One week from today, Cape Ann Artisans will open its doors to the public as part of their Open Studio Tour weekend.
In all, 23 artists are participating — which means that 23 studios will be open for visitors. It is amazing to see the spaces in which the artists do their work. I did the tour last year for the first time, and loved every minute of it.
Think of planning for the tour as going on a treasure hunt. The 23 studios are spread out across Cape Ann – from Magnolia to East Gloucester to Rockport to Lanesville to downtown Gloucester.
You can download a map and brochure from their website at www.capeannartisans.com. It is best to plot your route ahead of time. I thought I knew the streets of Gloucester pretty well, but there are some studios tucked into nooks and crannies that I had to use the GPS to find.
Once underway, the treasures abound. As you make your way down Ferry Street, a little-traveled street in Gloucester, you must follow the signs carefully to the studio. At the end of the street is a boat yard with an old barn along the river and therein lies the studio. The marine and portrait artist has transformed this wooden boat-building building into an artist’s studio, and it is spectacular.
Further down the road to Lanesville is a pottery studio. Visitors are invited to come into the finished work display area and then to venture further back to where the work is produced.
There is an ingenious invention the artist has come up with modeled after some of the tools on the working waterfront. The pottery is placed on a heavy set of racks that roll on a track back and forth to the kiln – much like how boats are moved in and out of the water on marine railways which was the artist’s inspiration for the contraption.
In other studios, you can see the artist working in a garage or attic that has been transformed into his or her studio. Seeing the family dog as you make your way through the house, or the artist’s spouse tinkering in the kitchen adds to the overall experience of getting to know the work of the artist as well as the artist.
Sometimes the only work we see of an artist is what is on display at a show or for sale in a local gallery. When visiting the studio in which the artist works, it is astounding to see how prolific some of the artists are. There is one studio in which you can pour through hundreds of collagraph prints and paintings — and note that we are probably on hour 3 and visit 5 of the 23 studio tour!
Every stop on the tour has an element of surprise and delight. To cover all 23 studios in one day is difficult. Fortunately, the studios are open both days of the weekend (June 22 and 23). What I discovered is that it’s not just about the art. It’s also about the artist and the space in which they work in this beautiful place.
For the past two years, the city of Gloucester has been named one of the country’s top 10 art destinations by American Style Magazine. In the past year we’ve had two cultural districts designated in the city – a recognition of the significance of the arts and culture found in Gloucester.
Immerse yourself in the art world in Gloucester by going on the Cape Ann Artisans Open Studio Tour. See what hidden treasure you can find.
Carolyn A. Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.