19th Annual Tour of Artists Bigger, Better, More Fun

Significant increase in participating studios, galleries, artists

Artist Guild pic 6

Streaming Along (ink) by Beth Massey.

By Jeanne E. Fredriksen

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What better way to spend a late summer weekend than to celebrate the talents of local artists during the 19th Annual Tour of Artists on September 6 and 7. Sponsored by the Wake Forest Guild of Artists, the Tour has seen a revitalization and upward growth, making it a must-attend event.

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This year will be no exception as the two-day event boasts a 158 percent increase in the number of participating artists and a 60 percent increase in the number of sites. Last year, the tour went back to its roots and embraced remote studios, and this year there will be nine remote studios, an impressive 200 percent increase.

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“We are really excited about the number of artists participating this year,” Wake Forest Guild of Artists President Beth Massey said. “There is just so much incredible talent. We will have something of interest for everyone.”

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The annual event continues to draw art lovers from all around the Triangle and beyond, making Wake Forest a hot destination that weekend. A map of galleries and studios will be available online at wakeforestguild.com, and a handy, easy-to-use brochure will also be available at all participating locations.

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The brochure will contain tour details, including the map plus a list of downtown dining establishments that will be open during the tour. Some restaurants will extend a 10 percent discount to customers showing the tour brochure.

The first studio tour was held in the mid-1990s, when a group of artists in Wake Forest wanted to give back to the community. Maureen Seltzer, a long-time Wake Forest artist and the mastermind behind the new Artists’ Loft in downtown Wake Forest, had been on the board of the cultural arts organization (now Wake Forest Arts!) and later on the board of the artists’ association (now Wake Forest Guild of Artists) when it became its own entity.

“The studio tour was originally promoted as an educational event,” she explained. “The artists would open their home studios so people could see artists in their working environments. Artists want to educate the public about what they do, and this has been an excellent opportunity to achieve that goal.”

That was back when studios and galleries were few in old downtown Wake Forest, though artists were plentiful in the area. Eventually, more galleries moved downtown, and many artists preferred to piggy-back with other artists there rather than open up their homes and studios.

Over the years, the tour has had its ups and downs, decline and expansion and, when the artists’ guild spun off into its own organization, the Wake Forest Guild of Artists acquired not only the tour but also a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. In the succeeding years, they have streamlined the event by holding it on one weekend rather than on two consecutive weekends, tightening up the tour’s organization, and putting a fresh, new face on it. The result has been good for artists, visitors, and downtown merchants alike.

The tour, which has become a showcase and marketing opportunity for artists, continues to be an educational event. Artists will demonstrate various media and techniques throughout the two-day event, and it was no secret that the demos during last year’s tour were a highlight for young and old.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children to experience art being created and, in at least one case, engage in a hands-on opportunity. The schedule of demonstrations (specific times, places, media and artists) will be available during the tour at all participating locations.

As a way of saying thank you to those attending the tour, the Guild will hold a drawing for a basket of “art related goodies,” such as note cards, prints, special offers, art materials, etc. Entry slips for the drawing will be placed in all participating locations, and the basket will be displayed at Storyteller’s Bookstore at 158 South White Street.

The event is free to the public. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Galleries and studios in locations in and around town will be open both days.

“What a great way to spend a weekend!” Massey said. “Wandering Historic Wake Forest, interacting with the artists, seeing them at work and, in some cases, getting to try art for yourself … Come on out and enjoy the Tour of Artists!”