One day, Barbara Bravo welcomed a stranger into her ceramics studio on Old Route 32 in Saugerties. Like anyone expecting guests, Bravo had tidied the place up a bit. The visitor was disappointed.
“He wanted to see how the studio looked every day. He wanted to see the mess, crumbs lying on the floor,” Bravo recalled with a laugh.
Everyone, it seems, has an idea of what an artist’s studio should look like. But for anyone who wants to hold their projections up to the light of reality, to discover if an oil painter’s walls are as paint-spattered as his canvases, to see if the worker in wood’s floor is covered in shavings, there’s the 13th annual Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour: 40 places where expectation meets reality and both artist and artwork can come into new focus for the curious or the devotee.
It’s a self-guided tour: You chose your route and the number of studios that you wish to visit, with the help of a map. The map allows you access to the studios of 40 artists, ten of whom are new to this year’s tour.
As in the past, artists who work in every medium – be it photography or printmaking, wearable art or digital manipulation – are part of this year’s mix, Bravo said. Everything from the traditional to the borders of the cutting-edge will be on display – along, of course, with their creators.
This is where the artists’ tour differs from the usual, more typical museum experience: It offers art-lovers a chance to talk with the artists whose works will be on display, or whose work may still be on the drawing board or coming together on a canvas, maybe emerging from stone.
“It’s really all about education,” Bravo said. “It allows people to appreciate and understand art. You get to see what it’s like to be an artist. Since many will have works-in-progress, you get to see how a particular idea is taking shape, and you get to talk about it if you wish.”
Polly M. Law creates what she calls “paper dolls with deep personal issues.” She has participated in all but one of the tours – in part because she has been able to sell her works, but also because of the serendipitous nature of what can happen.
Law explained that she hails from the tiny hamlet of Poland, Ohio, “a place that’s great to be from.” Last year, a woman walked into her studio on a hunch that paid off. The woman was living in Hastings-on-Hudson at the time and thought that she recognized Law from a story in something that she’d read. Turned out that the woman was also an escapee from Poland: She’d graduated in Law’s older brother’s high school class.
The two refugees hit off immediately. “She bought my largest piece, and we’ve stayed in contact over Facebook since then. You’ve got to love it when that happens.”
Bravo said that the tour can be especially useful to young people who may be considering careers in the arts. “They can get a reality check, talk to artists who have been able to make a living at their art, as well as those who still work day jobs.”
All it takes for an artist to participate in the tour, she said, are talent, a fertile mind, enthusiasm and commitment to art. All it takes to be a guest on the tour is a willingness to explore new possibilities, test old assumptions and spend a pleasant time in the village or the countryside discovering what those fertile minds are up to these days.
The Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour takes place on August 15 and 16. You can preview examples of the art at www.saugertiesarttour.com, then pick up a map of the tour’s various sites. For a live preview, a group show will be held at Opus 40 on Friday, August 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. Opus 40 and some of the studios are handicapped-accessible.