By Laurie Paolicelli
Now in its 27th year, the 2021 Orange County Artist’s Guild Studio Tour is back and will take place the first two weekends in November – the 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th. For many Orange County artists this event is the highlight of their year, with the opportunity to meet art-lovers across the Triangle and beyond, and to share their year’s creative output. The tour is also beloved by many visitors for whom it has become an annual tradition, as well an opportunity to start their holiday shopping – or collecting.
The Studio Tour is the perfect way to understand the heart and spirit of Orange County – and, at the same time, support our artists, create a space for art in your life, and be a part of a community where art and the artists who create it are truly valued.
Orange County includes the well-known towns of Chapel Hill/Carrboro in addition to Hillsborough and smaller pockets such as Cedar Grove, Dogwood Acres, Southern Village and more. But all over it are artists many different stripes, more than you could possibly imagine.
What a great opportunity this is for us all.
Think about it, who would open their private studio space and home to complete strangers and show them an up-close-and-personal look at how their art is made? After a year or more thinking twice before letting our own relatives into our home, inviting strangers to tour your gallery while serving them cider and cookies seems almost outlandish. But vaccination rates in Orange County are high, and the Tour will follow Orange County COVID-19 Safety Protocols to keep all of our guests and artists safe. Face coverings are required for indoor public events.
We spoke to one artist to give us an idea of what the tour looks and feels like. His name is Tom Stevens, and he also happens to be the former mayor of Hillsborough. His insights are a great guidepost on what to expect this year.
How is this studio tour different than stopping in a gallery and purchasing art?
A lot different. The studio tour offers an exciting way to explore and purchase art that is distinct from a visit to a typical gallery in three ways. First, the selection and range of artists and artworks one can see is huge, with more than eighty accomplished artists participating. Second, you actually get to meet and talk with the artist, visit their studios, and get in inside look at how they go about creating their art. Finally, for those acquiring art, you’ll be dealing directly with the artist who will receive all the proceeds – i.e., you can be confident your purchases are directly supporting local arts and artists.
How can we assure visitors and newcomers that visiting a studio, often located in someone’s home, is safe?
You won’t be visiting any strangers. To participate in the studio tour, artists must be members of the Orange County Artists Guild. To become a guild member an artist must have a home or studio in Orange County, and be juried into the organization (i.e., judged by their peers to have achieved an established level of artistic accomplishment).
Tell us something about your art, i.e., theme, price range?
The subject matter of my art – whether painting, drawing, or sculpture – falls into two main categories: landscape and figure. My landscapes are almost always of identifiable places in North Carolina, particularly the Hillsborough area. Even my abstract and floral paintings are based on specific gardens or locations. The figure works include portraits, paintings of local residents, musicians, and a large body of work of classical nudes. During the tour I’ll have a featured exhibit of new works, both landscape and figure, all rendered in charcoal.
Tom Steven’s Gallery is located on King Street in the heart of downtown Hillsborough, with restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, historic sites, other galleries and shops and the Colonial Inn all within a two-block walk. Free public parking is available throughout town.
For a complete guide map, visit: https://www.ocagnc.org
Fall is finally here and the weather is beautiful. Wander through the landscapes of our artist’s minds. Again, it’s the first two weekends in November – the 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th. Orange County COVID-19 Safety Protocols will be followed by all. Face coverings are required for indoor public events. Please refer to artist profiles for safety protocols for each studio.
Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.