It’s not an art show. It’s not about selling work. It’s an education.
The 12th annual Brant Studio Tour kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 29, and runs until Sunday, Sept. 30, offering residents a peek into the world of artists from across the city and county.
“It’s not an art show where you wonder how they did that, you get to see how they did that,” said tour artist Aliki Mikulich.
The tour features the studios of 17 different local artists – the largest tour yet – and a variety of different mediums.
Tour through the studios of artists who dabble in the more traditional forms like oil and acrylic paintings, watch a hand-pulled printmaker create his woodcuttings and etchings, see how artists turn mixed-media and recycled objects into a work of art, watch a woodcarver carefully create one of his sculptures or view the process of a stained glass and mosaics artist.
“You’re going to see a behind-the-scenes look at the artists spaces, the artists’ world,” said Paris-based tour artist Holly.O. “You’re going to have the opportunity to be a fly on the wall where artists produce their works, talk to the artists, see what material the artists use.
“There is a mystery about art and the making of art and people want to unravel that mystery. Once they see where you do what you do, it takes some of that elitism away from it. It makes (art) accessible.”
The studio spaces, which range in size from a large, open-concept barn to a small kitchen space, are open for visitors to explore. The artists are on hand to answer questions and engage in discussions about their work.
“People love to find out the story behind the piece of work,” said artist Ralph Heather, who joined the tour last year after attending as a visitor. “It’s so much fun to talk to the artist. And it’s absolutely a two-way thing. It’s not just the artist talking, it’s so much fun to hear what people have to say about what you do.”
Tour artists span a spectrum of experience, from acrylic-on-panel artist Aaron Robbins, who has exhibited internationally, and old metal sculptor Dave Hind, whose pieces can be seen across Ontario, to artists like Jim Lashbrook, who, though he’s been wood carving for many years, will present his work for the first time during the tour.
Robbins, along with stained glass and mosaic artist Frank Parparcen, is new to the tour this year. Both are also relatively new to Brantford and saw the tour as a great way to meet like-minded artists while getting their names and work into the community.
“Firstly, I joined to be known by the community and basically to belong,” said Parparcen, who originally hails from Venezuela. “I have three years here in Brantford, but this is my first time in the studio tour and I feel differently now and the tour hasn’t even happened yet. I feel like I belong in this group and that’s good for me.”
For Heather, his participation in last year’s tour opened many doors for him as an artist.
“It puts me into the community and my name is
recognized now,” he said. “As an artist, my name has really been growing locally and outside of the local circle, as well.”
Studio tour artists are offering a taste of the tour in advance with the Brant Studio Tour exhibit One Foot Square, running throughout the month of September at Blue Dog Coffee Roasters on Brant Avenue.
Each artist has presented a new 12-inch by 12-inch piece, created to promote the show.
“It’s an appetizer,” said tour artist Kim DiFrancesco. “For someone who has never been on the tour before, it’s a great idea to come here and get a cup of coffee and you can pick and choose which studios you want to go to.”
Studio Tour maps and information are available at www.brantstudiotour.ca or by visiting Blue Dog Coffee Roasters, Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant or the Brantford Visitor and Tourism Centre to pick up a brochure.