In 1999, Gerry Edwards visited several artists’ studios and collectors’ homes featuring fine crafts as part of the Philadelphia Craft Show weekend. Gerry thought, “It was exciting and inspirational to meet so many artists, to learn about their creative approaches and see their beautiful works in intimate settings.” With this in mind, Gerry teamed up with Barbara Finneson who knew many local artists. They convinced 15 artists and master craftspeople to welcome strangers into their home studios. The tour’s early success was due to the participation of many artists who were already nationally known as well as other new, up-and-coming artists.
The first tour was sponsored by ArtWorks, a predecessor to RiverArts, with a gallery at Radcliffe Mill displaying an exhibit of tour artists’ works. Gerry put together a simple brochure that provided basic information on each artist along with driving instructions. The tour took place on a Saturday in October and cost visitors $2.
Now, 20 years later, the 2019 tour is taking place over two weekends, October 19-20 and 26-27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. The month-long exhibit of works by tour artists opens First Friday, October 4, at the RiverArts Gallery in Chestertown. The tour is still self-guided but is free to visitors. It now has more than 50 artists and artisans representing a broad range of media as well as a great variety of studios. A sophisticated brochure and website that are tied into the gallery exhibit help visitors plan their itineraries based on their own interests as well as how to navigate the countryside.
What keeps the tour fresh is the ever-changing work of so many artists. Today, many of those artists who participated in the early years of the tour are very successful. As in the past, it is still always fun to see the evolution of familiar artists. Visitors continue to enjoy the opportunity to meet and chat with artists in an intimate setting and watch those who demonstrate their techniques. They also appreciate being able to buy works at studio tour prices.
Typical of the tour are two artists who were newcomers to the tour years ago, Mary Pritchard and Rob Glebe, who are now nationally known. It has been a joy to see how their works and studios have evolved. Especially interesting has also been the evolution of the Clay Studio.
Mary Pritchard originally worked in acrylics but changed to pastels. That was a major turning point for her. Over the years, her pastels have gotten more complex. She discovered her favorite pastel surface and started her now well-known barn series as well as the grasses and reflections of the Eastern Shore. She currently teaches classes and workshops and, in the past, participated in numerous juried plein air events, including Plein Air Annapolis and Plein Air Easton.
Mary designed and co-owned the Cannon Street Studios, a group of studios built to provide working spaces. Over time, she worked in several different studios. In her last years there, she shared a space with Sue Wright, now a nationally known master knitter, who is also on this year’s tour. When the studios were sold, Mary built a new studio in the barn behind her house where she has been ever since. Enjoy Mary’s garden as well as her studio. As for the Cannon Street Studios, there are now four studios open to the public during the tour.
Full of patterns, textures and patinas inspired by nature, Rob Glebe’s metal work has evolved from creating vessels, to wall art pieces, to furniture and sculpture. He explores three-dimensional concepts integrating metal leaves, pods, blossoms, and other natural motifs. He also welcomes collaboration and custom commissions as sources of new ideas and inspiration.
Rob continually refines his workshop, trying to keep things organized and free of contamination of the elements with which he is working. Downstairs, he does his welding and machine work. Upstairs is a clean space for assembly and a paint and finishing room.
The now extremely popular RiverArts Clay Studio started out small in Radcliffe Mill. When Kent County took over the former Coast Guard Station in Still Pond in 2011 the Clay Studio moved there. In addition to the Clay Studio, studios were rented out to artists from Kent County and beyond.
In 2014, the Clay Studio was moved to Chestertown. Since moving to High Street, it has really blossomed with open studio hours seven days a week. Accomplished instructors offer workshops for all skill levels, novices to experienced students, in wheel throwing and hand-building, Raku and other specialized techniques. During the tour, visitors see potters at work. Ceramics donated by these potters are for sale.
For more information on the tour, visit www.studiotour.chestertownriverarts.org, call 410-778-6300 or drop by the gallery at 315 High Street in the breezeway. Chestertown RiverArts is a member-supported, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its’ mission is: “To be the Place Where the Arts Meet the Community”
This year’s Chestertown RiverArts Studio Tour, taking place October 19-20 and 26-27, will have more than 60 participants of which 11 are new to the tour.
