Norfolk Artists & Friends annual exhibit returns

Norfolk Artists & Friends founder Ruthann Olsson.

Jennifer Almquist

Norfolk Artists & Friends annual exhibit returns

For the past 17 years, a community of artists have shown a visual feast of their paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography, and decorative arts in an annual exhibition in Norfolk.

Following tradition, more than thirty members of Norfolk Artists & Friends (NAF), a membership organization of professional artists, will be showing their artwork this summer in a group exhibit at the Art Barn Gallery on the Battell Stoeckel Estate in Norfolk from Aug. 1 to 4. The show is sponsored by the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival – Yale School of Music, to which 15% of the sales is donated.

The NAF exhibit will run concurrently with the ninth annual Weekend in Norfolk, the town’s three-day summer festival from Aug. 2 to 4.

Ruthann Olsson, Norfolk-based interior designer and artist who founded NAF (inspired by her friend Patricia Miller) in October of 2007, expressed gratitude for the generosity of the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival for its sponsorship of NAF. “We are truly blessed to have the Art Barn Gallery to show our work. This year we have 33 artists showing, among them four new members. The show will cover the disciplines of sculpture, drawing and painting, printmaking, photography, and fine jewelry.” Cyd and John Emmons will professionally install the work.

The Art Barn Gallery on the Battell Stoeckel Estate in Norfolk, the site of the 17th Annual Norfolk Artists & Friends Art Exhibit. Jennifer Almquist

Norfolk has a long, illustrious history of attracting fine artists, and generous patrons of the arts that supported them. One such early patron, Robbins Battell (1810-1895) shared his collection of works by Hudson River painters, such as Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, and George Inness with the people of Norfolk. The paintings were hung in the music room and library of Whitehouse, a landmark historic building. In 1898, Norfolk luminaries Carl Stoeckel and Ellen Battell Stoeckel hosted the president of the National Academy of Design, Frederick Dielman, at their Norfolk home. In 1928, a family friend Louis Comfort Tiffany oversaw the installation of five Tiffany stained glass windows in the Battell Chapel in Norfolk, commissioned by Ellen Battell Stoeckel.

Norfolk contemporary artist Tom Hlas said recently, “I’ve exhibited with the Norfolk Artists & Friends ever since we moved to Norfolk in 2012. It’s a great group of artists that covers a wide range of mediums and styles. The annual art exhibit is always one of my art highlights of the year. Plus, it’s great to see and talk with collectors and buyers who attend the show every year. I definitely look forward to this year’s show. Each year the exhibit looks better and better!”

The stated mission of NAF is to “bring together a community of Norfolk-area artists to network, gain a reputation in the community and beyond, provide opportunities to market their work, and enhance conditions for making a sustainable income.”

Babs Perkins, a photographer who lives in Norfolk, will be showing her work in the August show. “I always look forward to participating in the Norfolk Artists & Friends show each year. Ruthann [Olsson] had a vision and here we are years later still going strong. Thanks to the range of artists and mediums, it’s always an interesting and diverse exhibition. A few years ago, we decided to have the show professionally hung, and wow, is it ever worth it. I think we (as artists) are fortunate to have such a fantastic opportunity right here in Norfolk. And getting to use the beautiful gallery space in The Eldridge Barn (aka The Art Barn) on The Battell Stoeckel Estate is a big plus. It’s also an incredible way for folks both in town and from the wider area to see the art being created here.”

NAF founder Olsson shared her view that “Artists are positive creators, adding strength and beauty to our universe. These creative bursts of the spirit offer an endless tribute to our humanity.”

Jim Jasper works as a graphic designer from his home in Norfolk. He is also a fine artist whose past work includes illustrations of each chapter of Melville’s Moby Dick. He enjoys his connection with NAF. “It is a great way to forge bonds with other artists, many of whom have been showing with the group for years. The show has become a summer ritual in the town.”

Artwork by Norfolk artist Tom Hlas.Provided

Norfolk Artists & Friends 17th Annual Art Exhibition

August 1 – 4, 2024

At the Art Barn Gallery on the Battell Stoeckel Estate.

Special sneak preview, Thursday, Aug. 1, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Gala Reception, Friday, Aug. 2, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Hours of exhibition: Saturday, Aug. 3, 12 p.m. – 5 pm Sunday, August 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Follow signs on the Stoeckel Estate to the Gallery from Routes 44 & 272 in Norfolk, Connecticut.

Latest News

Thru hikers linked by life on the Appalachian Trail

Riley Moriarty


Of thousands who attempt to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, only one in four make it.

The AT, completed in 1937, runs over roughly 2,200 miles, from Springer Mountain in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park of Maine.

Keep ReadingShow less
17th Annual New England Clambake: a community feast for a cause

The clambake returns to SWSA's Satre Hill July 27 to support the Jane Lloyd Fund.


The 17th Annual Traditional New England Clambake, sponsored by NBT Bank and benefiting the Jane Lloyd Fund, is set for Saturday, July 27, transforming the Salisbury Winter Sports Association’s Satre Hill into a cornucopia of mouthwatering food, live music, and community spirit.

The Jane Lloyd Fund, now in its 19th year, is administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and helps families battling cancer with day-to-day living expenses. Tanya Tedder, who serves on the fund’s small advisory board, was instrumental in the forming of the organization. After Jane Lloyd passed away in 2005 after an eight-year battle with cancer, the family asked Tedder to help start the foundation. “I was struggling myself with some loss,” said Tedder. “You know, you get in that spot, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Someone once said to me, ‘Grief is just love with no place to go.’ I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and thrilled to jump into a mission that was so meaningful for the community.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Getting to know our green neighbors

Cover of "The Light Eaters" by Zoe Schlanger.


This installment of The Ungardener was to be about soil health but I will save that topic as I am compelled to tell you about a book I finished exactly three minutes before writing this sentence. It is called “The Light Eaters.” Written by Zoe Schlanger, a journalist by background, the book relays both the cutting edge of plant science and the outdated norms that surround this science. I promise that, in reading this book, you will be fascinated by what scientists are discovering about plants which extends far beyond the notions of plant communication and commerce — the wood wide web — that soaked into our consciousnesses several years ago. You might even find, as I did, some evidence for the empathetic, heart-expanding sentiment one feels in nature.

A staff writer for the Atlantic who left her full-time job to write this book, Schlanger has travelled around the world to bring us stories from scientists and researchers that evidence sophisticated plant behavior. These findings suggest a kind of plant ‘agency’ and perhaps even a consciousness; controversial notions that some in the scientific community have not been willing or able to distill into the prevailing human-centric conceptions of intelligence.

Keep ReadingShow less