Area artists put on a show

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Scrap the typical weekend plans and discover the art of the Pikes Peak region. On November 13 and 14, art lovers in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs will have an opportunity to view and purchase works from 17 local artists.

The second annual Open Studio Artists’ Tour and Sale will kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will showcase sculptures, oil paintings, decorative screens and much more.

The tour consists of nine studios, two of which are in Manitou Springs. Tour goers are not required to follow any order when visiting studios during the weekend and all studios will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Each studio will hold a prize drawing for one work of art, so visiting all nine studios could be well worth the effort.

“We’re here to tell you there is a lot of art and talent here in the Springs,” said artist Laura Reilly. “You don’t have to drive to Santa Fe to find it. We’ve been sold the idea that there’s nothing to do here, but there’s so much going on here.” The Laura Reilly Studio Gallery is included on the tour and features original oil paintings of Colorado and New Mexico.

Judging from the success of last year’s event, Reilly, along with artists Douglas Rouse and Karen Pierce expect the 2004 tour to spark a great deal of interest. “Sales picked up after the event on the last weekend,” Reilly said.

Each of the 17 artists will have works available for sale at the event. “There’s a huge range in prices,” Pierce said. “Some items (last year) were as low as $4 all the way up to $6,500.” Pierce works alongside her husband, Marc Jenesel, at their Willow Bend Studios. Pierce and Jenesel create multimedia vessels combining raku bases and different woven fibers.

Art on the tour varies from artist to artist, Reilly said. “We chose artists based on professionalism – artists who are masters of their media,” she said. Before the 2003 event, a small group of artists, including Reilly and Rouse, formed a larger group that would put on a tour event. “It was purposely designed for independent artists,” Reilly said.

“It will evolve,” Rouse said. “Last year it started with a core group.” Rouse creates modern mixed media using recycled materials, manipulated photographs and found objects. He has also completed mural projects for area businesses and the downtown City Walk project. “People can come in and see our work,” Rouse said. “Some people will even be working in their studios.”

The event will include many artistic genres while maintaining a manageable feel, said artist Lori DiPasquale. “I don’t know how I’d feel being one of 500 people on a tour.” DiPasquale, who makes decorative screens using fabric, canvas and Venetian plaster, wants the event to retain its current level of intimacy. The tour will expose the community to a variety of artists, but it is not so large as to force people to pick and choose which studios they’ll have time to visit.

Every artist on the tour is familiar with the work of the other artists and is prepared to answer questions, Rouse said. Rouse, Reilly and Pierce want the event to help increase awareness of the importance of art in the community. “Businesses use art a lot of the time to say something specific to their customers and clients,” Reilly said. “Art can say ‘we’re cutting edge, we’re hip.’ It’s like a mission statement also, but in a picture.”

With the holidays fast approaching, visiting studios on the tour will inspire ideas for gifts, Reilly said. “It’s a very hopeful, joyful and giving experience,” she said. “People buy art for themselves and for others. We’re all busy and people don’t always have time to buy art.”

The tour was created both to enhance the artists’ visibility in the community, but also to expose area art lovers to an array of styles and talents. “The last thing people should cut out of their lives is art,” Pierce said.