Following a yearlong hiatus, the nonprofit organization Artstra will host Clark County’s eighth Open Studios Tour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7.
The popular self-guided tour celebrates the creativity of local artists and artisans as they open their doors to the public.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to get out and experience the life of an artist,” said Open Studios Director Jennifer Williams. “With so many different types of artists being featured, there’s something for everyone’s liking.”
Williams was inspired to start the event in 2013 after she attended Artstra’s Arts and Cultural Summit the year prior. The community was invited to discuss art and what they wanted to see, and according to Williams, feedback overwhelmingly showed many people wanted an Open Studios Tour, which Clark County didn’t have at that time.
Since Williams would often take her friends to other people’s studios for fun, she decided a larger event of a similar nature was needed in the community because it allows artists to show their work to a larger audience.
“The real reason I did it was I had accidentally met a couple of artists through different means such as Michelle Allen,” Williams said. “She has been an artist in the community for 20 years and so have I, and we’ve never crossed paths or had any idea what each other’s art looked like. So the point of all this is that Open Studios uncovers the amazing art community that we have here. There’s always been artists here, but nobody knew about them.”
An example of an artist being featured in the tour is Ann Fleming, who just moved from White Salmon to Ridgefield. She is a bronze sculptor, ceramics artist, and painter whose had her painting, “Release Peace,” featured in the Open Studios Tour’s marketing material. Williams felt the image was inspirational for this year.
Other examples include Connie Ford, who weaves baskets using sweet grass, red and yellow cedar, willow, driftwood, bark and yard cuttings. Then there’s Anne Gilmour, who has her studio on a farm. Gilmour collects wool from the sheep she raises, which she later threads and weaves.
Although she was not a featured artist on the last few tours, Williams will be a participant again this year as she shows off her environmental landscape paintings.
“I haven’t had my studio open in four years because I’ve just been painting from my galleries and I’ve been too busy directing the tour,” Williams said. “I’m very excited to be back on the tour this year as a participant and (am) looking forward to reconnecting with the community.”
Not only are the works of art worth highlighting, but their location is a fun spectacle in itself. Williams mentioned Mary Grout, who lives by the Lewis River in Woodland, and does ceramic work.
“So you’re not only seeing their art, but you’re getting the whole package,” Williams said.
Since there are 50 featured artists strewn throughout Clark County, Williams suggests looking at the artist directory map on Artstra’s website to find the artists located in the vicinity of where the tour participant lives.
“Who knows, maybe your neighbor is an artist and you’ve never known it,” she said.
Another way to whittle down the options, Williams said, is for participants to go online to see whose work they’re interested in by looking at the category filters on Artstra’s artist page featured on its website.
For example, someone who has taken a glassmaking class and wants to learn more, can go online to see who makes glass art. For those who are not comfortable navigating the map online, Williams said people can turn the map into a PDF and print it out.
The Open Studios artist’s list, which has the filters, can be found online at artstra.org/2021-open-studios-artists.
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