Arts & Leisure

Artist Judith Giusto taps into something new

JUDITH GIUSTO HAS worked in fiber arts for 25 years, but these days she’s turning more to her interest in jewelry making. She will be one of the many artists featured at Town Hall Theater’s “A Toast to the Arts” fundraising event that’s been rescheduled for May 21 (though that’s subject to change).

MIDDLEBURY — For the second year in a row, Town Hall Theater is planning “A Toast to the Arts” — a fundraising party that celebrates 27 of Vermont’s visual artists and gives guests the opportunity to buy art and support the local theater. This year’s event was originally scheduled for Thursday, April 16, but due to the coronavirus has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 21, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 
While we’re all furiously washing our hands and trying to stay healthy, we can still get excited for this upcoming exhibit and sale that will showcase artists’ carefully curated works in paint, pastel, clay, wood, glass, fiber, photography and jewelry. The artists will generously donate half of the proceeds to THT’s performing arts and educational programs.
One of the artists participating for the first time this year is jeweler Judith Giusto. It is her first time working with Town Hall Theater and she is excited.
“There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do this,” she said in an interview last month. “I am pretty involved in the marketing of my own products and I think this is a very good place for me to be seen.”
Giusto’s jewelry was recently juried into the Edgewater Galleries in Middlebury, too. 
“There are several aspects of Judith’s work that drew me to her jewelry designs,” said Theresa Harris, director of the Edgewater Galleries. “The pieces are an interesting combination of bold, simple shapes refined by her use of detail that is added through texture in the metal, and the addition of small gem stones… I also like that Judith is local, and that the work reflects her background as a textile artist.”
Giusto will only be exhibiting her brass and silver jewelry at the fundraising event — a relatively new medium for her. 
“I’ve spent 25 years working in fiber,” Giusto said, referring to her business Round Barn Merinos on Route 7 in North Ferrisburgh. “I’ve owned a merino sheep farm and been working with yarn and knitwear since I moved here from New York City in 1993.”
Most of us will remember Giusto’s farm as the home to Oliver the two-humped camel who passed away in late February. Giusto combined Oliver’s down and hair with the merino wool of her sheep to give the yarn more memory (that means it holds its shape better). 
“All this was a prelude to how I came to jewelry making,” she explained. “I was a single mom to a son I adopted from Peru, and I realized one day he was going to grow up and leave… I thought, ‘What am I going to do when I’m 85, run around the farm chasing rams?’ That didn’t sound like a good maneuver.”
So about seven years ago, Giusto took a silversmithing class and learned enough to saw, solder and fabricate a piece of silver into something. The rest she self-taught.
For a while, Giusto did both fiber and jewelry work concomitantly. 
“I have a great deal of experience with how fiber moves, and I began to believe I could do that with metal,” she said. 
Indeed, she could. 
“Once you learn what you can do with metal, all of a sudden you realize you can make metal move,” Giusto continued. “I think what happened for me was that the fiber was not solid enough. It was too fluid. I wanted something that was going to hold its shape yet still have patterns and designs that I had in my head… Since I’ve become reasonably facile in both mediums, I find myself moving back and forth depending on what I want from the piece.”
Giusto first got into art “100,000 years ago” when she was a student at the High School of Art and Design in New York City. There she majored in photography. 
“I took commonplace, everyday objects and abstracted them so all that remained were visually pleasing, unrecognizable design elements, most often with only two colors — black and white,” she states in her artist biography. “Photography morphed into printmaking during my college years at SUNY New Paltz. Once again design was in the driver’s seat with black and white being the stark colors that I used to expressed all I wanted to say.”
Color drifted into Giusto’s work during her “middle years” and by the time she came to Vermont color was a “very significant element” in her world. 
“Now, my recent explorations into metal working put color and design on a more equal footing,” she writes. “Most of the jewelry pieces I create rely heavily on etched patterning very similar to my early photography and printmaking patterns. I work primarily in brass and silver, allowing for a ‘metal palette’ of two colors — the yellow of the brass and white of the silver. Many of the pieces I make are embellished with coloring agents, enamel and most often, colored, semi-precious stones.”
Giusto sees her artistic journey through several mediums as what makes her the artist she has become today. 
Joining Giusto at “A Toast to the Arts” will be Judy Albright, Noel Bailey, Bonnie Baird, Bruce Baker, Althea Bilodeau, Ann Cady, Alyson Chase, Robert Compton, Cotey Gallagher, Jack Goodman, Wright Hartman, Christine Homer, Will Kautz, Rebecca Kinkead, Kathleen Kolb, Max Krauss, Cristine Kossow, Nancy Malcolm, Cherie Marshall, Judy Reilly, Hannah Sessions, Elinor Steele, Rose Umerlik, Karla Van Vliet, Jen Violette and York Hill Pottery.
This year’s raffle prize is a stunning contemporary bowl, “Force Field,” by New Haven woodturning artist Michael Mode (valued at $2,350). His work has been purchased for numerous museum collections, including the Renwick Gallery of American Craft of the Smithsonian.
The party will also feature hors d’oeuvres from Grapevine Grille, libations and live music. Mingle with the artists to discuss their works and the creative process. An open preview of the artists’ exhibited works is planned in advance of the event. 
Tickets to A Toast to the Arts cost $25 each; raffle tickets are $5 each or $20 for five tickets. Purchase online, call (802) 382-9222, or stop by the THT box office in person.
Editor’s Note: For up to date information on this event check with the Town Hall Theater. The Addison Independent will have updates in May, too.

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