Dullish weather certainly didn’t dull sales at the 10th annual Art in Action Studio Tour.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 7,  2012  The sunshine chose not to appear but the event went well nevertheless as art patrons from across the city drove to the ten studios that were part of the Art in Action’s 10th annual studio tour.

Teresa Seaton’s Poppies stained glass piece highlights the red leaves on the tree outside the studio she was showing in as part of the Art in Action Studio Tour – this was their tenth event.

There were a number of the regulars at the different studios and there was some talent that was international in scope.  We saw jewellery that is being featured in some high fashion magazines and glass work that draws top prices.

The 36 artists in the ten studios, conveniently grouped into east end, west end and downtown locations, had groups of people who came in small waves.  A studio would be empty one minutes and the suddenly quite full.  In one house a neighbour dropped in with the comment “I didn’t even know this was going on” and stayed to look over the jewellery.

Jessica Gneth, last year’s scholarship winner takes part in her first Art in Action studio tour. Water colourist Sarah Carter works in the background.

Jessica Gneth, one of the scholarship winners last year, took part for the first time.  There was some nervousness, a little awkwardness as well but the more experienced artists were on hand to help out and give some advice.  Gneth, an MM Robinson student, will be back again.

Some studios worked better than others but all were active.  We ran out of time this year and got to just eight of the ten. Problem with going every year is that you meet artists you met the year before and you get to see the growth in their work and appreciate just what they have to offer.

A very attravtive set of small oil paintings that were also very pleasantly priced were part of the Cheryl Goldring offering.

Cheryl Goldring has certainly grown as an artist.  Her watercolours are much larger and more ambitious than in previous years and while small birds are likely to always be a passion for her – the offering this year was much broader.  There were some very well executed small oils offered this year.

Cheryl Laakes had much more fabric on display this year.  Tammy Hext, as she has in the past, painted while patrons looked at her previous work.

Helen Griffiths, who did very well on the selling side had a large selection on display. The paining at the top right sold during the day.

It was a delight to photograph Helen Griffiths and the walls covered with her art and then realize that one of the paintings that was there when the picture was taken, wasn’t there anymore – it had been sold.  The oil painting was of colourful houses on a street in St. John’s Newfoundland, and was sold to a Newfoundlander now calling Burlington home.

Kyle Brooke did a nice, close to brisk business, at the Ed Roy Gallery across the street from the Royal Botanical Gardens entrance on Plains Road.  This is a ceramics artist to watch.

Aubrey Denomy, in a Belvenia Road studio, was perhaps the most eclectic in her offerings.  She has sculpture, paintings and what she called “Christmas tree bling” available.

Peter Schlotthauer has moved into smaller items with a couple of rings on display that show considerable promise.

David Cockell, a whimsical illustrator, painted while patrons browsed at the Artist’s Walk in the Village Square.

Doug Cockell worked away at one of his whimsical paintings, almost oblivious to the people who were walking through the studio in the Village Square, which we have heard has been sold.  If the rumour is true, that was one of the fastest commercial sales in the history of this city.  Rumours abound  as to what will happen to a property that was once a favourite spot for Burlingtonians.

I would put any sale down to wishful thinking on the part of the owners.

Kyle Brooks, a ceramic artist with work that is international in scope, writes up a sale. Her studio across the road from the RBG is well worth a visit. An artists worth watching.

Teresa Seaton, the artist that seems to do most of the organizing of the event (she does have a committee working with her) said that sales were up but the visits were down a little.   Most of the ten sites got between 350 and 400 visitors but there were a few that were quite a bit lower.

The Art in Action people have been doing this for ten years now and while the event has grown it isn’t quite where many had hoped it would be.  “We’ve tried everything” said Seaton. “We even advertised on the Weather Channel and the numbers are OK but the hope was that they would be higher than they are.”

Monica Bell, a quilter taking part in the Studio Tour for the first time.

The ten studios can be covered in a day.  We found that a number of people travelled around together in a van which made it something of an outing.

Does Art in Action grow the event and have even more than 10 studios?  They aren’t sure yet.  Would it make some sense to have a collection of artists at the Village Square?  That could happen but they would need better cooperation from the family and that hasn’t transpired so far.

Artists can’t afford retail rents – they have always set up in parts of a city that aren’t fashionable where the rents are low.  With the artists in place the places become fashionable, the rents go up and the artists have to move on to less expensive digs.

There is an opportunity here for whoever buys the Village Square – set aside some space for those “starving” artists and let them be the draw.  The place could certainly use the traffic.

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