Visitors will have the chance to see the work of seven artists, four of which are new to the tour, in the very special studio at Heron Point, a local retirement community. This studio has individual stations that provide all that is needed to create work in multiple media. Display areas can be found both in the studio itself and in the community’s extensive gallery.
Leslie Baldwin works in acrylics and watercolor. She enjoys using texture and color to express her love for nature and now the sea. Currently, Leslie is approaching her work in a less literal way to capture the patterns found in her gardens, both in Chestertown and in Nantucket, where she spends the summer. Having been mentored by several fine artists at Heron Point, she is pushing in new directions.
John Guthrie is a photographer whose subjects are mainly of people and landscapes. He likes to show the interplay between the subject and the situation. For example, John notes “a person’s emotional expression may reflect the social setting or a lake may be defined by the mountain behind it.” John uses form and light as fundamentals while color is an accent.
Betty McClintock was an active painter for many years with a special interest in portraiture. She put her brushes down 20 years ago due to failing eyesight, but once at Heron Point, she resolved to paint again. While frustrated that fine detail work was no longer possible, she embraced color and form, first in surrealistic “moonscapes” and more recently in vivid garden and landscape paintings. At 98 she is an inspiration to all who appreciate art.
Jane Scott has been painting with watercolors since the 1970’s. These realistic paintings have varied subject matter. She enjoys capturing animals such as sheep and chickens. Her landscapes, often done in plein air, reflect the beauty of the Eastern Shore and Maine. And, of course, Jane enjoys creating portraits of her grandchildren.
For 30 years, Dolly Baker focused on pen and ink botanical illustrations for publication. Over 100 of her drawings have been published for use by the University of Maryland, US Fish & Wildlife as well as a series in the collection of Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University. She now enjoys working in watercolors as she continues to create detailed-oriented botanically themed paintings. Dolly will welcome visitors to a pop-up studio in Chestertown where her works will be on display as well as her simple, practical set-up.
Judy Magladry works in multiple media: drawings/illustrations, mixed media, photography, and oils. She worked with mixed media for her illustrations in her two ABC children’s books. Her main medium is oil, using a palette knife as her instrument of choice. Her subject matter includes animals/pets, landscapes, and still life. Her impressionistic approach gives her work an expressive and whimsical style with a goal to make viewers smile.
Debbie Pavlovcic works primarily in mixed media and mosaics. For her, “mosaic work is a representation of the broken parts of lives being pieced back together to make a beautiful story.” Though primarily incorporating glass, Debbie also likes to include jewelry, pottery, fabric, or any other found object which fits into what she is trying to portray visually. Her work will be on display at the Linda Roy Walls’ Studio, known for Linda’s rich photography of wildlife and landscapes.
Two artists will have booths at the RiverArts Education Center, which accommodates five artists in all. Jeanette Faber works in fiber, mixed media, polymer clay and beads. She has been working with polymer clay for 24 years. She concentrates on surface finishes and antiquing techniques. Polymer clay has opened the door to beaded jewelry and many mixed media art forms.
Kris Kelley is a contemporary artist and educator. She works in a range of media, including acrylic paintings, drawing/illustration, mixed media, photography, and printmaking. Kate draws on her background in psychology and personally difficult times, to explore ideas through photography, often augmented with video or sculpture. Her works are embedded with psychological elements, involving ideas about identity, the body, and the role of memory. See Kris’ work at Finishing Touch.
Diane Rapisi is a contemporary realist painter whose work reflects the fusing of impressionist coloring with the form and function of the traditional Italian and French academies. She works in pastels, oil, charcoal and graphite. Diane was featured in the new book, Pure Pastel: Contemporary Works by Today’s Top Artists. Diane conducts workshops both nationally and internationally, including a 2017 tour through 10 cities in Australia and New Zealand. Diane’s work will be on view at Maryland Heritage Properties.