A dynamic tradition of introducing local artists to their public began 16 years ago when Salem painter Diane Trevett organized the first Salem Area Artists Studio Tour. It provided a unique opportunity for people to visit artists in their homes and studios, discuss art, techniques and inspirations.
As Trevett tells it, “We had a good number of school children come… who were interested in becoming an artist. Some even had an assignment from their art teacher to report on their visit… Only one complaint: There was never enough time to visit all of the studios.”
In those first years, Trevett worked under the auspices of the Artist’s Services Committee of the Salem Arts Association. Participating artists numbered as many as 32, and visitor numbers hovered around 600 per event.
The tours, according to Kathy Lull, organizer of this year’s event, give art lovers, “access to the artist beyond art galleries and art festivals. Visitors can meet the artists, see their studio set up and how their art is made. An artist’s studio is as unique as the artist. It’s an opportunity to view a larger collection of work than what you would typically find in a gallery.”
Lull is a member of Artists in Action, the organization that restarted the tradition in 2007 under the name “VAST,” Visual Artists Studio Tour.
“Teachers, full-time, part-time artists and all types of visual arts are represented. It’s a great opportunity for someone who’s never visited an artists studio,” Lull says, adding, “Artists are always impressed by how respectful the public is, their eagerness to learn and interact and the variety of questions.”
The focus shifts slightly every season, giving each year’s event a slightly different flavor. In 2012 the tour will highlight 11 Silverton artists and the Lunaria Gallery. It will be broken into two weekends in order to allow the public enough time to visit everyone.
First, the weekend of September 15-16 and then the weekend of September 22-23.
“Many of the Silverton artists are located in outlying areas,” Lull says. “To make travel easier, five Silverton artists will be showing in collective spaces at the historic Hartman Building in downtown Silverton.”
Artists in Action has no brick-and-mortar building. It is a nonprofit group of diverse, dedicated artists and artisans, working to create stronger ties with each other and the communities of the Salem area.
Its motto is “Inspire Engage Connect.” More tour information is available at VASTtour.com and maps will be available both online and at The Art Department, Bush Barn Gallery, River Gallery and at artist’s studios.