Slowly but surely, cultural tourism in our region is beginning to bounce back from the hit it took from COVID-19. Not only are theaters, museums and concert halls opening their doors again, but art crawls are coming back as well, as it becomes safer for people to meet face-to-face.
After a two-year hiatus, the Gardiner Open Studio Tour is being revived on April 30 and May 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This should have been the tenth year for GOST, whose spooky acronym derives from the fact that its first incarnation happened just before Halloween in 2013. In some of the following years it even had spring and fall iterations, and participation swelled from nine artists the first year to 22 by 2018.
The number of artists to visit would have been that high again this year, had not two new participants – a luthier and a custom furniture-maker – decided to drop out due to being swamped with work, according to Annie O’Neill. A painter and ceramist known for her colorful pottery inspired by Oaxacan folk art, featuring whimsical animal and bird figures, O’Neill has been one of the organizers of GOST since its founding.
“Organizing the tour now, while we’re still in COVID mode, is a little more difficult because we can’t meet up,” she says. Brainstorming sessions had to happen via Zoom this year. And yet it all managed to come together, and is even scheduled a little earlier than in its last few iterations to avoid coinciding with other events that compete for the same audience in May. “I hope it doesn’t snow on that weekend!”
The protocols for masking, distancing and showing proof of vaccination will vary from studio to studio, so calling ahead is wise if you object to such measures. “It’s up to the individual artist as to whether they want people masked or not,” says O’Neill.
As in past years, the Tour is self-guided, with a full brochure and map easily downloadable at www.gardineropenstudiotour.com/about. This year some of the artists will be clustered at a single studio, so if you want to hit them all, you can do it in 16 stops. There will be roadsigns all along the route. “It’s very easy to navigate your way around.”
As with past GOST events, the artists who participate come and go, depending on what other demands their work and family lives are currently putting on them. A couple of past hosts will be out of the country, O’Neill says, and some are simply too busy: a good sign for the arts economy. D. M. Weil, one of the founders and early organizers of GOST, is “making a new body of work,” for example. The flip side is that a number of brand-new artists will be joining the tour this year, and a couple who lapsed in previous years will be coming back.
One new addition this year is Marcy Bernstein, director of Roost Studios & Art Gallery in New Paltz, who works in paint and mixed media. Another new painter, Scott Roberts, does contemporary landscapes. “Vicki Morgan in her previous life was an illustrators’ rep, but she also does strong gestural drawing herself. She’s retired and now able to do her own work again,” O’Neill reports. Also new to the tour are Denise Aumick, who works in fiber mixed media, and Rich Cerruto, who makes Shaker-style oval wooden boxes.
O’Neill thinks that Cerruto might be one of the artists who will offer demos of his work for visitors. “Marilyn Perry will definitely be working in encaustics,” she says. “John [Varriano] and Marsha [Massih] I suspect will be painting.” And Lynn Isaacson will be hosting two other ceramists, Amy Schnitzer and Lysa Hoffman, at her large pottery studio in Pine Bush, so “You’ll probably see people working.” Other artists will simply have work up for display and sale.
The full list of participating artists in GOST 2022 includes ceramists Michelle Rhodes, Pam and Craig Booth, Tyffany Dyckman, O’Neill, Isaacson, Schnitzer and Hoffman; clockmaker Leonie Lacouette; illustrator Morgan; fiber artists Alexa Ginsburg and Aumick; mixed-media artists Meadow, Anna Davis and Bernstein; painters Stacie Flint, Varriano, Massih, Roberts and Perry; and woodworker Cerruto.
All of the studios are open free of charge, of course, though you may find yourself unable to resist the urge to acquire some artwork to take home. Visitors are also encouraged to patronize GOST’s business sponsors, which include local eateries Café Mio and the Mountain Brauhaus in Gardiner and the Grazery in New Paltz. To find out more about the Gardiner Open Studio Tour and see samples of work by the participating artists, visit www.gardineropenstudiotour.com.