BY BILL HORNER IIINews + Record Staff It’s spread out over the county for just a few hours and over two weekends, but for the artisans showcasing their works and studios, the 26th Chatham …
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It’s spread out over the county for just a few hours and over two weekends, but for the artisans showcasing their works and studios, the 26th Chatham Studio Tour is the culmination of months of labor.
This year’s tour, which kicks off with a reception in Siler City Friday evening and the official start of the tour on Saturday morning, showcases 52 of the county’s most talented creators and members of the Chatham Arts Guild, the tour’s organizer and promoter.
“One of the fun things about this year is that we have 10 new artists, 10 who are new to the tour, and an entirely new set of works,” said Beth Bale, the Guild’s co-president and a watercolor artist whose studio is on Walter Bright Road in Sanford. “Everybody has new work they’ve arranged to show on the tour. We all really focus on bringing out new things, new works. There will be a good supply of brand new things for people to see.”
Artists who will showcase on the tour use an array of traditional media and techniques to create their art. Creations on display and for sale include oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, drawings, glass, fiber, ceramics, jewelry, photography and mixed media works. In addition, organizers say modern-day creative approaches to create things such as digital artworks and high-voltage-induced wood designs will also be shown.
The self-guided studio tour is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the next two Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. the next two Sundays. To help guide those wishing to take part on the tour, the Chatham Arts Guild published 20,000 copies of a brochure featuring brief profiles of participating artists and a map showing the 37 different studio locations throughout the county – which include new and renovated barns, custom designed home studios and even an airplane hangar.
Ten of the participating artists are first-timers on the tour, which begins with an opening reception and exhibit at the N.C. Arts Incubator in downtown Siler City from 7-9 p.m. Friday. The reception includes samples from all participating artisans, a student show and food, and is open to the public with no admission fee.
In addition, the guild has put together an information center and Artist Exhibition at the Chatham Arts Council, located 118 West St., near the courthouse in Pittsboro. It will be open from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturdays and noon – 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 9. A tour preview and exhibit will be open weekdays and Saturdays through Dec. 29 at the N.C. Arts Incubator and will include a selection of smaller-budget works by guild artists. Finally, a student show will be held through Dec. 9 at The Peppercorn at 128 N. Chatham Ave. in Siler City.
Bale acknowledges that tour-goers will find it difficult to “take in everything.” Instead, she suggests people start with artists whose works they like from the brochure (also found on the guild’s website; see infobox).
“Pick a few of the artists you’re drawn to from the photos and descriptions in the brochure and try to catch as many as you can,” she said. “Start in the morning, stop in town for lunch, and keep going for the day if you can.”
Bale says she’s been “pretty prolific” this year in creating watercolor paintings of animals and nature for the show. Her fellow guild co-president Lani Chavez, whose studio is on Wintersage in Pittsboro, is also a watercolor artist. This year will be Chavez’ first as a studio stop on the tour – she says she’s created “tiny paintings” as small gifts as part of her display – but she’s taken part before as a visitor.
“One of my favorite things is driving on country roads and seeing the neat studios and homes,” she said. “People will have four days to do that. I think they should look at the brochure and see what they’re drawn to, and just follow their hearts and instincts and just enjoy it.” Last year, Chavez said entered the addresses of several studios into her GPS, which “mapped out a tour for me. I just followed the map and had a wonderful time.”
She described taking the tour as “educational,” since she and other artists will take time to answer questions about their works. But it also helps for tour-goers to spend money as well.
“We always encourage people to spend local,” she said. “If you have a budget, just follow your heart… We hope everyone who participates has an awesome time.”