Artist studio tours have become key components in the cultural tourism economy of a number of Hudson Valley communities, including several in Dutchess County and Saugerties’ very successful, long-running annual tour. Last fall, painter/gallerists Ken Aspin and Donna Weil of the D. M. Weil Gallery at 208 Bruynswick Road decided that it was Gardiner’s turn to lure visitors out for a leisurely drive along its scenic roadways, stopping in here and there to watch local artists and work (and maybe even purchase something beautiful to take home).
Though it was somewhat hastily arranged, the inaugural Gardiner Open Studio Tour (GOST) over Columbus Day weekend managed to distract so many leaf-peepers from the foliage outside that its organizers decided to make it a semiannual event. “It was beyond our expectations,” said Aspin. “At our gallery alone, over 100 people came through during the weekend. We were thrilled with the response and the attendance.”
The other artists who opened their studios last autumn seemed equally pleased with the turnout: Of the nine original participants, eight are returning for the second iteration of GOST on the weekend of May 3 and 4, and another eight have signed up. The types of artwork on view have become more diverse this time around, according to Aspin: “A new photographer joined us this year” — Robert Goldwitz, joining Jonathan Pazer, who participated in the fall — “and a sculptor, Greg Glasson, who does large exterior sculptures. We’re excited about that.”
Clockmaker Leonie Lacouette also adds a new dimension to the weekend’s offerings. Craig and Pamela Booth’s whimsical ceramic automotive sculptures will be returning, with Annie O’Neill and Brenda Bufalino joining Lynn Isaacson in showing products of the potter’s art. On the roster of painters, Marsha Massih, Andrea McFarland and John Varriano will be back along with Aspin and Weil; Stacie Flint, Marilyn Perry and Jean Tansey are the new recruits.
“We decided to do it the weekend of May 3 and 4 because we didn’t want it to clash with Mothers’ Day, when people are taking their mothers out to restaurants,” Aspin explained. “Also, we were hoping for warmer weather! We’ll see if we get it.”
To make the outing more enticing, the Weil Gallery, which serves as tour headquarters, will make refreshments available during the entire duration of the event, as well as showing samples of the 16 participating artists’ works. “We’ll have baked goods, wine, sodas, soft drinks, cappuccino,” Aspin promised, noting that many of the artists’ studios will also offer snacks and drinks to those who stop by. Both the gallery and the studios will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The promoters have distributed 10,000 copies of the GOST brochure to restaurants, businesses and public spaces in Gardiner and surrounding towns, each containing a map of the self-guided tour. The map can also be downloaded at www.gostartists.org/studio-tour-map.html. The Gardiner Open Studio Tour is absolutely free, fun and family-friendly. For more information, pick up a brochure, call the Weil Gallery at (845) 255-3336 or visit www.gostartists.org.