103 Artisans Marketplace closing after a good run in Chester

CHESTER, Vt. – The crafts marketplace and metalwork studio, 103 Artisans Marketplace, on the state route of the same number in Chester is closing at the end of August after almost 11 years.

Gallery 103
103 Artisans Marketplace with some of Payne Junker’s metal sculpture displayed outside. Photo by Bill Lockwood.

Elise and Payne Junker built and opened the 2,000-square-foot building as a retail outlet for Payne’s metalwork and for the arts and crafts of 200 or more Vermont and New England artisans. Payne says, “It’s been a opportunity to show off all our work and display it just the way we want.”

Elise says it’s been, “a place where people came to hang out and talk, and I feel very honored.”

The Junkers have been collaborating as a couple, as artists, and in business for over 30 years. Elise says they met at a craft show, and they spent their honeymoon at a craft show. She says, “It’s been a really good collaboration through all these years.”

Elise was a professional dancer, but was also a folk artist and designer of clothing. She defines folk art as “people doing art without formal training.” She went from painting on sap buckets and cloth to metal.

Payne was studying Russian and became a blacksmith on the side. He provided some designs for her artwork, and they began presenting together in Vermont State craft centers, the League of New Hampshire Craftsman stores, and at art shows in the region.

Gallery 103
Payne Junker’s “Day on the Lake” behind the counter at 103 Artisans Marketplace. Photo by Bill Lockwood.

The crafts and artwork presented at 103 Artisans Marketplace have come from many of the artisans the Junkers met at craft shows over the years. They collaborated at the Rusty Moose in Grafton, Vt. for 13 years where Payne was the blacksmith giving demonstrations and training apprentices and Elise ran the retail store.

Payne has achieved some local fame as a metal sculptor. He designed the first One Percent for Art project in Vermont, which are the stairway railings at the courthouse in St. Albans. He also designed the weathervane above the Guilford Welcome Center on Interstate-91.

The Junkers are not retiring. They see the closing of 103 Artisans Marketplace as a change to a new “adventure” in their life. Junker Studio will continue with Payne doing custom metalwork, and they will participate in some craft shows.

Heather Chase of Chester is purchasing the building for her Corporate Lactation Services business. She may also rent out part of it. She says, “I’m going to take my time and see how the building speaks to me.”

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