Visiting an artist’s studio in Great Falls offers something for everyone

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With the 19th annual Great Falls Studio Tour on the horizon, the “number of artists joining the membership organization has increased dramatically,” said organization president Linda Jones.

The tour will take place from October 21-23, with several new member artists showing art in their studios on the tour for the first time this year.

Interest in attending and participating in annual arts events has grown as the CDC rolled back COVID restrictions on group activities. Local artists have noticed the public’s growing desire to be surrounded by artwork, which they attribute to a desire for new visual stimulation after feeling locked in for so long.

People crave emotional (and physical) escape, inspiration and, sometimes, decorating ideas, studio tour organizers said.

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Every October for 18 years, artists and artisans living along the winding country roads of Great Falls have opened their studio doors to the public. Visitors meet potters, engravers, painters, jewelry makers, photographers and sculptors, all working in their own creative habitats. The 2022 tour offers the opportunity to appreciate the work of 34 artists in 24 diverse artist studios, ranging from repurposed dairies and orchards in a century-old farmhouse to a newly built contemporary loft located near a middle house of the century.

New member Pamela Arent’s studio sits near a spring-fed pond where great blue herons regularly fish for lunch. Pamela uses a variety of mediums to create colorful works that play with patterns, layers, fluidity and form. His pieces on paper combine ink, watercolor and lines drawn in deliberate and delicate washes, many of which are reminiscent of maps.

Another new performer on the tour is Jenn Griffith, who describes her 1974 home as “a cross between a Pizza Hut and a moon landing base.” But she says the stunning domed entrance hall of stained glass windows with two large studios on either side sold them on the house when they bought it a year ago. Both Jenn and her husband are creative types, who love having a studio for her eclectic art (which includes painting, mosaic table making, fiber art, and Ukrainian psanky egg dying) and another for her musician husband.

The main sponsors of the Studio Tour this year are TD Bank Great Falls, Brightview Assisted Living Facility in Great Falls – which will also serve as a tour stop with artists displaying their art – and Moss Building and Design. Moss helped Parinaz Bahadori, an architect-turned-artist, rebuild her farmhouse-style home and turn a stable into a working studio with a large gallery. Parinaz, who has been on tour for several years, will exhibit his mixed media paintings and demonstrate his collage technique at 4 p.m. each day.

The main purpose of the studio visit is educational. While artists will have works available for sale, the main focus of the organization is to provide a wide range of family demonstrations and hands-on experiences during the day-long event.

New member Sandi Buffie will demonstrate metalwork and jewelry designs; Begonia Morton will teach a technique of painting with wine; Jennifer Duncan will show how to create an accordion sketchbook; Cindy Grisdela will give live quilting demonstrations; Dorry Emmer will lead daily garden tours; Robin Smith will help guests try their hand at throwing pottery on a wheel; Will Tuthill will offer demonstrations of hand engraving 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 include oil and gouache paintings, as well as bronze and plaster sculptures.

Heginbotham, who worked as an award-winning classically trained sculptor for over 30 years, expanded his repertoire to include painting eight years ago. His work oscillates between realism and abstraction.

Hidden Springs Farm is always a highlight of the visit. Owner Laura Nichols – a well-known local potter and founder of Great Falls Studios – will work on her wheel and perform several types of ‘firings’ including raku, saggar, obvara and naked raku.

On the Saturday afternoon of the tour, Great Falls Studios member Jody Grossman will be on the farm to perform indigo dyeing, allowing visitors to participate with their own fabric, and Nichols’ daughter, Jenny, will demonstrate his use of ink and stamps to create prints. , cards and textile pieces.

Three working multi-artist studios near the center of Great Falls Village will be brimming with new work and activity. L’Atelier des Artistes, established in the city for eight years, houses nine artists. The art of several other artists will be on display at Artists on the Green and Artists’ Loft, also on the Village Green.

One piece of artwork from each participating artist will be on display at the Great Falls Community Library, where a “prior” pic of each touring artist’s work will be available throughout October.

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For more information, visit the website at www.greatfallsstudios.com.

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