Monday 10 September 2012

Putting Art on the Map

Bring together a beautiful, rural community, an enthusiastic group of artists with interesting studio spaces, plus a few willing volunteers, and what do you have? Why, an Art Studio Tour, of course! Sounds simple, right? Well let me tell you: although it may not be rocket science, it's a lot of work to put together an event like this. For one thing, organizing a bunch of independent-minded artists is kind of like herding cats. It's do-able but there's a fair bit of effort involved. For another, there are a lot of details to figure out and execute - a list that's so long I won't bore you with it here but it includes basically everything but the proverbial kitchen sink.

This is the fourth year I've been a coordinator of the Langley Art Studio Tour, which was the brainchild of myself and fellow Langley artist Vivian Harder, and while we've learned a lot over past years, getting a firm handle on all the elements of organizing the event continues to be a work in progress. Every year it gets better, more polished, and draws more visitors, and this year we expect that positive trend to continue. Thankfully our organizing committee has grown from two to four with the addition of local artist Donna Leavens and Jeanette Parkes of the Loafing Shed Glass Studio and we have been grateful to share the load with them.

One of the best things about participating in the tour is having the opportunity to welcome visitors to my home studio. Some have come specifically to see me and my art (or my guest artist who is, this year, oil painter and jeweller Reet Herder), some are working their way systematically through the list of studios on the map (they treat it as kind of a scavenger hunt), while others have happened to see the signs on the road and simply wandered in. Having the opportunity to meet and talk to people about my art, and to do so in the place where I make it, is as gratifying for me as it is for them. For those who are really interested, I can show them a quick demonstration of silk painting or coloured pencil drawing, and even offer them a chance to try it for themselves. It's a golden opportunity for people to learn about artists and art making, and perhaps increase their appreciation for what we do and how we do it. For us artists, we get to make great new connections with the public and raise our profiles in the local community.

My art studio: Where it all happens!
My adjoining display room, complete with resident cat.
Another positive thing about the tour is the connections we artists are able to form with one another. Art making is often an isolating practice: we tend to work quietly away, hunkered down in our individual studios. An event like this brings us together in a unique manner as we present our work to the community. My only regret is that, as a participant, I'm unable to take the tour myself!

For details about the Langley Art Studio Tour, which is coming up on September 22-23 and 29-30, visit My studio is Number 16 on the map and if you're in the area I hope you'll drop by for a visit.

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