Technical School will provide the hors d'oeuvres. The money raised goes to victims of disaster relief fund and to fund children's art education.

Friday's event is expected to be another memorable outpouring of encouragement with crowds coming out to support the heARTs of the Rutland community.