Sponsored by School 33, a municipal nonprofit art center in Federal Hill, Open Studios is an annual event where artists welcome the public into their studios. This year’s Open Studio Tour, in its twenty-third year, will be bigger and, hopefully, better than ever before. The roster boasts more than one hundred artist participants, as well as several local gallery spaces, a definite increase from past tours.
“For those who have never participated, this is a great way to see a huge amount of local art in the span of two days,” explains René Treviño, Exhibitions Coordinator at School 33. “For artists, it is an awesome opportunity to reach out to the public, expand their audience, meet new patrons, and sell work directly from their studios with no commission. It is the only time in the year when so many artist studios are open at one time, so it’s a great opportunity to meet local artists, get a glimpse into their process, see works in progress, and collect art by buying directly.”
The nonprofit art center would like to encourage a record amount of new attendees, so School 33 will host a kick-off event and print signs and postcards, purchase ads in the City Paper and local bus shelters, and produce radio spots on local stations. Instead of the former, printed map of all the studios, there is a new, online interactive map so visitors can plan their itineraries from their computers or smart phones. The studios are open for two days (Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23) and, as always, “We hope to have good weather to encourage lots of foot traffic,” says Trevino.
Mixed media artist Nancy Linden has participated in the Open Studio Tour since 1997. Her studio is located in the Cork Factory, a large artist hub in Station North with artist spaces on six different floors. According to Linden, “It’s like a big city-wide party. Since I’m in a building with other artists, we attract a lot of people who know the work of one or more of us or figure it’s a good way to see several artists with one stop. It’s very festive; everybody’s got munchies, wine, and sometimes music.”
Besides exhibiting her own work, Linden enjoys visiting other artists’ studios on the tour. “Sometimes I go to see the studios themselves, because many are in interesting old buildings,” she says. “I also go to see how various artists make their work, to see new work from artists I like, or to find interesting new artists I was not familiar with. I always run into friends. And of course there’s the wine-and-cheese factor.”
Artist Devin Mack is a first-time participant in the Studio Tour. He creates wire sculptures and describes his new studio as “a beautiful, window-filled, Baltimore rowhome in Remington.” According to Mack, “The tour is a great opportunity to see an artist unfiltered and unjuried. Visitors to my studio can expect a messy workspace off the alley and plenty of finished work up on the first floor.” He will have his work, mostly figurative with a range in sizes, for sale, and he is “looking forward to shaking hands with, and perhaps hugging, as many people as possible.”
Another newcomer to the Open Studio Tour, Darl Gnau runs the Charmed Life Studio on Harford Road, a new space that opened about a year ago. “I think people want to visit artists studios to witness a working environment, to gain some insight into processes,” says Gnau.
“I am up for anything that brings the art community together, or brings the public in to appreciate the artists on showcase,” he says. “I am looking forward to seeing new faces and honestly putting our space on the map.” Currently on display at Charmed Life is a group show of artists “mashing together Star Wars and horror themes for the Halloween season.” According to Gnau, Charmed Life is a “clean and eclectic environment, with great folks and a good vibe.”
Lania D’Agostino keeps a large studio space in Federal Hill across the street from School 33. She is another longtime participant, with approximately sixteen years under her belt. According to D’Agostino, “My studio can be a little overwhelming on the first visit, which is why I get many people returning year after year to experience the studio and the art.”
Her studio is located on the second floor of a warehouse and she sets the tone for the visit when you walk up the stairs. “As you walk up, you are surrounded by a huge collection of mannequins,” she says. “They are used as parts for my museum figure business. Off to the right, I have a workshop where I do life-casting and sculpting. I have several projects going on so there are sculptures and castings in all phases. As you walk back beyond the mannequins—which are intermixed with several different styles of museum figures—there is my painting studio. The walls and floor are overflowing with paintings.”
D’Agostino is currently working on a museum project with LucasFilms, building custom Star Wars mannequins, as well as her own sculpture project, which involves thirteen female models. In her painting studio, there are approximately seventy paintings from several different series.
She enjoys this event “because, as an artist, I spend most of my time secluded in my studio working and by having it open to the public for one day is a great way to share my art and what my process is. It’s a great way to meet people and exchange ideas. I’ve met collectors that have never seen my work, other artists, people with great questions, and wonderfully curious children. I usually supply drawing materials for the excited and inspired ones.”
Studio Tour visitors who visit her studio, as well as many others on the School 33 map, will get the sense of “a real working studio,” says D’Agostino. “There’s a lot to see and experience and you will definitely walk away with something to ponder and a little dust to brush off.”
Whether you plan to visit all the artist studios on the map, or just a few, plan your School 33 Open Studio Tour itinerary at School 33’s online site.
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