Culture » Visual Arts

Front Range Open Studios Tour marks seventh year this weekend

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JODIE BLISS
  • Jodie Bliss
‘Studios are usually sanctuaries of creativity,” says Nancy Bonig, a Monument- based glass artist. “With everything else going on in the world — whether it’s politics or hurricanes or whatever else — when an artist walks into their studio, that’s their special place and usually they aren’t willing to share it.”

She says this is part of what draws people to the Front Range Open Studios Tour Weekend every year, though the value to the public extends beyond seeing an artist’s secret lair.

This weekend marks Front Range Open Studios’ seventh tour, a tradition that has more than doubled in size since its inception. Beginning in 2011 with eight professional artists opening their studios to the public and offering demonstrations, the tour now boasts 21 artists at 16 locations, each of them with their own specialty and style to share.

Bonig says that, when she decided to create this tour, her “focus and intention [was] to show the public how art was made.” Rather than just seeing artists talk about their finished work, attendees could “actually see the working studios, the tools and the techniques, and watch demonstrations.”

Above all, the purpose is educational. While many people enjoy art and happily consume art, few know the intricate processes that go into, say, Richard Pankratz’s bronze sculptures, and this gives them the opportunity to see the process from the original clay model to the finished patina statue.

But what sets the Front Range Open Studios tour apart from other open studio tours isn’t only in the demonstrations, but in the participation.

“Artists hear the public say all the time: ‘Oh I can do that,’” says Bonig, “and this is our chance to say, ‘Okay, do you want to try?’”

Among the activities available: Terre Christensen will demonstrate the raku pottery technique and give participants an opportunity to glaze their own pottery; Bonig will show the step-by-step process of creating her dichroic glass artworks, while allowing attendees to make their own glass; Claudia Dimidik will teach folks the practice of alcohol ink; and Mattie O. will be helping participants make handmade paper. All this in between blacksmithing demonstrations by Jodie Bliss, wood turning by Dennis Ligget, fiber felting with Barb Ziek and plenty more.

Bonig says that, while this event is open to anyone and everyone, it is especially popular with teachers, as it gives their students a chance to see the kind of art they may not learn about in school.

“Our system will make sure that we have plenty of lawyers and doctors and dentists and computer people,” Bonig says, “but it may not make sure we will have enough artists, and that’s what really lasts over centuries of culture and community — the art.”

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