Maggie Neale's Ornamental Art Goes to Washington | Visual Art | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Maggie Neale's Ornamental Art Goes to Washington 

State of the Arts

Published December 10, 2008 at 6:15 a.m.


It’s not every Vermonter who gets a personal call from Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office. And fewer still are asked to represent the state at the White House — by creating an ornament to hang on its official Christmas tree, an 18-foot fir in the Blue Room. Montpelier artist Maggie Neale, 59, said yes to the challenge, which was to paint or otherwise decorate a plain silver provided ornament in a way that suggested Vermont. “When I got it, in August, I had just broken my arm,” Neale recounts. “So I put it aside and forgot about it. They called in October and said, ‘Where is your ornament?’

“I didn’t want Vermont not to be represented,” Neale continues. So she got to it, opting for collaged text — cut from newspapers and magazines — and layers of tissue paper partially obscuring the words. Obliged to use a patriotic color scheme (this year’s theme is “A Red, White and Blue Christmas”), Neale included red voting-booth curtains on the 6-inch-diameter orb; letters spelling “Vermont” also form an image of the Green Mountains. Normally, she notes, her work employs earthier hues.

The ornaments — 369 of them, solicited from artists in all 50 states — decorate the towering tree, which Laura Bush unveiled to media last Wednesday. Though Neale received an invitation to the event, she opted to stay home and tend to Artisans Hand Craft Gallery in Montpelier, where she works. “For $1000 I could have made the trip,” Neale says, “but these are tough times.” Her work on the ornament was gratis.

Want to see more?

Click here to view all the “Red, White and Blue Christmas” ornaments can be viewed individually.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston is a cofounder and the Art Editor of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.


Comments are closed.

From 2014-2020, Seven Days allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we've appreciated the suggestions and insights, right now Seven Days is prioritizing our core mission — producing high-quality, responsible local journalism — over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2023 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation