Shandaken Art Studio Tour this weekend

Harper Blanchet’s Twilight Studios

The annual Shandaken Art Studio Tour will take place this year this Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a self-guided tour, with maps directing visitors to outdoor sculpture spaces and the studios of more than 40 artists. On Saturday evening, July 21, tourgoers can meet up and chat with the artists at receptions held in Phoenicia from 6 to 9 p.m. at both the Arts Upstairs at 60 Main Street and Cabane Studios at 38 Main Street.

This will be the fifth year for the tour, with artists Dave Channon and Judith Singer once again organizing the event. “I can’t say that there is any thread of style or subject matter that connects the artists in this area,” says Channon, “but one thing that is wonderful here is a mutually supportive kind of camaraderie that the artists share.”

In an area once known for being a tourist destination for people from the City, there are now many artists who have left behind the intensity of urban life to live and work in the Catskills. “Nature stimulates people and revitalizes them,” says Channon. “Places that were known for hiking or hunting or tubing have become a paradise for the artists, and that’s been happening for a long time.” People who have moved up have become integrated into the fabric of the social and business community in the area, he adds. “We’re kind of overcoming this 100-year-old ‘water reservoir feud,’ and we’re going into a new era that’s quite wonderful.”

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Channon says that people often say there’s a need to “rebrand” the Catskills to make the area more enticing to visitors, but he feels that that has already been happening “organically” over the last 15 to 20 years. “Look at places like the [Phoenicia International] Festival of the Voice and Mount Tremper Arts: These are really top-notch art organizations.” Channon adds that the Arts Upstairs gallery in Phoenicia operates as the equivalent of an arts community center in the area, in its welcoming and inclusive attitude toward local artists, offering them what he calls “a kind of loving, encouraging spirit.”

Maps for the studio tour this weekend are available on the website, www.shandakenart.com. Also on the site is an “A-to-Z” list of participating artists, revealing the wide variety of media and range of styles that the tourgoer will see. Some of the artists got flooded out by the storms last year, says Channon, with damage to their studios ranging from mild to severe; but things are returning to normal now, and those artists are reclaiming their working spaces.

The website includes information about the sculpture spaces on the tour; the 49A Sculpture Park in Highmount, the Dog Sculpture Park (which is just what it sounds like) and the Poets’ Sculpture Garden in Phoenicia. “The tour is just two days,” points out Channon, “but the website is up year-round, and it does give you contact information. We encourage people to stay in touch, and if you meet an artist that you connect with on the tour, go back and visit again – a lot of the artists would be very welcoming to that.”

The annual Shandaken Art Studio Tour will take place on Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a self-guided tour, with maps directing visitors to outdoor sculpture spaces and the studios of over 40 artists who will participate in the event. On Saturday evening, July 21, receptions will be held in Phoenicia from 6 to 9 p.m. at both the Arts Upstairs at 60 Main Street and Cabane Studios at 38 Main Street. The event is free. For more information, visit www.shandakenart.com, call Dave Channon at (845) 688-2977 or e-mail dave@esopuscreek.com.

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