Door County Art Scene: Fairfield Prepares to Open “The Big Read: A Tom Sawyer Experience”

The Fairfield Art Center’s first-floor Main Gallery will remain closed in December and early January as staff and volunteers prepare for the January opening of "The Big Read: A Tom Sawyer Experience," an exhibition held in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts’ "Big Read" program. The Big Read is returning to Door County for a second consecutive year, this time featuring Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

"The Big Read: A Tom Sawyer Experience" will be a highlight of Door County’s Big Read. It will open with a 6:30 pm reception in the Main Gallery on Thursday, Jan. 22, which will allow guests to enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres as they explore the show’s four distinct areas.

In the first section, guests will learn about the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, and experience Tom Sawyer’s story through a series of first-edition book illustrations from the historic Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut.

In the second section, a stunning mural created by Door County artist Patty Clark provides an immersive backdrop to Aunt Polly’s infamous white picket fence. Here, in the finest Tom Sawyer tradition, guests will have an opportunity to make a "trade.” The Fairfield asks that each guest leave behind some small item; a special display will accommodate the trades, creating an artistic expression of day-to-day life in our own 21st century community.

In the third area, a selection of memorabilia reveals Tom Sawyer’s impact on popular culture, and finally, in the fourth area of the exhibition, guests will have an opportunity to view the Children’s Art Exhibition. The Fairfield incorporated this popular annual show into "The Big Read: A Tom Sawyer Experience" by inviting local schools to contribute artwork that reflects the young artists’ own impressions of the novel’s themes and motifs.

Also in conjunction with NEA’s The Big Read, the Fairfield will host a special "Tom Sawyer Children’s Day" from 10 am – 2 pm on Saturday, Jan. 24.

Then, at 2 pm on Friday, Feb. 6 and Saturday, Feb. 7, the Fairfield will be hosting The Adventures of Tom Sawyer book-discussion groups in the Main Gallery.

"The Big Read: A Tom Sawyer Experience" will be on display through Saturday, March 14. At that time, the Main Gallery will close until April 15 for routine yearly maintenance; it will reopen at 6:30 pm on Thursday, April 16 with “C. T. Whitehouse: Sculpture in the Garden.”

Winter hours are 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday through Friday; and 10 am – 4 pm Saturday. The Fairfield is closed Sundays, Mondays and all major holidays. For more information call 920.746.0001, email [email protected] or visit