Artists invite public to visit their studios

       Artists on the Westside? Where?
       Normally busy in their studios, out of the public eye, several local specialists in a wide variety of creative endeavors want you to see where they do their stuff the weekend of Nov. 13-14 at the second annual Artists' Studio Tour and Sale.
       Nine locations are on the tour, including five on the Westside. The other four are downtown and in Manitou Springs. Seventeen artists in all are represented, 10 of them Westsiders.
       There is no charge to attend, and each studio will hold a drawing for a free work of art. Signs will help direct people to the different sites. Times will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 13 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the 14th.
       “It makes people aware of what's in their own backyard,” said Karen Pierce, a weaving artist who is helping organize this year's event. “People think they have to go to New York, Chicago or the West Coast to find fine art. They don't realize there's high- quality work right here.”
       Tour-goers will see a broad cross-section of materials being used - thread, metal, wood, clay, jewels, recycled material, paper and various types of paint. “The idea for the tour was to get different types of media, a good mix, so people could see different aspects of art,” Pierce said.
       The artists range from well-known to little known, from those who rent studios to those who have them in their houses, from those who do nothing but art to those who do it in addition to full-time jobs, from those with masters degrees to those who learned by doing. Most of the artists display their work in galleries or in local or regional shows. Some have had their creations purchased for the walls of banks and corporations.
       One thing the Artists' Studio Tour and Sale participants have in common is being friends. Pierce described them as a “loose-knit group of artists” who have gotten to know one another from sales and shows and (most frequently) openings at places like the Fine Arts Center, the Business of Arts Center, UCCS and Commonwheel.
       Pierce and Marc Jenesel together comprise Willow Bend Studios, which is in their home at 514 N. 17th St. Jenesel creates ceramic vessels (often in unusual shapes to give Pierce a challenge), and she weaves onto them for a unique end product.
       For Jenesel, who has worked as a full-time graphics artist in the defense industry for many years, “it's nice to come home from the office and play in the mud. It's the only thing that keeps me sane in the computerized world.”
       Another of the organizers, Deb Komitor, uses an unusual combination - oil painting on clay - to give a genuine three- dimensionality to her colorful paintings. “Your fingers get to to play with the clay, and then you get to color it all in,” summarized the artist, who started out as a traditional type of painter-on-canvas but evolved after studying with a ceramics specialist..
       Komitor, whose home and studio are in the Pioneer Park area at 741 Panorama Drive, helped start the tour last year. Having moved to the Westside from Ohio eight years ago, she came to appreciate the “tight artists' community here” and thought that a studio tour, such as ones she'd seen in other cities, would be a good way to let the public in on what was happening. She talked about the plan with Westside artist Laura Reilly - who's also on this year's tour - and “we each called an artist.”
       More artists got involved in this year's planning, combining to produce a full-color advance brochure that lists tour locations, artists' names, bios and photos of each of their works.
       “There's a stereotype that artists are wishy-washy and not business-oriented,” Komitor said. “But we did all this, and we're proud of that.” At the same time, there was a conscious effort not to get too big. “Boulder has a huge tour,” she said. “We wanted to keep this small.”
       Two other Westsiders on the tour are Christen Weathers, who has developed her own style of paper art; and Caron O'Neil, who fashions diverse creations out of beads and recycled miscellaney.
       They'll be showing together at Weathers' studio at 310 Bear Creek Road. While their media is different, the two neighbors both use found objects - such as twigs or old house shingles - in their creations, which sometimes leads them to vie good-naturedly for the same odd item in the nearby, forested park land. O'Neil has the best opportunity for coming upon such pieces - some she's used are a bedspring, a deer spine and a street sweeper brush - having worked as a city park ranger for 25 years.
       She's looking forward to the Art Studio Tour as an opportunity to connect with current and possibly future customers. “When you meet the people who buy your work, it's pretty exciting,” she said. She thinks tour-goers will also enjoy the experience. “Seeing studios where artists work, people get a perspective of the whole process,” she said.
       A former elementary art teacher (now retired), Weathers believes the tour provides an outlet for people who “want to see things that are made by hand and not mass-produced.”
       The various artists plan to make the visits as pleasant as possible for their guests. They will have their works on display and refreshments set out, and they'll be ready and willing to show off their studios and explain how they create their art.
       “I'd like to go on the tour myself,” Jenesel commented.

Westside Pioneer Article