20 Washington County artists cooperate to market and promote their art
Art may be a solitary endeavor, but 20 artists in Washington County, N.Y., believe promoting and selling it doesn’t have to be.
On July 13-16, Open Studios of Washington County makes its biennial return to the region. The event launched in 2007 and has brought thousands of visitors to local studios while generating significant revenue for participating artists. It has also raised the visibility of the artists in the communities in which they live.
“Open Studios is a great opportunity for people to discover the extraordinary talent of our regional artists,” said Sue Sanderson, organizer, Open Studios of Washington County. “This year we have a record 20 artists. Many are nationally and internationally acclaimed. Those who aren’t are making their mark. And all support each other.”
The diversity of the artists is important to the success of the tour. Established tour artists attract an engaged audience and bring credibility to the event. First-time tour artists offer collectors the opportunity to discover new, exciting talent. It’s an important balance.
Greenwich artist Karen Koziol experienced the enthusiasm for new artists during the 2015 tour. “Doing the tour was absolutely exhilarating,” said Koziol. “People were really engaged and interested in what I was doing, why I was doing it and how I was doing it. I made some great connections.”
Elana Mark, who once taught art in Israel and now creates art from her Cambridge Village studio, is confident her first experience on the tour will go just as well. “I’ve gone on the tour in the past, and I thought it was fantastic. The chance to see the work of other artists was inspiring. I would go home energized and ready to paint. I’m looking forward to sharing my work, and I hope people feel the same way.”
For returning artists, Open Studios is an opportunity to show both new work and old, as well as revisit with past tour goers.
“Open Studios is great in that it allows me to share such a full range of my work, including archival pieces that still resonate with me. It demonstrates my development as an artist,” said Leslie Ferst, a clay sculptor and potter based in Cambridge. “Also, I have people who come back from past tours and continue to collect my work. Being connected to the community and seeing that people really appreciate what I do really hits me. It’s important.”
Due to the events popularity, the 2017 tour has been extended to four days. The additional days will allow participants to spend more time with a broader range of artists—and more time to experience different aspects of Washington County’s cultural richness.
In addition, the 2017 tour for the first time will offer artist workshops and demos, as seven Open Studios artists will provide guests with a deeper look into their art, techniques and inspiration. Workshops include:
- Finding the Right Composition, with Hannie Eisma Varosy
- Making Oil Paint, with Leslie Parke
- Alla Prima Painting, with Anne Sutherland
- Ink on Yupo, with Jeri Macdonald
- Throwing Clay on the Wheel & Hand Building Ceramic Sculpture, with Leslie Ferst
- Encaustic Technique, with Karen Koziol
- Creating a Hand-Painted Floorcloth, with Mitch Liner
Workshop details and registration is available online at studiotour.org/demos. Demonstrations are limited to 12 guests.
According to Leslie Peck, who has participated in multiple tours, Open Studios is successful because of the collective influence of its artists.
“Most of the artists on the tour show in galleries, but we also have a desire to be more visible and recognized in our communities,” said Peck. “Open Studios is our way of helping each other do that. By each of us doing a little to promote the tour we have a big impact.”
This year’s Open Studios will feature a range of mediums, from painting to photography, clay arts and sculpture. Participating artists include Gigi Begin, John Begin, Ian Creitz, Leslie Ferst, Ann Fitzgibbons, Barbara Harshman, Jacob Houston, Karen Koziol, Stephen Lack, Mitch Liner, Jeri Macdonald, Elena Mark, Leah McCloskey, Leslie Parke, Leslie Peck, Anne Sutherland, Gyula Varosy, Hannie Eisma Varosy, Regina Wickham and Don Wynn.
All exhibited work on the tour will be available for purchase at the studios. All proceeds go directly to the artists. Each participating artist will open their studio or home from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during tour dates.
“What’s wonderful about Open Studios Tour is that people who come are really interested in the process,” said Leslie Parke, a life-long artist located in Cambridge. “They care about how I’m working, and for me it’s the feedback I receive from people who look seriously at my work that I love most about the tour.”
First-time tour artist Jacob Houston of Greenwich agrees. It’s all about the feedback. “I just want my art to make people happy,” he said. Houston’s acrylic paintings of the Washington County countryside, distant cityscapes and re-creating of architectural styles are sure to accomplish just that. As will four days of artists collaborating to promote both their work and the work of fellow Washington County artists.