Sherry Senior: Finding a space for art

Courtesy photo
Sherry Senior wants her new studio and gallery to bring art to people.

For almost two decades, Sherry Senior had a career as a decorative painter but recently, she decided to branch out.

Senior was looking for new studio space when the building that once housed Jane McKnight’s Shelburne law office became available. She jumped at the opportunity and opened Roadhouse Studios in October. Its name comes from a restaurant once located in the building in the 1950s or 60s when what is now Webster Road was actually part of Route 7.

Roadhouse Studios is designed as a place for artists to work individually and collectively, as well as a display space and teaching studio. It currently houses five artists: Senior, acrylic and watercolor painter Kim Senior, quilter Hope Johnson who works under the name Vermont Quilt Bee, mixed media artist Johanne Durocher Yordan, and abstract acrylic artist Bob Arns who paints under the name Mutin.

The artists have individual spaces and share a common kitchen and cleaning area as well as room for classes. Current options run towards the fine arts with offerings in drawing, watercolors, and acrylics, but Senior would like to add more crafting and do-it-yourself classes. Roadhouse Studios also offers paint-and-sip evenings on Fridays, coffee-and-craft morning classes, and a number of pop-up exhibits for resident artists and others.

Senior has made her living as a decorative painter – also known as a “faux finisher” – by painting walls, cupboards and murals using techniques including stenciling and Venetian plaster and creating various textures.

Her work ranges from faux-plaster restaurant interiors to nursery room murals and sports-themed man caves. In the past, her job has taken her to New York, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, but lately she has stayed closer to home. Senior has always enjoyed crafting and one of her interests is repurposing objects including making furniture out of old cable spools. Her new venture is an outgrowth of those interests. “It joins my passion for art and crafting and bringing people in the community together,” she said.

Senior grew up in Canada with parents who were both fiber artists, and in college she studied fashion design and merchandising. She had dual citizenship and when she found herself ill-suited for the fashion industry she moved to the United States, settling in Shelburne where her brothers already had a business.

When Roadhouse Studios opened in October, roughly 100 people attended the event but Senior admits to being nervous about her new venture. “It’s a bit like jumping off a cliff with a blindfold,” she said. “It’s definitely a leap of faith.”

Senior recognizes that Vermont has a number of studios, galleries and teaching spaces but she believes that by adding crafting and DIY options, she can differentiate her endeavor from the rest.

She would like to add classes on dyeing material, mixed-media printing, calligraphy and other disciplines which are not as well represented in classrooms. She’s eyeing after-school classes and summer camps for kids, inspired in part by the interest her sons Dylan and Justin have shown in the arts. “I’m passionate about bringing art to people,” she said. “I’m really delving deep to try to find things that people are interested in.”

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