Tour: Friday, October 21 through Sunday, October 23 from 10am to 5pm
Art Enthusiast Interests Surge Post Covid Isolation
With the 19th annual Great Falls Studios Tour on the horizon, the “number of artists joining the membership organization has increased dramatically”, says GFS President Linda Jones. Several of new member artists will be showing art in their studios on the Tour for the first time this year.
Interest in attending and participating in annual art events has surged as the CDC has rescinded COVID restrictions on group activities. Artists around the DMV have noticed the public’s increasing desire to be around artwork, which they attribute to a yearning for new visual stimulation after feeling cooped up for so long. People are hungry for emotional (and physical) escape, inspiration and, sometimes, decorating ideas.
Every October for the past eighteen years, artists and artisans living along the winding country roads of Great Falls, Virginia have opened their studio doors to the public. Visitors meet potters, printmakers, painters, jewelry makers, photographers, and sculptors, all working away in their own creative habitats. The Tour offers an opportunity to enjoy the work of 34 artists in 24 widely varied artist studio settings; ranging from repurposed milk and orchard houses on a centuries-old farm to a newly built contemporary loft set near a mid-century home.
New member artist Pamela Arent’s studio sits near a spring fed pond that features great blue herons regularly fishing for lunch. Pamela uses a variety of mediums to create colorful works that play with patterns, layers, fluidity and form. Her pieces on paper combine ink, watercolor and drawn lines in deliberate and delicate washes which many find reminiscent of maps.
Another new artist on the Tour is Jenn Griffith describes her 1974 house as looking “like a cross between a Pizza Hut and a lunar landing base.” But she says that the beautiful, stained-glass domed foyer with two large studios on either side sold them on the house when they bought it a year ago. Jenn and her husband are both creative types, who love having one studio for her eclectic art (which includes painting, mosaic table making, fiber art and Ukranian psanky egg dying) and another for her musician husband.
Lead sponsors of the Studio Tour this year are TD Bank Great Falls, Brightview Assisted Living Facility in Great Falls — which will be doubling as a tour stop with artists displaying their art — and Moss Building and Design. Moss helped Parinaz Bahadori, an architect-turned-artist, rebuild her farm-house style home and turn a horse barn into a working studio with a large gallery area. Parinaz, who has been on the Tour for several years, will be exhibiting her mixed media paintings and demonstrating her collage technique at 4pm each day.
The primary purpose of Studio Tour is educational. While artists will have work available for sale, the organization’s main objective is to provide a wide array of family-friendly demonstrations and hands-on experiences over the course of the 3-day event. New member Sandi Buffie will be demonstrating metal-working and jewelry designs; Begonia Morton will teach a painting-with-wine technique; Jennifer Duncan will show how to create an accordion sketchbook; Cindy Grisdela will give live quilting demonstrations; Dorry Emmer will be leading daily garden tours; Robin Smith will help guests try their hand at throwing pottery on a wheel; Will Tuthill will offer hand-pulled printmaking demos on his antique press; and other artists will demonstrate their widely varying painting styles.
A visit to Jan Heginbotham’s recently custom-built studio will feature oil and gouache paintings, as well as bronze and plaster sculptures. Jan, who has worked as a classically trained, award-winning sculptor for 30+ years, expanded her repertoire to include painting 8 years ago. Her work straddles the line between realism and abstraction.
Always a highlight on the GF Studios Tour is Hidden Springs Farm. Owner Laura Nichols — a well-known local potter and founder of the organization — will be working on her wheel and conducting several different types of “firings,” including: raku, saggar, obvara, and naked raku. On Saturday afternoon, Great Falls Studios member Jody Grossman will be at the Farm conducting an Indigo dyeing, allowing visitors to participate with their own fabric, and Nichol’s daughter Jenny will be demonstrating her use of ink and stamps to create prints, cards and textile pieces.
Three working multi-artist studio spaces near the center of Great Falls village will be overflowing with new work and activities. The Artists’ Atelier, which has been a fixture in town for eight years, houses 9 artists. The art of several other artists will be on exhibit at Artists on the Green and the Artists’ Loft, also on the Village Green.
A piece of art from each participating artist will be displayed at the Great Falls Community Library, where an “advance” peak at the work of each Tour artist will be available the whole month of October. For a full-day Great Falls village experience, visit one of the many fantastic local restaurants or pubs for lunch and dinner.
Visit the Great Falls Studios website at www.GreatFallsStudios.com to plan your art route. The site has a new section with images and descriptions of work by all of the artists on the tour. A downloadable map and brochure will be available online as we get close to the Tour weekend, or just pick up a brochure at the Great Falls Community Library or at any stop along the tour.
If you share the wide-spread urge to escape from your hum-drum, come enjoy quiet autumnal beauty while visiting with the talented and creative artists of the Great Falls, Virginia area on a self-driving tour.