Yellow Springs Artists Studio Tour — Art and the artist on display
- Published: October 18, 2012
The once-a-year chance to peek inside a local artist’s studio and discover their process draws some of the biggest art-loving crowds to Yellow Springs each October. And it’s no wonder, according to the organizers of the annual Yellow Springs Artist Studio Tour and Sale, because buying art on the tour is more than a financial transaction — it’s a relationship.
“A face comes with the piece [they buy],” explained potter Bruce Grimes, whose Clifton studio is part of this year’s tour. “And they gain an understanding of both what we do and how we do it.”
The two-day tour, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, and Sunday, Oct. 21, features the work of 27 artists spread across eight studios in and around the village. Multiple media are highlighted, from pottery, painting and jewelry to photographs printed on wood, stained glass, and furniture. Visitors can pick up a location map the day of the event at The Winds Café, Young’s Jersey Dairy or the Chamber of Commerce office, or go online to www.ysarts.org. Traveling by car to each site is recommended.
The studio tour’s goals are threefold: educate art enthusiasts, attract new customers for artists and bring visitors to the community. And since the tour began in 2004, it seems to have paid off for art-lover, artist and community alike. According to lead organizer Lisa Goldberg, the tour is typically one of downtown’s heaviest tourist traffic days and one of the best sales days for local artists, not to mention a field day for art collectors.
“One of my goals with the studio tour was the overall economic benefit to the community,” said Goldberg, herself a featured potter. Goldberg estimates that the most visited studios on the tour get more than 500 visitors each day.
Local fiber artist Pam Geisel, whose studio is part of the tour, calculates that 60 to 75 percent of visitors make a purchase at her studio, a far higher number than at art fairs. While art fairs may attract many thousands of visitors, the studio tour attracts a clientele not interested in fried food or people-watching but in buying art, Grimes added.
“I would rather have a smaller number of people with a higher number of buyers,” Geisel said. An art quilter who makes unusual quilts with materials like cotton, silk and velvet and uses beads, buttons and even old neckties and T-shirts, Geisel finds herself explaining the difference between a quilt, a quilt top and an art quilt to many a tour visitor. (Hint: the quilt top is the design on the top layer, while quilting brings the layers together. Art quilts hang on walls like paintings; they’re not draped on beds).
That kind of education can only arise out of the more intimate experience of the tour, rather than in a 10×10 booth space at an art fair, added Vicki Rulli, a new tour participant. Learning the secret behind creating high-quality artwork is one of the tour’s greatest lures, since “knowing the process is a big deal,” Rulli said. And the mixed media artist’s process is just that. The photographs taken by Rulli and her husband, Tom Heaphey, are printed in their studio not on paper but on large wood block panels and pieces of metal. Sometimes the photographs are then hand painted with beeswax encaustics. Compared to a regular print, the more complex methods add texture and depth, and create the feeling of looking at a memory, Rulli explained.
For Grimes, a potter with 52 years of clay experience, educating art-lovers is paramount. He has taught at a handful of universities over the years and knows that learning about process gives art patrons a much deeper appreciation for the artwork. He produces both functional and decorative pottery using a kiln he built. Goldberg, who uses a soda kiln she built on her property to create a unique glaze with baking soda and ash, often finds herself explaining that potters don’t bake clay in their household ovens. Instead, potters need a lot of equipment and skill.
“Our work isn’t cheap to do, which is why it costs more than the cheap stuff at Target that comes from China,” Goldberg said.
At each tour location there are several guest artists exhibiting their wares, creating a variety of artistic media at each stop. That way visitors are exposed to a wide range of art styles and methods, Goldberg said. Geisel will share her studio, for example, with watercolor painter Libby Rudolf, mosaic and glass artist Guustie Alvarado and Lisa Wolters, who presses messages into sculptural clay vessels.
Other local artists featured on this year’s tour are whimsical illustrator Kathy Vernor Moulton, Chris Glaser, whose Native American-influenced paintings evoke a dreamscape, Naysan McIlhargey, who produces functional folk pottery, photo-realistic acrylic painter Jason Morgan, Alice Young-Basora, who uses painted canvas flowers in jewelry, and many more.
Visit www.ysarts.org for more artist information and a map of the tour.