Sometimes you have to leave home to discover surprises right in your own back yard. Such was the case with artist Angus McCullough, a Vermont-based artist I met this spring at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

The town of Bennington, Vermont, may be best known for its liberal arts college, towering stone obelisk, Blue Benn Diner, and decades-old croquet match at the Park-McCullough House, where locals, dressed all in white, gather to discuss town politics while fervently knocking wooden balls through wickets. But here beside Robert Frost’s grave and the dubious, painted moose sculptures, contemporary artists like writer Mary Ruefle, Willard Boepple, and McCullough are artfully dodging the New-England-cliché sand traps.