To an artist, a studio is a place where work is done. Tasks are accomplished; progress is made. To onlookers, non-artists glimpsing into this creative workspace, an artist's studio is a place of wonder and awe.
Color and light are everywhere. Inspiration hangs like a to-do list. What artists consider utilitarian, regular folks find beautiful. It's why they enjoy peering into artists' workstations but don't necessarily jump at the chance to visit an accountant's office.
"It's unusual, especially for people who are not artists, to get to see the process behind the artwork," said Kelsey Karper, associate director of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. "For most people, they only see the finished product hanging in a gallery or museum."
This weekend, OVAC, for the eighth year, is hosting the Tulsa Art Studio Tour, which invites the public to visit nine local artists' workspaces via a self-guided tour.
Last year, more than 250 people attended the two-day event.
On Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10, from noon to 5pm., those with a passport, which includes a map to the artists' studios and is $5 in advance and $10 the day of the event, may visit the following artists, who work in the listed media, respectively: Michael Benton, wood; Kim Doner, illustration; Alan Frakes, painting; Mark Hawley, furniture; George Kountoupis, painting; Steven Rosser, painting/printmaking; Christine Sharp-Crowe, printmaking; Celeste Vaught, painting; and May Yang, printmaking.
"Artists are often working in their studios by themselves, and this is a great opportunity for the public to meet the artists in their city and see what they do and how they do it," Karper said.
The studio tour is meant to give visitors more than just a behind-the-scenes look at how art is made, Karper said.
"They also get to meet the artist and ask questions," she said. "I think many attendees are artists themselves and enjoy comparing notes with other artists and seeing how they set up their creative space."
As an artist, Yang said she enjoys visiting other artists' studios.
"I think there's a huge nerd factor for me -- being able to see what supplies someone uses, talking about different techniques, etc.," she said. "I think the other part is genuine curiosity and wanting to understand more about an artist's work."
A few of the local artists whose studios are on the map offered readers a sneak preview of what they might find on the tour:
All the different colors and textures of wood from the straight-grain sapele to the wild grain of burls, each piece is completely different from the one before, just like fingerprints.
Source of inspiration: All kinds of things inspire me, from things I see on the street to what I find in books to old clocks. There really isn't anything in particular that inspires me -- there's just so much everywhere.
My studio, described: My studio is located in the back of our gallery, The Gallery on Sixth. It's approximately 1,500 square feet, and it's my hideaway, a place where I go to unwind from my day job. I have all my tools and music and refreshments, and it's a great place to go to. It's always open for anyone who wants to come by for a visit.
I can't work without: A comfortable atmosphere, good music and lots of projects. I love visitors, good coffee in the morning, tea at noon and a little wine in the evening. I have the Internet so I can research projects and ideas and work on my website as well.
Printmaker May Yang has been working on her basement studio since she was in college and filled
it with castaway furniture, and found and scrounged equipment. Yang’s workspace is one of nine included
in Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Tulsa Art Studio Tour, which gives visitors behind-the-scenes access on
Saturday and Sunday.
The majority of my work is grounded in printmaking, but it tends to incorporate other media as well.
Source of inspiration: So many things inspire me in day-to-day life, but I think one of the things that affects me the most is color. Color really fascinates me, especially as it pertains to mood. I think there's a lot to be explored there.
My studio, described: My studio is in the basement of my family's home and has been a work in progress since I was in college. The exposure unit I've been using was built by an engineer friend, and the drying rack and flat files were all Craigslist finds. The majority of the tables and workspaces have been castaways -- old restaurant worktables from my parents and desks that my friends didn't want to move.
I can't work without: Besides all the basic supplies, I think the most essential thing in my workspace is my stereo. I always work to music; it just gets me psyched to work.
I mostly work with acrylics or pastels.
Source of inspiration: Color and light are my biggest sources of inspiration; thus, wherever I am I notice the colors of the light and think of how best to capture that and reveal it in the shapes and colors within shadows.
My studio, described: We converted our seldom-used formal dining room in our mid-century ranch into my studio space and ripped out the carpet to reveal the. Installing track lighting helped to illuminate the workspace and makes for a nicely lit display area for my paintings.
I can't work without: Organization -- tools ready at my fingertips, since the space is somewhat small -- and light. Plenty of light.
I am an illustrator and a chameleon; I am drawn to problem-solving challenges as far as jobs. I work in anything and everything that can be reproduced for the commercial side of what I do and work in whatever comes my way for fine arts, which is usually pencil, colored pencil, markers, watercolors and acrylics.
Source of inspiration: I am most inspired by deadlines. That really lights a fire under me, and I should probably go on some kind of medication when one is looming. But I don't.
My studio, described: My studio used to be the formal living room in our house. Since "formal" is a very foreign word around here, no one used the room. No one but the dogs, that is. They really liked the cute little sofas that were in the room and considered those pieces of furniture as their own. So I stole the room from them and have turned it into my studio. The dogs have gone on to doggie heaven, but my studio stands.
I can't work without: I need decent lighting, which is a problem on gloomy days, and several places for the cat to park her bottom so she doesn't have to be in my lap the whole time. I need tons of tabletop space, and all my tools and to be left alone. I can hardly work when my husband is home.
Tulsa Art Studio passports are available at tulsaartstudiotour.org; The Gadget Co., 104 E. 15th St.; Dwelling Spaces, 119 S. Detroit Ave.; and Lovetts Gallery, 6528 E. 51st St.
Visitors who get their passports stamped at all nine studios during the tour dates will be registered to win a prize.
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