Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild tour this Saturday

Artist Nancy Azara (photo by Francesco Capponi)

Artist Nancy Azara (photo by Francesco Capponi)

The nonprofit Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild is sponsoring a series of artist studio tours this spring and summer. The first event on Saturday, May 18 will bring visitors into the studio of painter Eva van Rijn from 1 to 3 p.m. and the studios of sculptor Nancy Azara and painter Darla Bjork from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $50, which include light refreshments at the studios, and proceeds benefit the programs and exhibitions of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, of which Azara is head of the exhibition committee and sits on the Board of Directors.

“It’s a very nice, congenial way to share your work and your studio with people,” says Azara. “At galleries, you don’t have an insight into how the work was made or how it interrelates to other work by the artist. You need to have that insight sometimes to understand the work, and studio tours are a way to do that.”

People are sometimes a bit intimidated by visiting an artist’s studio, Azara adds, but says that she, like other artists who do this, enjoys the opportunity to have a dialogue with visitors about what she does. “Everyone is welcome,” she says, “so if you’re curious, just come.”


The first stop on the tour will be the studio of Eva van Rijn, who was born in Den Hague, Holland in 1936 and emigrated to the US with her parents during World War II. Van Rijn’s family settled in Woodstock, and during a break from college she attended the Academia de Belle Arte in Florence, Italy, where her mother had been a student before her. She married painter/sculptor Edward Chavez and continued to live in Woodstock, where daughter Maia, now also an artist, was born.

Influenced by family vacations spent camping in the west, the landscape there became the inspiration for her artwork. In 2006, she collaborated with her daughter to create “Red Canyons/Blue Space,” an exhibition of paintings and drawings featuring work from their collective road trips. Now with her partner, fisherman Richard Strain, she travels to some of the world’s last unspoiled places where photography and quick plein air paintings provide the sources for landscape and wildlife paintings done in the studio. Eva van Rijn is also a director of the Woodstock School of Art. To see examples of her work, visit www.evavanrijn.com.

Nancy Azara’s studio, in a large barn behind her house (the same property holds another barn that houses Darla Bjork’s studio), will hold her carved-wood sculptures enlivened with paint, metal leaf and encaustic techniques, along with mixed-media wall hangings, rubbings and collages. Azara says that her work is about time in relation to memory and personal history. She has exhibited widely in New York City and throughout the country and abroad, and was a founder of the New York Feminist Art Institute in 1979. Azara is the author of Spirit Taking Form: Making a Spiritual Practice of Making Art (Red Wheel/Weiser) and she has been a visiting artist in the US, Europe and India, most recently at the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, Italy and at Chikraneketan in South India. To see examples of her work, visit www.nancyazara.com.

Painter Darla Bjork has exhibited in the US and Europe and is also a psychiatrist who has had a private practice in New York City for many years. Her work has evolved from abstract portraits that reflected people with whom she worked in mental institutions to abstract landscapes influenced by her childhood in rural Minnesota and the view of the Catskill Mountains from her studio in Woodstock. Her recent “Fire Series” are encaustic works that reflect on the transformative nature of fire through a thick layering of paint and wax. To see examples of her work, visit www.darlabjork.com.

Subsequent artist studio tours sponsored by the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild will include a July 20 event with visits to the studios of Matt Bua, Portia Munson and Jared Handelsman, followed by dinner at the private home and garden of the Handelsmans. “Art and Food Duo” on July 20 will take place from 3 to 9 p.m., which includes three studio visits and dinner for $125. On August 10, the final tour will feature the studios of Joan Snyder and Jenny Nelson from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild artist studio tour, Saturday, May 18, 1-5:30 p.m., $50; ulsterpub.staging.wpengineguild.org/studiotour.html.