One of the favorite events of many in the Northern Virginia art community
is the Great Falls Studio Tour, which will be held Oct. 14-16, featuring 59 artists representing a wide variety of artistic genres including oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel and mixed media.
The artists also have a wide range of artistic styles—from classical realism to contemporary and abstract.
“The emphasis of the Studio Tour is on education and demonstrating our creative process and the inspiration behind what we do,” says Linda Jones, president of Great Falls Studios. “It is fun for both artist and visitor, providing valuable feedback for the artist, and providing an understanding of the artistic mind, techniques and process. Our art is also on sale.”
Great Falls Studios was founded in May 2003 by a handful of artists wishing to establish a network of artists in Great Falls with the idea of creating an artistic community working with other community organizations. Since then, its membership has grown to approximately 120.
Unlike conventional brick and mortar galleries, the artists work in their own studios throughout the community, and during the event, they are opened to the public.
“Many visitors plan their own itinerary over the three day weekend, choosing particular artists, genres, or an area of Great Falls to explore,” Jones says. “Some combine their tour with a visit to Great Falls Park or River Bend Park with the fall foliage.”
Jones, a painter specializing in watercolor, acrylic and mixed media, will be demonstrating the different approaches and techniques between her watercolor and mixed media work.
“I will have paintings representing each at various stages of completion, and visitors can look over my shoulder to see how these paintings develop during the weekend,” she says. “I love sharing what I do with everyone, explaining my choice of subject, materials, color palette, brushwork etc.”
Since Jones has a large studio, she has invited other artists who are unable to display their work in their own creative spaces to join her. This year that includes jeweler Richard Masaniello, weaver Vad Moskowitz, and photographer Jim Diedrich.
Dorry Emmer, a board member who will be manning the Great Falls Library Studio Tour headquarters all weekend, will also have her quilt work and photography on display.
“It will be my pleasure to talk about the wide variety of artists people could meet on the tour and to give them suggestions of whom to visit based on their interests and time availability,” she says. “The October exhibit at the library features the art of participating Tour artists, providing a quick snapshot of the spectrum of art you can expect to encounter.”
Leslie Anthony, a painter who specializes in animal images, will have her menagerie—horses, hounds, roosters, cows and maybe a sheep—surrounding her on the walls of her studio.
“Artists have a tendency to hide away in their studios diligently doing what they love best. It is important to present our work to the public, to be appreciated, and communicate what we do, so art lovers might understand what we are about,” she says. “There is so much talent abounding in the area with so many artists involved in the tour. It is great fun and so worth the time to travel to the studios and speak with the artists as they are creating new treasures.”
Anthony’s favorite part of the tour is talking to everyone who stops by to watch her paint.
“Input is welcome and savored. Some of my best mistakes have been made while painting during the tour and my attention is diverted by great conversation,” she says. “I have been painting my whole adult life. Thankfully, after struggling to step through the threshold of realism, I now happily work with a more flamboyant style, very colorful with mostly transparent oils (still animals).”
Photographer Robin Kent will once again be displaying photographic images captured in some of the more remote locations of the world.
“I will be showing images of the landscape and wildlife of the Arctic Circle, including the west coast of Greenland, the Northwest Passage, the Arctic Archipelago and the Northern Canadian Territories,” she says. “Very few people have been to these locations, and I hope to provide visitors a glimpse into this wild and fascinating place.”
In her mind, the Studio Tour is a unique event that allows the artists to invite the community into their studios and talk about their craft, their techniques, what excites them as artists and why.
“Unlike a museum, gallery exhibit, or online website, visitors can talk directly with the work’s creator, examine the artist’s tools, and maybe even see actual works in various stages of the artistic process,” she says.
Laura Nichols, the Studio’s founding artist, a potter, and a long-term former president, will open up her Pig Pen Pottery gallery so visitors can see a working pottery studio.
“They will see the wheel throwing area, the slab building area, three kilns and the glaze room. I will be either throwing on the wheel or demonstrating hand building and assembly techniques, or discussing some part of the various processes that are involved in transforming clay into functional and decorative stoneware pieces,” she says. “The Studio Tour is important to me because I can share my love for and deep knowledge of clay and all the wondrous things one can do with it.”
Lori Goll, a pastel artist who works in one of four communal studio spaces in town, will be opening up hers—Art Happens Here, on Walker Road.
“I am a nature painter and work primarily with the magical medium of soft pastels. I will be exhibiting my latest seascapes and beach scenes, a few landscapes, and several bird and animal paintings,” she says. “Peacocks are a favorite subject of mine, and I plan to have a grouping of bird paintings.”
The Studio Tour is sponsored by Sun Design Remodeling Specialists, Inc., and for the first time is joined by Broadway Gallery, the framing specialists whose store on Seneca Road will be open during the tour.
The event runs each day from 10am to 5pm. For more information and a complete list of artists, visit www.greatfallsstudios.com.
AUTHOR: Keith Loria is a freelance writer who writes regularly about sports, business, entertainment, and the arts. When he’s not writing, the Oakton work-at-home dad can be found playing with his daughters Jordan and Cassidy.