LONDONDERRY, Vt. – The Londonderry Arts and Historical Society is exhibiting “Legends of Londonderry” at the Custer Sharp House, 2461 Middletown Rd., Sept. 11 through Oct. 9. Hours are Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., or by appointment.
“Legends of Londonderry” will feature the posthumous work of local artists Bernadine Custer Sharp, Alfred “Jimmy” Sharp, and Harry Shokler from our LAHS collection.
Bernadine Custer met British-born Jimmy Sharp at an artist’s retreat in Michigan. After marrying, and around 1930, Custer and Sharp settled into their lifestyle of traveling between their New York City studio and their 19th-century farmhouse on Middletown Road in Londonderry – now the headquarters of the Londonderry Arts and Historical Society.
Both Sharp and Custer worked with the Southern Vermont Arts Center from its founding when an informal group of artists pooled their talents for its first public exhibition and sale. Custer supported the center even further, serving as a trustee and jury member for its exhibits. Custer was a teacher to many and recorded people of Londonderry in her paintings.
Harry Shokler lived with his wife Dahris B. Martin in South Londonderry and then along Route 11 from the 1930s until his death in 1978. The couple immersed themselves in local society, became active in village civic affairs, and increasingly sought ways to provide leadership in local and regional cultural activities. Shokler restored a dilapidated barn on his property, which eventually became the Shokler Art Studio. He used the building’s gallery to display his own works and works produced by students who came there to learn art. He also made it available as a local and regional art center, hosting meetings of art groups and displaying works by amateur and professional artists of the area.
“Legends of Londonderry” will also include a small tribute to Patty Wilder Wiley, the “Commandant of Londonderry,” during the years Custer, Sharp, and Shokler lived here. Patty spent her whole life in Londonderry and South Londonderry. Affectionately known the Old Witch of Main Street in honor of her extravagant haunted houses at Halloween, she was involved in everything from the Fire Department, to the church, to the Historical Society and a great deal more. Come and relate a story about her – everyone has one!