Vermont Artist Uses ‘Town Smiler' to Spread Joy

Chalk pastel drawings by Adrian Tans have become popular attractions in Woodstock

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Vermont artist is volunteering his talents to spread smiles with a project that puts creativity on view in a public place.

“This is just for fun,” Adrian Tans of Woodstock told a passerby as he put the finishing touches on a colorful drawing sitting just off a sidewalk in the heart of the village.

Tans works on a surface that used to be known as the Town Crier, a message board that listed events around Woodstock.

With so much of that info now online anyway, Tans has transformed the space into “The Town Smiler.”

“I think people are often surprised that I don’t work for the town—that I just come out to volunteer my time to draw,” Tans said Monday.

A new roadside attraction in Vermont's rural Rutland County is getting drivers to slow down and smile.

The fine artist and children’s book illustrator carves out time every week or two to create a new, temporary drawing using chalk pastels.

“Some people like to go fishing,” Tans observed. “Some people like to work on their car. I just like to be outside and draw and chat — works out great.”

The attention-grabbing project started last year as a simple way to connect with and uplift people during the pandemic, the artist explained.

Tans said his aim is to give folks a moment to pause on their walks or trips running errands and, as the name indicates, smile.

Adrian’s creations, which usually reflect the season, have been a hit with the downtown business community and tourists.

“I hope it stays forever,” business owner Jayne Webb said of the rotating display of artwork. “I like the Smiler instead of the Crier.”

“It’s very special,” added traveler Brenda Chapple, who was visiting Woodstock Monday with her husband, Phil. 

An effort to intentionally sink an old ferry and turn it into a reef is getting some pushback.

Resident Shoshana Belisle said she has enjoyed watching new creations take shape on the Town Smiler.

“It’s this transient moment of beauty that shows that someone made an effort just to do something special for no purpose — except just for a little bit of joy,” Belisle said.

Each of the works will get wiped away and replaced, so locals have said they are motivated to check them out while they still can.

“It’s really rewarding on my end,” Tans said, promising that as long as the ideas keep coming, he’ll keep drawing — determined to use the old message board to promote happiness in his community.

“I have no plans of stopping any time soon,” the artist told NECN and NBC 10 Boston.

Contact Us