BY CAIRRIL MILLS
Once a year, local visual artists throw open their doors and host the Bloomington Open Studios Tour. The free, two-day curated show gives the public an opportunity to talk to the artists, see their creative environment and tools, and view art in context.
“Often a perception on the part of the audience is that a museum or gallery is just for the already educated, the already art-sophisticated,” says Michal Ann Carley, an Open Studios Tour steering committee member. “They feel silly asking questions [about the work] or why it was made. They perhaps don’t understand it because it’s non-representational. That can be intimidating.”
But informally meeting with the artist at home is more conducive to asking questions. Carley says visitors usually begin by asking about the tools artists use and progress until they’re comfortable asking about the artists’ deeper motivations when creating their works.
The weekend tour, starting Saturday, June 4, features 37 artists plus a special art-creation space at the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation building, 105 S. Rogers St. Artists’ media range from painting to furniture making to blacksmithing to glasswork.
Visitors will receive a 42-page booklet with information including artist statements, work samples, studio maps, handicapped-accessible locations, and restroom locations. Carley says people usually take in four to 20 studios over the course of the weekend. Last year more than 900 people participated.
Those taking the tour often do more than view artwork. “When possible, we allow visitors to participate in some manner,” Carley explains. “A printmaker may already have cuts made and even young children can apply ink and run it through a press. So they actually participate in the physical process.”
To be included in the tour, artists submit work samples and photos of their studios to an eight-person jury. Their work must be original and unique, and they must be professional artists.
Hours for the Open Studios Tour are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. on June 4 and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. on June 5. Visit bloomingtonopenstudiostour.com to download a booklet and an app that includes interactive maps. Booklets can also be picked up at the Bloomington Visitors Center, 2855 N. Walnut.