After a challenging year for the arts community, the public will have the chance to support some of the region’s most talented artists when the Art Gallery of Peterborough’s annual Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour returns for its 37th year on the last weekend of September.
The Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. September 25 and 26, is a self-guided tour that allows you to step into the working spaces of regional artists working across a range of styles and mediums. Participating artists in the city and county of Peterborough will welcome visitors into their studios, share their practice, and promote and sell their work.
This year’s tour features 43 artists, eight of whom are new to the tour in 2021.
From painting, sculpture, and jewellery, to drawing, printmaking, and letterpress, the participating artists work in a wide range of mediums including oils, acrylics, watercolours, graphite, ceramics, textiles, metal, glass, wood, stone, mixed media, and even found materials.
With a variety of artists and mediums this diverse, there is truly something for everyone on the tour.
“We have such an exciting, talented, and diverse group of artists and makers in this region, and it’s really great to showcase that and be able to support them,” says Andrew Ihamaki, Education Programming Coordinator at the Art Gallery of Peterborough.
On the gallery’s webpage for the tour at agp.on.ca/kast, the public can view profiles of each of the participating artists and images of their work to decide which studios they want to visit. The locations of each artist’s studio, along with a downloadable map of all of the tour stops, will be available on the gallery’s website closer to the event.
When you arrive at a tour location, signage will direct you to the right place. You will be greeted, welcomed into the studio, and invited to explore. Some artists provide demonstrations in their studios so visitors can watch how they work. Artists will also display their work for viewing and sale, and you will have the opportunity to chat with them. Each studio varies as much as the artists do. While some are in a commercial space, others are right inside the artist’s home.
“Each artist imparts their own personality into each of their spaces,” Ihamaki remarks. “It’s amazing to see. The studio itself is an insight into the artist’s mind. The locations are so different too. We cover such a wide range of the area.”
In addition to the tour itself, the Art Gallery of Peterborough dedicates an exhibition to the tour, featuring a work from each participating artist.
Not only does the exhibition capture the rich diversity of outstanding art produced within the region, it also acts as a perfect “buffet menu” opportunity for the public to come in and sample a bit of each artist’s work. From there, you can determine your destinations for the tour.
“Selections: 37th Annual Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour Exhibition” will open along with the gallery during step three of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan, currently expected to begin in late July.
In terms of the pandemic’s impact on this year’s tour, Ihamaki says the gallery will continue to monitor public health measures. He anticipates a limited capacity of visitors to each studio at one time as well as physical distancing measures. Ihamaki also points out that, after pivoting the tour last year to accommodate public health measures, they are in an excellent position to pivot again if needed.
Last year’s studio tour was spread over a month to accommodate public health measures, including a requirement for visitors to book appointments at the studios in advance. While the pandemic resulted in fewer visitors than in previous years, the tour was still very successful. Ihamaki says it attracted as many as 500 visitors, with the participating artists collectively grossing $58,240 in sales.
The studio tour is typically an excellent economic driver as well as a great outreach event for local artists. In its best year, the tour grossed $100,689 for participating artists. Additionally, the tour would draw many visitors from other areas before the pandemic — visitors who spend money in the area in places such as local restaurants.
The tour is an excellent opportunity for artists to promote themselves and connect with potential buyers, and a great educational opportunity for the public to learn about the work involved for professional artists in creating their works.
And that’s the ultimate goal of the Art Gallery of Peterborough in organizing the annual studio tour.
“It’s always been at the core of this tour to put the artist at the forefront,” says Ihamaki. “We do a lot of work to put this event on, but the whole point of it isn’t the Art Gallery of Peterborough. It’s a great way to support the artists while working with them to support our mandate, which is to emphasize local art, artists, and education.”
To learn more about the Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour and the Art Gallery of Peterborough, visit the gallery’s website at agp.on.ca. For updates, you can also follow the gallery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This story was created in partnership with the Art Gallery of Peterborough.