Climb up the creaky wooden staircase, wind around the narrow stairwell and discover a stash of old paintings, furniture and antiques in a colorful room. With the musty smells of cigarettes and paint, you might feel as if you’ve found your way to Paris in another era.
But you’re in painter Randall Lake’s studio in downtown Salt Lake City — one of dozens across the Salt Lake Valley that will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday for the free Wasatch Studio Tour.
“A studio is kind of like a painting because it just goes through different phases,” Lake said, describing his work space in the historic Guthrie Building on 200 South in Salt Lake City. “On all my trips to Paris, I go to the flea market and I buy a steamer trunk and by the end of the trip it’s full of porcelains. All the things I love. And then they become props in my paintings.”
More than 120 artists will welcome visitors in about 45 locations from Salt Lake City to Draper. They work in 20 mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, ceramics and jewelry.
Guests can meet artists, ask questions, see their tools and inspirations, watch some at work and purchase work during an experience that’s different from a gallery stroll, said sculptor David LeCheminant, a Wasatch Studio Tour committee member.
“A gallery stroll is where you’re going into a brick-and-mortar gallery or a public space for art exhibition and you’re usually interacting with the gallerist,” LeCheminant said. “It’s usually a very nice experience, but often you’re not interacting with the artists. And for sure you’re not interacting with their process. You’re not seeing their tools. Or their trade or their setup or the back story of how it’s made.”
You can structure your tour by medium or location. LeCheminant suggests browsing the event’s website at wasatchstudiotour.com to decide which studios you most want to see, and then using its Google map locator to see who else is nearby. There are also mobile-friendly artist and location lists on the site and, at any of the studios, printed tour guides.
“We’re asking people to curate your weekend. … Look and see what interests you, take some notes and then use one of our wayfinding resources to plan your trip,” he said.
Some artists are being hosted at another studio, or in a larger space with other creators. Those are a good opportunity for people to see many works at once, but organizers hope you won’t be shy about visiting individual artists — such as Dennis Reynolds, Laura Sharp Wilson and Justin Wheatley — who work out of their own studios or homes.
Discover a different way
Embroidery artist Sara Luna Pereyra will be exhibiting with other members of the group Mothers of Prima Materia, such as painter Jimmi Toro and photographer Chris Madsen. She will demonstrate her art and teach people her process at the Downtown Artist Collective, 258 E. 100 South in Salt Lake City.
“I want to be able to invite people to sit with me and I’m going to be working on a piece. I’m planning on having needles and let the people punch with me,” she said.
Pereyra is from Santiago, Chile, where she began creating her punch needle portraits using a type of embroidery primarily used to make rugs. “I bought a lot of fabric. I made a lot of mistakes. I spent a lot of money trying to figure it out how this works,” she said.
While she was in school in Chile, she created a series of portraits of her aunt, who died from lung cancer, and presented them to her art teachers. “They told me, ‘This is not good, this looks like an embroidery sample book,’” she remembers. “My heart was broken because I was so in love. And they told me, ‘You should do photography.’”
She gave up embroidery for a year and moved to the United States, but brought her punch needle and hand-dyed yarn with her. She saw an art contest in Sandy and decided that she needed to make one last portrait of her aunt. She entered it into the contest and won.
“I was like, ‘Oh, people like this? Maybe my teachers weren't right.’ So I made another one and another one and another one and then my work started [taking] shape,” said Pereyra.
Pereyra wants people to know that anyone can take any kind of medium and learn to make art out of it.
“Some artists, they don’t realize that there’s a lot of things that are not discovered yet,” she said. “There’s a lot of mediums that could be used in a different way.”
Find your passion
Pioneer Craft House will have the highest concentration of artists in one location, with 17 people working in mediums such as fine jewelry, textile art, ceramics and woodworking.
“It is kind of an old, creaky, musty building, but oh my goodness, there’s a full-on jewelry-making shop, there’s a full-on kiln and there’s a huge ceramics area. There’s a painting and drawing studio and there’s a beautiful fiber arts building,” said LeCheminant.
The community art education center at 3271 S. 500 East offers workshops and classes taught by local artisans. Many of them will offer demonstrations and invite guests to try their hand at a pottery wheel, or water casting in jewelry making or weaving fabric on a loom.
“Finding your passion and making things with your hands is so satisfying,” said weaving instructor Deanna Baugh, a Wasatch Studio Tour artist. “I love what I do. My job in the world is to make more weavers.”
Baugh has been weaving fabric for 40 years. She teaches classes on beginning and intermediate weaving at the craft house. They have several looms for students to use and rent. She has a dye garden for the yarn and instructs students on the process from beginning to end.
“We’re in a disposable society and we never think of where all these fabrics came from,” said Baugh. “Weaving has been with us for so long and it’s important that we keep it with us.”
One of the tour’s goals is to support local artists; 100% of the proceeds from sales are kept by the creators. Prices will range widely, according to LeCheminant, but he believes there will be something for everyone.
Tour organizers also aim to help artists learn to promote themselves and their work, and to pair art enthusiasts with the artists. “The uniqueness about us is it’s giving exposure to people that otherwise just really don’t get exposure,” LeCheminant said.
WASATCH STUDIO TOUR
The first Salt Lake Valley wide open studio tour will feature more than 120 artists in 45 locations, with 20 mediums to discover.
When • Oct. 12 and 13, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where • Locations throughout the Salt Lake Valley. See www.wasatchstudiotour.com for details.
Admission • Free and open to the public
Coverage of downtown Salt Lake City arts groups is supported by a grant from The Blocks, a cultural initiative of Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.