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Chris and the Spaghetti Shed
They were driving down NH-16 on a sunny Saturday in September when they saw a cluster of balloons tied off to a small sign on the side of the road. The sign advertised “Art Studio This Way” and Terry felt compelled to stomp the brake and flick the directional on. When he found a gap in traffic he did the hand over hand over hand move to turn sharply up the hill.
The asphalt turned gravel driveway lead to a small beige carriage house with a sliding barn door and two sets of french doors that let in gobs of natural light. It looked like a little oasis in a shady, wooded area with a couple of parking spots cut into the hill. It didn’t look open, but they tried the handle anyway and confirmed it was locked. They made cupped hand binoculars against the glass so that they could see inside. The Jackson Art Studio was filled with incredible pieces from every medium imaginable. Trippy pieces of blown glass, paintings of all sizes, photos, hand whittled carvings. They turned to walk back to the car feeling rejected. Terry was reaching for the car door lever just as a man stuck his head out to call them back.
The man was Chris Muzerall. He had just joined the collective of artists whose work filled the two rooms.
We took a slow lap around the studio. The art gallery lap. Hands clasped behind lower backs, feet shuffling slowly across the floor, oooohing and ahhhhing at appropriate intervals. Chris hung back but monitored in a friendly way, ready to offer a morsel about which ever work they paused in front of.
“Those prints are by a local woman. You actually just missed her. Aren’t those colors fun?” (@hannasmanyhats on IG).
We scuffed our feet a few more steps.
“Those are photos set directly on sheets of metal. The effect is really stunning, right?” (I couldn’t find this artist on IG).
“Yessss. Wowwww.” They replied. A few more oooohs and ahhhs.
Terry searched his brain for a question to ask and came up with “What medium do you work in?” This felt like the best option from a list that included “So, what do you do?” or “What are you working on?” or “What’s your deal?”
“I work in oil paint,” Chris replied. “I make those big oil paintings like the one behind you of Mount Washington.”
Terry and Tina turn to follow his gesture and their jaws unhinge. It’s Mt. Washington in winter. The painting is layered and rich and complex. It’s gotta be 5 feet by 7 feet. A behemoth with a $3000 price tag on it. Terry wouldn’t have flinched if it had an additional zero.
Terry got the sense that Chris had been waiting for someone to wedge open a door for a chat. He asked another question that unlocked a chunk of Chris’s story.
“Are you a full time artist?”
As soon as it left Terry’s lips, he felt stupid. Like he had just told someone that their mom looks great for her age only to find out that the woman is his wife.
“No,” Chris answered, “I work in the kitchen at Joseph’s Spaghetti Shed.”
He’s also been a chef, a landscaper, and a ski instructor. And in his spare time he makes magic with oil paints and brushes.
A few things crossed Terry’s mind when he heard this. Mostly, he wondered if Chris felt jaded. Artists of this caliber should be living in fancy mountain houses and buying vintage cars without ever logging in to the BOA app to check their balance.
To think that there are human beings hidden in plain sight that can create art like this is hard to believe. The guy scraping the lasagna off your plate might have superpowers.
Terry and Tina left with a couple of $40 prints and some trippy looking glass cups. They got back in Terry’s truck wishing they had an extra mortgage payment lying around to take Chris’ painting home. They daydreamed on the drive back to the cabin about being able to make an artist’s day by buying something with a big number on it.
Chris’ work can be found at:
You can find the Jackson Art Studio on the web at:
The studio is on IG at: