With the 19th annual Great Falls Studios tour on the horizon, the “number of artists joining the membership organization has increased dramatically,” said organization president Linda Jones.
The tour will take place from October 21 to 23, with several new member artists showing art in their studios on the tour for the first time this year.
Interest in attending and participating in annual art events has increased as the CDC lifted COVID restrictions on group activities. Artists across the region have noted the public’s increasing desire to be around artworks, which they attribute to a yearning for new visual stimulation after feeling cooped up for so long.
People are hungry for emotional (and physical) escape, inspiration and, sometimes, decorating ideas, said the organizers of the studio tour.
Every October for the past 18 years, artists and artisans living along the winding country roads of Great Falls have opened their studio doors to the public. Visitors meet potters, printers, painters, jewelry makers, photographers and sculptors all working in their own creative habitats. The 2022 tour offers an opportunity to enjoy the work of 34 artists in 24 widely varying artist studio settings, ranging from repurposed milk and orchard houses on a centuries-old farm to a newly built contemporary loft near a mid-century house.
New member Pamela Arent’s studio is near a spring-fed pond with great blue herons that often fish for lunch. Pamela uses a variety of mediums to create colorful works that play with patterns, layers, fluidity and form. Her pieces on paper combine ink, watercolor and drawn lines in deliberate and delicate washes, very reminiscent of maps.
Another new artist on the tour is Jenn Griffith, who describes her 1974 home as “like a cross between a Pizza Hut and a moon landing base.” But she says that the beautiful, stained-glass domed foyer with two large studios on either side sold them on the house when they bought it a year ago. Jenn and her husband are both creative types, who love having one studio for her eclectic art (which includes painting, mosaic table-making, fiber art, and Ukrainian psanky egg dying) and another for her musician husband.
Lead sponsors of the Studio Tour this year are TD Bank Great Falls, Brightview Assisted Living Facility in Great Falls – which will double as a tour stop with artists displaying their art – and Moss Building and Design. Moss helped architect-turned-artist Parinaz Bahadori remodel her home in a farmhouse style, converting a horse barn into a working studio with a large gallery area. Parinaz, who has been on the tour for several years, will exhibit her mixed-media paintings and demonstrate her collage technique each day at 4 p.m.
The primary purpose of studio tour is educational. While artists will have work available for purchase, the organization’s main goal is to provide a wide variety of family-friendly demonstrations and hands-on experiences over the course of the day event.
New member Sandi Buffie will demonstrate metalworking and jewelry designs; Begonia Morton will teach a painting-with-wine technique; Jennifer Duncan will show how to create an accordion sketchbook; Cindy Grisdela will give live quilting demonstrations; Dorry Emmer will lead daily garden tours; Robin Smith will help guests try their hand at throwing pottery on a wheel; Will Tuthill will offer handmade printing demos on his antique press; and other artists will demonstrate their widely varied painting styles.
A visit to Jan Heginbotham’s recently made bespoke studio will feature oil and gouache paintings as well as bronze and plaster sculptures.
Working as a classically trained, award-winning sculptor for more than 30 years, Heginbotham expanded her repertoire to include painting eight years ago. Her work bridges the line between realism and abstraction.
Hidden Springs Farm is always a highlight on the tour. Owner Laura Nichols — a well-known local potter and founder of the Great Falls Studios — will be working on her wheel and performing several different types of “fireworks,” including raku, saggar, obvara and naked raku.
On the Saturday afternoon of the tour, Great Falls Studios member Jody Grossman will be at the farm to do an Indigo Dye, allowing visitors to participate with their own materials, and Nichols’ daughter Jenny will use her demonstrate ink and stamps to create prints, cards and textiles.
Three working multi-artist studio spaces near the center of the town of Great Falls will be overflowing with new work and activity. The Artists’ Studio, which has been a fixture in the town for eight years, houses nine artists. The art of several other artists will be exhibited at Artists on the Green and the Artists’ Loft, also on the Village Green.
An artwork from each participating artist will be displayed at the Great Falls Community Library, where a “preview” peak at the work of each touring artist will be available throughout the month of October.
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For more information, see the website at www.greatfallsstudios.com.