By Hayley Thomas
More than 220 artists from Arroyo Grande to Templeton will splatter, paste, sculpt and snap fresh artwork for the 11th Annual ARTS Obispo Open Studios Art Tour, spanning 16 cities and three weekends this month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The self-guided “tour” is known for prompting art-lovers to veer from the beaten path, discover virtually unknown studios and visit artists’ eclectic homes, often hidden along windy back roads.
The fundraiser will showcase South County from Oct. 10-11 and North County Oct. 17 through 18. A countywide encore runs Oct. 24-25, and proceeds from the event benefit Arts Obispo’s education, grant and Art in Pubic Places programs.
Arts Obispo program director Alissa Maddren said the goal is to advance and improve public access to the arts in San Luis Obispo County.
“Many artists are doing demonstrations and that will bring people into the studios, where people are creating works of art,” Maddren said. “You can’t see that every day.”
A digital preview of each contributor’s work will be displayed at the old Creamery building located at 70 Higuera St., Ste. 165 in downtown San Luis Obispo beginning Friday, Oct. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.
“This year we will have a special exhibit where all artists are invited to join a small works show,” she said. “Nothing may be larger than six inches in any dimension.”
The exhibit runs through October 25 and is open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Glossy, full-color catalogs complete with North and South County maps will be used in lieu of tickets for the event. The maps are $25 and may be purchased at several North County locations, including Firefly Gallery at 1301 Park St. and the Art Works at 1336 Railroad St. in Paso Robles.
Tour-goers will then be encouraged to make the unpredictable journey through the Central Coast’s art world that the Open Studios Art Tour is known for.
“We are inclusive and let everyone participate, so it is a tremendous opportunity for artists,” Maddren said. “Artists that have a local following say it is the best event for them financially, but it’s really a win-win boost for everyone involved.”
Painter Jay Slean may embody the event’s inclusive spirit, as he’ll be exhibiting 20 to 30 vintage-meets-futuristic pieces in his “living museum” home at 4755 Dolores Ave. in Atascadero.
Like his paintings, Slean’s house is one part 1960s memorabilia, one part science fiction fantasy. “Miss Atom Bomb,” which depicts a plus-sized, lingerie-clad woman standing before an apocalyptic background, will be on display alongside other acrylic paintings featuring martians, rocket ships and scenes from early California history.
The 47-year-old artist will also spin records on a vintage turntable.
“A lot of people that do retro artwork do it in a kitschy way, but I refuse,” he said. “I can guarantee my exhibit will offer something totally different.”
Photographer Lori Oliver of Templeton will be displaying some unconventional art in her own home. The artist said she creates her masterpieces by snapping photos of light sources in the dark while rapidly waving her digital camera around. The results, she said, have mood and personality.
The photographs, which resemble swirls of glowing neon lights or streaks of falling, brilliantly colored fireworks, will be on display in Oliver’s living room-turned-gallery space at 920 Wild Oats Way in Templeton.
“It’s not Photoshopped at all; it’s just the image that comes out of the camera,” Oliver said. “I straighten and crop them. You can hang it one way and it looks angry, or hang it another way and it may look like a dolphin leaping out of the water.”
The spontaneous images will be hung as well as displayed and circulated on a television screen.
“It isn’t a secret process,” she said. “I wish everyone in the world, instead of standing still, would shake their cameras around and play with the light.”
A new feature of the Art Tour will be the involvement of Studios on the Park, a Paso Robles artists’ collective located at 1130 Pine St. across the street from Downtown City Park.
The location boasts about 10,000 square-feet and is home to about twenty artists’ studios. Arts Obispo board member and founding Studios on the Park member Heidi Franscioni said tour-goers will be able to watch as the collective’s potters, collage artists, painters, and photographers create their one-of-a-kind pieces.
“We have become a fine arts hub in the North County very quickly,” Franscioni said of the four-month-old group. “Each of us have a studio space where we work, teach and sell.”
Franscioni will also be demonstrating how she creates her encaustic photography, which entails smearing beeswax over photographs. The collective will also feature a Blue Bazaar flea market, where passers-by can pick up original works at slashed prices.
“Many of our artists have been involved in the Art Tour individually, and we’re looking forward to doing this as a group,” Franscioni said. “It’s about people’s living rooms and studios and outhouses; you really run the gamut. My only regret is that I can’t go to the North County art tour myself.”
For more ticket information including where to buy tickets in Atascadero, Santa Margarita and Templeton visit www.sloartscouncil.org or call ARTS Obispo at 544-9251.