The Rural Artist Studio Tour is back, and the eight participating studios will offer access to an inventory that has swelled during the pandemic.
Artists invite the public to visit their workspaces during the 11th annual Rural Artist Studio Tour from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 1.
The casual, self-guided tour is both a learning experience and provides eight different stops, just north of Fort Wayne in Leo and Spencerville. There is no cost to attend and art will be available for purchase at each stop.
Stops in the tour include:
• Kristy Jo Beber Stoneware Pottery, 9719 Hosler Road, Leo
• Holly Heath Photography, 4435-B Leo Rd. (State Road 1), Leo. hollyheath.com, 260-627-8600
• Studio Bethshan: Concrete Candles at Olde Church Shoppes, 10629 Main St., Leo. 260-627-8627
• Janet Webb Jewelry at Beside Still Waters Greenhouse, 18017 Devall Road, Spencerville
• William Steffen, 2724 North County Line Road E, Spencerville, 260-242-2294
• The Art Farm: Lisa Vetter & Paul Siefert, 17612 North County Line Road E, Spencerville; www.artfarmindiana.com & Facebook & Instagram, 260-238-4755
The majority of the artists on the tour are full-time artists, who show at art fairs and galleries around the country. Some also teach and host workshops.
According to the event press release, the tour will be a chance to support local artists, who have had a hard time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also help visitors find inspiration from other artists.
For many artists, it’s one day of the year to check out an artist’s workspace before the hosts close it to the public.
The first tour was held in May 2010.
“Of course, like so many events, we had to cancel ours in 2020. Small businesses, including our artists, have taken a major hit this past year. This event is a great chance to support local artists … some of the artists might even be your neighbors,” said Kristy Jo Beber, organizer of the tour.
“Last year was difficult for all small businesses, and artists are about as small as a business can be, usually just one person or two. We make art and we depend on events to sell that art. I usually take part in 12 or more events, and last year I made it to only three events. Some artists didn’t make it to any event. So some got other jobs, or we depended on savings or a spouse, and we all got by.
“But now we’re looking forward to seeing the visitors again, seeing their smiles and their eyes.”
Printed maps will be available at all stops the day of event or people can pick one up in advance at several local businesses, including The Orchard Gallery, Artlink and The Art Museum in Fort Wayne and Olde Church Shoppes in Leo.
Artists in pottery, photography, candle and jewelry making, and wood are featured.
“Some artists haven’t been selling at all. Bill Steffen has continued making. He makes the turned wooden bowl art and the wooden boxes. And he has been stashing it around his house like a squirrel stashing nuts for winter. So he will have a good selection,” Beber said. “And for most of us this is our first big thing for the season so people will be able to get the first selection of the year.”
In keeping with local COVID-19 safety precautions, as per the Allen County Health Department, masks will be required at each stop and hand sanitizer will be available as well.
“Some artists are limiting numbers. The Art Farm, for instance, is allowing only six people at a time inside the studio. But they have a big property and you will enjoy wandering there. One of our sponsors, Riverview Native Nursery, is right across the road and will be selling native plants. Another greenhouse, Beside Still Waters, also will be selling outside. And we will be taking payments outside, to reduce foot traffic inside the studio,” Beber said.
According to the event press release, Riverview Native Nursery & Beside Still Waters Greenhouse are both on the route, so people can shop for their spring plants while visiting.