Artists Open Their Doors

October 19, 2006|By Brooke Nevils | Brooke Nevils,Sun reporter

With Baltimore Free Fall in full swing, the arts are more accessible than ever as museums, theaters and performance groups are opening their doors to the public. This weekend, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and the School 33 Art Center are taking it a step further with their annual Open Studio Tour, in which the artists themselves will be opening their studios.

"It gives people an opportunity to see the artists at work in their own studios," says Randi Vega, cultural affairs director for the city agency. "It's really to highlight the diversity of the artists that live in Baltimore City, and to give collectors and art enthusiasts an opportunity to get around and see what the artists are doing."

It's one of Lania D'Agostino's favorite weekends of the year.

"I've been doing the tour for years now," says the painter and sculptor, who has a studio on Light Street. "I show the paintings and how I do the artwork, so it's not only the finished artwork but also the projects that might not make it into the galleries. It gives me an opportunity to show my work to the general public instead of just the galleries and the people I know."

For painter Jessica Damen, the Open Studio Tour is an opportunity to share her process and ideas with art fans and to meet people.

"I like the tour because I tend to be a bit reclusive when I work," Damen says. "I think people who come to the studio really enjoy it, too, because I'll leave a piece of work that's in progress for people who like to get some kind of sense of what an artist actually does in their studio. And for them, it's thrilling -- it's not the sort of thing they see every day."

With nearly 100 artists participating, the tour is divided into two days: On Saturday, studios south of North Avenue will be open to the public, and on Sunday, the studios north of North Avenue. Vega recommends attending the opening reception to make the tour less intimidating.

"There's certainly a lot to choose from," Vega says. "The reception is the night before, and many of the artists attend. People can come and get to know the artists, what they're working on, and have a better idea of the kind of work they do. It's a great opportunity to get a head start on the tour."

D'Agostino says she'll attend.

"The greatest time is meeting all the other artists," she says.

For Damen, it's the questions from visitors.

"They're really curious," she says. "It has a lot to do with the fact that I'm inviting them into my work, where I think, and people are often surprised to see how fine art really works. I think it's a great exposure for everyone."

The Open Studio Tour Kick-Off Reception is tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Load of Fun Gallery, 120 W. North Ave. The tour takes place Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. A list of participating artists and their locations is on School 33's Web site, Maps are available at School 33's offices at 7 E. Redwood St., fifth floor. For more information, call 410-752-8632.

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