Ten new artists have joined the Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour this year, and a few who haven’t been on the tour for a while have returned for the 14th annual event on Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. With a total of 44 artists participating, this is the largest tour yet, according to tour coordinator Barbara Bravo, who is also one of the artists welcoming visitors into their studios over the weekend. “The dynamics get more interesting as you get more and more people involved,” she says. “You’re bringing in different kinds of personalities. And as interesting as the artwork can be, the person behind it is even more interesting and has a deeper story.”
The event is free of charge and it’s self-guided; one has only to pick up a map (or print one out online) and chart a course. No registration is required. Visitors to the studios have the opportunity to see works-in-progress as well as completed works, and some of the artists offer a hands-on experience. Going “face-to-face” with the artists allows the visitor to ask questions, Bravo says, which offers “a lot more insight than you get when you’re just viewing the work.” Tourgoers get to see where artists work and how they live, and most of the studios will offer works for sale during the tour, often at very affordable prices.
With so many studios available to choose from, how does one make the decision where to start? One option is to attend the free opening reception held the evening before the tour weekend, on Friday, August 12 at the Gallery at Opus 40 from 5 to 7 p.m. Most of the artists participating in the tour will attend the reception, and each will have one work on display as a preview of what they do. The regular admission fee to Opus 40 is waived for the evening.
There are also images of the artwork to be seen on the tour website at www.saugertiesarttour.com, along with bios of the artists to help with narrowing down which studios to visit. “We’ve found that most people can comfortably visit five studios per day,” Bravo says. “That’s an average; some people speed through the day and hit as many as they can, but those are the people who tend not to linger and talk to the artist for very long. Others say that two or three studios is their limit.”
Maps are available at the Info Booth on Route 212 across from the northbound New York State Thruway entrance in Saugerties and at Smith Hardware and at 227 Main Street in the village.
The participating artists on this year’s tour are Isaac Abrams, Noelle Auriemma, Tara Bach, Anita Barbour, Ana Bergen, Kelli Bickman, Barbara Bravo, Sharon Broit, David Brown, Jean Campbell, Michael Ciccone, Shelley Davis, Tamara DiMattio, Ruth Edwy, Steve Frederick, Robert George, Josepha Gutelius, Mikhail Horowitz, Jennifer Jewett, Brian Josselyn, Marsha Kaufman-Rubinstein, Kay Kenny, Barbara Tepper Levy, Yvette Lewis, Ulf Loven, Iain Machell, Ann Morris, Grey Morris, Hugh Morris, Michael Nelson, Gus Pedersen, Herb Perr, Bill Reinhart, Joan Reinmuth, Tad Richards, Prue See, Sarkis Simonian, Michael Sullivan Smith, Viorica Stan, Raymond J. Steiner, Marck Webster, Saundie Wilson, Jennifer Zackin and Carol Zaloom.
This year’s tour includes two artists who do land art, offering a broader spectrum to the range of techniques and styles to be experienced. Jennifer Zackin is creating imagery revealed through plant growth on an empty lot in the Village of Saugerties, Bravo explains, and Michael Sullivan Smith has paid his own homage to Opus 40 with a bluestone installation that he has had in progress on his land for the past 12 years. Zackin’s work over the years has focused on public art and sculptural installations, drawing on photography, video, collage and drawing, along with performance and aspects of ceremony to create works that engage the community. Sullivan Smith is better-known to Saugerties as a local historian, but has a background in the arts embracing calligraphy, graphic design and fine art along the way, with site-specific works and land art now on his radar.
Other artists new to the tour this year include Herb Perr, who had a long career as an Expressionist painter and performance artist and is now doing videos, capturing portions of the video to make prints, Bravo explains. “His sense of color is so incredibly bright and vivid. When I look at it, it just makes me feel good.”
Sharon Broit is a painter with a clothing business who creates the fabrics with which she works, and David Brown is a sculptor who works in steel, creating light and airy suspended sculptural works that defy the weight of their material. Bill Reinhart is a Saugerties native who along the way taught pottery in Woodstock, danced with the Ulster Ballet Company, for which he designed and built props and scenery, and operated a furniture restoration business in Saugerties. His current focus is painting.
Iain Machell was a participant in one of the original Saugerties Artist Studio Tours, and after a long hiatus is back. An Art Department head at SUNY-New Paltz, Machell mines his British artistic roots in creating large-scale drawings that address the struggle between the human condition and the natural world.
And while it’s always interesting to visit an artist’s studio that one hasn’t seen before, a return visit is warranted to artists familiar from past tours because “We’re all always working on something new,” Bravo says. Her own work has moved in recent years from primarily production ceramics to a focus exclusively on fine art. Her current work is white-on-white, aimed at producing shadow and color through texture alone. “I’ve been pushing into some areas that I hadn’t explored yet,” she says, “and just seeing what happens.”
Saugerties Artists Studio Tour, Saturday/Sunday, August 13/14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., free, throughout Town of Saugerties; www.saugertiesarttour.com. Opening reception, Friday, August 12, 5-7 p.m., free, Gallery at Opus 40, 50 Fite Road, Saugerties; (845) 246-3400, www.opus40.org.