Sunday, July 17, 2011

Open Studios Tour: Enchanting Art

On Saturday, my husband and I spent a wonderful day touring artists' studios in Washington County, NY.

I couldn't help but notice that the success of this event depended largely on the infusion of those elements described by Buffy Hamilton in her presentation, libraries as communally constructed sites of participatory learning: creating conversations and connections through enchantment. (video now on YouTube)


Open Studios is a juried event. The organizers of this free, self-guided tour made sure that only established artists, with an respected body of work, were featured. This was a celebration of fine art, not a craft fair.


Each artist was present and eager to talk with visitors. When I asked for permission to take photos, I was encouraged to do so; the artists themselves happily posed with their paintings. Hosts had stories to share: about the evolution of their career, the steps in the creative process, what they choose to incorporate into their art and why. This infused products with meaning and put them into context for interested viewers...both the artists and the art thus became accessible and likable.

Fantastic Product or Service

The Open Studios site advertised that "professional artists will once again open their doors...
offering a glimpse into their creative lifestyles, and a unique opportunity to purchase great art directly from their studios," and they delivered on the promise. Artists offered special discounts and personally signed purchases. Casual browsers were greeted as warmly as paying customers. At each venue, some sort of refreshment was offered, from homemade cookies & lemonade to colorfully-wrapped Chinese sweets. In addition, Open Studios of Washington County and its sponsors hosted a complimentary reception for all tour visitors on the first evening of the two-day event, with hors d’oeuvres wine, and "a chance to meet with all the artists and other Open Studios visitors and to share stories and discoveries of the day."

Other Positive Attributes
  • choice...of locations and art genres [wouldn't it be fun to initiate a self-guided tour of local libraries, a mix of public, academic & school?]
  • each studio displayed both finished pieces and works in progress, giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how art is created
  • business cards, with website addresses, were freely distributed - interested people could ue the information they contained to learn more about the artists (and perhaps become future customers)
  • variety of architectural design: studios were located in renovated barns, farmhouses, and converted factories; common to all were good natural lighting, plentiful space, and numerous display options
  • setting: Washington County is largely rural, with small villages rather than big cities. Nature is nearby and evident, creating a calming, creatively-stimulating atmosphere

In the Library

Wikipedia defines an artist as "a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art." Librarians fit all of those descriptors, as they assist in the acquisition, creation, and dissemination of information (the artistic product).

In a logical extension of the concept of librarian/artist, libraries would become less like knowledge warehouses and more like artists' studios, incorporating interesting design, transparency, and personalized service.

Enchanting spaces.

See additional photos in the Open Studios of Washington County, NY Flickr set

"Open Studios of Washington County, NY" by dmcordell
"Three Artists: Leslie Parke,
Adriano Manocchia, Leslie Peck" by dmcordell
Will Moses signing a copy of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for Hagan" by dmcordell
"110/i365" by Purple Phoenix


Leslie said...

I am so delighted that the efforts we made were so perfectly received by you. We wanted to engage with everyone who came to see us. With this being our third tour, some of the artists have developed meaningful relationships with the people who return time and time again. They start knowing our work better than anyone, because they have watched it evolve and they have seen it in context.

I have had a conservationist give me advise, visitors lend me books, and others who have connected me with other artists, dealers and collectors. It is no longer just about the artist, it is about the community (and I mean that term broadly) in which the work is created.

Thank you for your wonderful post about our tour!!!!

Gwich Librarian said...

Hi Diane,
Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on my blog summervirtualblogger. I am so impressed by your blogspot. Since I work in Washington County I was delighted to see that you attended the wonderful tour that was offered over the weekend. I am amazed at the talent that overflows within this rural community. As I read your post I thought you might be interested in learning about a young man that I have had the pleasure of knowing since he was in kindergarten. His name is Jacob Houston and he recently graduated from Greenwich High School. He is, in my opinion, extremely gifted. His website is and I believe that he is having his work displayed at a Washington Co. gallery throughout August.
Thanks again Diane and I look forward to reading more of your blogs!

Gwich Librarian said...

By the way, I think your idea of a tour of local school, public and academic libraries is a great one!

Serena Kovalosky said...

What a beautiful article on our Open Studios! As the co-founder of the event, I am pleased that what we originally set out to accomplish six years ago has evolved into a highly respected, professional Open Studios.

Everyone helped make that happen, from the artists who continually raise the bar on their work to the organizers who are constantly striving to perfect the operations so that visitors can fully appreciate the landscape and the art.

And to the media and people like you who helped spread the word: a hearty thank you!

Serena Kovalosky

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