Studio Tour Benefits Artists, Galleries Alike

Article excerpt

Each fall, thousands of collectors visit four Wisconsin towns to see artists in action

People collect art for a variety of reasons, one of which is to capture a piece of the artistic process. A group of artists and galleries in central Wisconsin has been successfully tapping into the art-buying public's interest in the act of creating art by holding an annual tour of studios. The Fall Art Tour, which has been held each October for eight years, invites visitors into the studios of local artists to catch a glimpse of how they work.

"People are very curious to see how artists live and how they think," said Sue John, artist and owner of Studio on High in Mineral Point, Wisc. "A lot of times they want to catch that little moment of creation. What I love is that the process is what's focused on and that's a wonderful way of sharing art."

The tour takes place in and around the artistic and scenic Wisconsin communities of Baraboo, Mineral Point, Dodgeville and Spring Green. Three local galleries serve as tour headquarters where they hand out maps and information and field visitors' questions. Tour participants use the maps to navigate from studio to studio during the three-day event. There's no admission fee and art lovers are free to explore at their own pace--they can linger for hours in one studio and skip others altogether, depending on their tastes. The artists are on hand demonstrating their particular talent--painting, sculpting, pottery jewelry making and weaving--answering questions about their art and selling finished pieces.

Fiber artist and tour organizer Char terBeest-Kudla estimated that 5,000 people participated in the event last year. The event draws collectors from the nearby metropolitan areas of Madison, Minnesota/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Des Moines and Chicago with a few visitors hailing from as far away as New York, Washington, California and Hawaii.

"Some people come strictly to look. Some are artists or would-be artists and would love to be able to do the same thing," said John.

Tour goers "are having fun, they're doing a little shopping--some are doing a lot of shopping," said terBeest-Kudla. "If you live in Chicago or New York, it's really great to get out into the countryside and just enjoy the view. It makes people curious about what's happening in the Midwest."

When the tour began in 1992, 25 artists participated, and it has since grown to include almost twice that number in recent years. …