It’s legacy reaching back into the 1990’s, the Prince Edward County Studio Tour is back for its 26th edition this weekend.
In total, the 2019 edition of the PEC Studio Tour will feature 31 Studio Locations with 34 studio artists plus 13 guests from both here and abroad for a total of 47 artists, making it the most expansive to date.
While its operation has been spread over two weekends in past years, this year’s event starts in earnest on Friday with the studios open from 4-7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10-5 p.m. with some studios open until 6 p.m.
Studio Tour co-chair Dale Wainwright said local tour of the most diverse studio tours in Ontario featuring professional juried artists in their studio environment “It’s popular with the County’s artists and the people who attend,” Wainwright told the Gazette. “For the artists, it really gives them a sense of community and it provides an impetus to get to work and start creating new pieces. it forces them to get out there produce something new.”
Art lovers who are either discovering the tour for the first time or are valued returnees year-over-year appreciate the skill and craft on display throughout Prince Edward County and really enjoy the wonderful cross section of media however the critical mass of painters is a big draw according to recent surveys.
“By proportion, this tour far exceeds other tours in the province when it comes to painters-Abstract, landscape, portrait, figurative, artists that work in water colours, mixed media and caustic – it’s very different than what’s out there and that’s a big reason people come back. And then of course we have the wonderful potters, sculptors. wood workers and everything else people really enjoy,” Wainwright said.
Ultimately though, tourists appreciate being able to take a brief glimpse of where their preferred pieces are crafted and being able to converse with the brilliant minds behind the work. Those conversations typically lead to art sales and over $50,000 worth of art was sold during the 2018 PEC Studio Tour.
“Visitors really enjoy meeting the artists – learning about their creative process, seeing a demo, and discovering the inspiration behind their work,” said Wainwright.
A handful of new artists in Prince Edward County making their debut on the 2019 Studio gathered at the creative space of Wellington-based painter Laurie McRae on Tuesday.
Sculptor Tom Ashbourne, a two-time winner at the annual Art in the County event, said he participated in past years by taking the tour. Now his gallery on Loyalist Parkway just west of Wellington is one of nearly three dozen stops in 2019.
“I used to go on the tour and now I’m part of it and I’m very excited,” Ashbourne said. “People love to see the actual studio space and the it comes to stone sculpting, people are fascinated by the process- some times are really more excited to see the process and the works in progress than the finished pieces themselves.”
Vicki Alayne Bradley, a tapestry weaver and Elaine Kent, a watercolourist, are both opening their respective studio spaces in Ameilasburgh this weekend.
For Kent, it’s the look on people’s faces when they enter here creative space that she enjoys.
“Seeing the facial expression when people see your work for the first time is really special,” Kent said. “They really want to see where the creative process happens.”
Bradley said she was looking forward to connecting with people who would appreciate her handmade trappings.
“Getting that instant feed back really helps as an artist because you can sell pieces in a gallery but you never get to meet the person and understand what they like and why they are interested in your work in the first place,” Bradley added.
Artist profiles and locations available at www.pecstudiotour.com or those interested in taking part in this free tour pick up a brochure at over 130 locations throughout the County “For the first time this year several of the studios are providing a picnic area for visitors to use and enjoy as they travel their chosen route. In previous years visitors have told us it was difficult to find a lunch spot without a long lineup due to the crowds. The brochure and website indicate which locations are participating,” the co-chair noted.
This year’s event also features a pre-tour kick off Party tonight in the Pavilion at the Drake Devonshire. Everyone is welcome to attend and chat with the artists.
“It’s kind of a ‘sigh of relief’ event. All the organization and preparing is over and now it’s time to enjoy the Studio Tour weekend,” Wainwright said.