POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Folk art lives in Pound Ridge.
A new art exhibit has opened at the Pound Ridge Library, and it’s a little different than the traditional paintings, sculptures and photographs you might normally find. This one is all about rugs – hooked rugs.
Mary Parker, a Somers resident, has brought her themed hooked rug exhibit to the library, where it will remain on display until Feb. 23.
Parker is considered one of the best hooked rug artists in the field.
“Mary Parker’s recent show of hooked rugs at the Somers Public Library reminds us how, in the hands of a gifted artist, the simplest materials and most prosaic themes can be transformed into an important artistic statement,” said William Ketchum, author of “Hooked Rugs” and a folk art expert. “She takes rug hooking to a new level with her vivid tableaus, which blend fantasy with craftsmanship.”
The exhibit at Pound Ridge Library evolved out of work Parker had been doing at a historic site in Somers known as the Tomahawk Chapel. She and a small group of volunteers had been working on preserving the chapel and its burial grounds since 2010 in an attempt to have it listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
“As I started learning more about the history of west Somers and the families buried at the chapel, I began to hook a series of primitive style of rugs based on a group of rugs hooked by an anonymous person in the late 1800s of places in Portsmouth, N.H.,” Parker said. “Her rugs seemed to celebrate and draw attention to these local historic spots in Portsmouth at that time. I felt that needed to be done in Somers, too.
“Since then, I have expanded my focus to other areas in both Westchester and Putnam counties,” she added.
Parker had a career as a dancer in New York City and then later in publishing with Conde Nast. But when she moved to Somers, she pursued an interest in traditional rug hooking and hasn’t looked back.
Her work has been seen in exhibits throughout New York, Connecticut and Vermont, and she’s appeared on the HGTV and DIY TV networks.
Parker also is a highly regarded basket weaver and is president of the Westchester Area Basketmakers’ Guild, which is currently holding an exhibit at the neighboring Pound Ridge Museum.
“We were supposed to have another exhibit [at the library] at this time, but the artist passed away and the slot was open,” said Library Director Marilyn Tinter, noting the synergy between the two exhibits. “Mary had been asking me if she could do an exhibit at the library and I thought that would work. Then she told me she was president of Basketmakers’ Guild and they were exhibiting at the museum. I thought it was ideal with the two exhibits next door to each other. I love connections like that – folk crafts in the hamlet.”
Tinter said those who aren’t familiar with hooked rugs, especially those considered to be folk art and not utilitarian in nature, will be surprised with the exhibit.
“I am not an expert in folk rugs, but they are beautiful,” she said. “Even those who have done hooked rugs have commented to me on how good they are.”
The exhibit, “Hooked Rugs by Mary Parker: An American Folk Art Goes Local,” is open to the public during regular library hours. The basket show and sale at the neighboring Pound Ridge Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays, 2 to 4 p.m., through Feb. 10.