By Colin Flanders
The Essex Reporter
As Vermonters rejoice over spring’s arrival (finally!), a number of the area’s most talented artists are busy preparing for the annual Spring Open Studio Weekend, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The statewide celebration grants visitors behind-the-scenes access to 213 art studios, galleries and exhibits by way of a self-guided tour across the state, according to Martha Fitch, executive director of the Vermont Crafts Council, a nonprofit organization serving the visual arts community.
“I would encourage all to leave the lawn and garden and get out there, because some of these artists only open their workspaces for this time of year,” Fitch said. “It’s a rare opportunity to talk to them about their work.”
Jericho sculptor Chris Cleary echoed the importance of these exchanges, stating his favorite part of the weekend is “the regulars.”
“[They] come every year and notice your changes and upgrades. It inspires you as an artist to see these people that stick with it,” Cleary said.
The weekend also provides a great venue for networking with new clients as well as catching up with old friends, Colchester watercolor painter Ginny Joyner said.
“I teach classes here at the house in the summer, so this is a launching post as far as people signing up for classes. They get to see what the space looks like and see where they’ll be painting,” Joyner said.
And for many artists, such as Essex painter Julie Y. Baker Albright, Open Studio Weekend is the first opportunity of the year to display one’s latest creations.
“Being a still life painter, I’m in my studio alone,” said Albright. “Winter is my biggest period of painting because the light is good and it’s a quiet time of year, so this is new work that people are seeing for the fist time.”
Albright, who is participating in her 17th Open Studio Weekend, shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
“I think I’m just going to continue to do it as long as they provide the venue,” Albright said. “It’s a really good concept because the state is full of people all over the place in beautiful spots.”
While the grand scope of the weekend may seem overwhelming at first, Fitch encouraged potential visitors to head to the Vermont Crafts website, where a map can be found of all participants as well as a list of “Ten Ways to Plan Your Open Studio Tour.”
Cleary has found that visitors will pick a section of the state and explore the entire area, which often turns into an annual event. In fact, Open Studio Weekend inspired him to upgrade his studio and pursue art full time 15 years ago.
“I think that Open Studio is one of the best things the state has to offer as far as art,” Cleary said. “Anybody that doesn’t do it is kind of crazy.”
Spring Open Studio Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, May 23-24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Chris Cleary – 353 Browns Trace Road, Jericho 802-899-6832
Julie Y. Baker Albright – 75 Chapin Road, Essex 802-878-0644
Ginny Joyner – 504 Dalton Drive, Unit B, Colchester 802-655-0899