Visiting an artist in their studio offers a unique perspective on their work. Unlike the gallery experience, in which one rarely meets the exhibiting artist, an open studio tour is a two-way street, where visitors get to ask questions of the artists and the artists get feedback. Visitors have the opportunity to see works-in-progress as well as completed works, and some of the artists offer a hands-on experience. Tourgoers get a behind-the-scenes peek at where artists work and how they live, and most of the studios will offer works for sale at affordable prices.
The 17th annual Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour will kick off the night before with an opening reception on Friday, August 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Gallery at Opus 40. Each of the tour artists will have work on display, and most will be in attendance to mingle and talk about their art. Several hundred attendees usually show up at the reception, which is free and open to everyone. Refreshments are offered, and the regular admission fee to Opus 40 that evening is waived.
The studio tour experience is offered all weekend on Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is no fee to pay and the tour is self-guided; one has only to pick up a map from one of many local businesses or print one out online. Chart a course, and then visit as many or as few studios as desired, taking in a range of artist studios or concentrating in depth on just a few.
According to tour coordinator Barbara Bravo, this year’s event features 37 artists and makers skilled in at least 14 creative disciplines. There are painters working in oils and acrylics, digital and collage artists, printmakers, mixed-media artists, photographers and videographers, and sculptors working with materials that range from polished steel to industrial debris.
A similar variety in materials can be found with the two furnituremakers on the tour: One works with vintage barn wood and the other with fine hardwoods. The tour features a land artist, two jewelrymakers – one using silver, the other fused glass – and there is a devotee of Old World craftsmanship who makes bows, arrows and quivers using traditional tools and locally harvested materials. And a number of clay and ceramic artists (including Bravo) create work that runs the gamut from figurative to functional to “funky-fun,” as she puts it.
The participating artists on this year’s tour are Isaac Abrams, abstract painting; Tara Bach, abstract painting; Kristin Barton, abstract painting; Barbara Bravo, painted paper collage and sculptural ceramic tiles; David Brown, steel sculpture; Michael Ciccone, multimedia sculpture from industrial debris; Vince Curry, bowmaker; Susan Dougherty, fused glass jewelry; Ruth Edwy, abstract landscapes; Josepha Gutelius, painting; Mikhail Horowitz, collage; Alex Kveton, stainless steel sculpture; Barbara Tepper Levy, silver jewelry and collage; Yvette Lewis, painting; Ulf Loven, painting; Brian Lynch, painting and printmaking; Iain Machell, drawing and sculpture; Marjorie Magid, painting; Meredith Morabito, figurative clay sculpture; Hugh Morris, painter; Michael Nelson, photographer; Gus Pedersen, furnituremaker; Bill Reinhart, painter; Tad Richards, digital painting; Jacquie Roland, painter; Mandolyn Wilson Rosen, painting; Marsha Kaufman Rubinstein, pottery; David Sarlin, photography; Istar Schwager, painting and collage; Robert Sherman, barn wood furniture; Michael Sullivan Smith, land art; Viorica Stan, painting and mixed media; Cornelia Seckel for Raymond J. Steiner (deceased February 2019), painting; Ben Suga, pottery; Robert Troxell, ceramic artist; Marck Webster, pencil drawings; and Carol Zaloom, linocut prints.
The first Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour, back in 2002, had just 11 artists participating. Bravo, as one of the founding members, saw the need for some organization and marketing if the tour was to be continued. She volunteered to serve as tour coordinator the following year, bringing the skills she had developed over the years in her ceramics business, and has been the organizer since. In 2017, she received an Ulster County Executive’s Arts Award in the category of Volunteer in Support of the Arts from then-executive Mike Hein. Bravo would be too modest to say so to this reporter, but, having previewed this event for a number of years now (although not nearly as many as she’s been doing this), it’s apparent that her efforts in producing this tour every year have been crucial to its success.
“Visiting the studios and talking with the artists is only part of the experience,” she says. “I’ve been asking myself lately, ‘What is the importance of art? How does it impact our lives?’ And I found a humble answer in a quote from Pablo Picasso. He said, ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’”
Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour, Saturday and Sunday, August 10-11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., free, Town of Saugerties; www.saugertiesarttour.com.
Opening reception, Friday, August 9, 5-7 p.m., free, Gallery at Opus 40, 50 Fite Road, Saugerties; (845) 246-3400, www.opus40.org.