The Clark County Open Studios Tour is back on the calendar for this fall, Saturday and Sunday, November 5-6. Now in its ninth year, the free self-guided tour continues to build connections as local artists open their studio doors to inquisitive visitors from near and far.
Open Studios is an annual juried art event designed to enhance community awareness of talented local artists while enriching the cultural life of Clark County neighborhoods. “We invite the community to step into the artist’s world and be inspired by the process of creativity. You’ll find inspiration, connect with others, and learn first-hand about painting techniques, printmaking, sculpture, glass, ceramic, jewelry, fiber arts, photography, and much more,” says Jennifer Williams, Open Studios Director.
How to take the tour
View the online artists’ directory to plan which artists you’d like to visit. Use the category filter to find: mediums, wheelchair-accessible studios, available classes, video demos, and the latest updates.
During the two-day tour, use your mobile device to access a user-friendly interactive google map showing all studio locations.
Remember the tour is free and self-guided. One great way to take the tour is to start right in your own neighborhood. Check the map to find the closest studio and start there. Who knows? You might discover your neighbor is an artist!
The intent of the tour isn’t to visit all 50 artists (though it has been done!) but to select the artists you’d most like to see. You can just keep clicking the next red dot on the Google map and see where it takes you! One of the great things about Open Studios is that it’s not only a tour of artists’ studios but it’s also a way of discovering areas of the County you may not have known about. Along your way, you’ll see Open Studios yard signs to guide you to each studio location.
The printed guides are back
The printed tour guides are back this year if you prefer to have something in hand! Pick one up from one of the following local sponsors; Art at the Cave, Aurora Gallery, Vancouver Art Space, the Attic Gallery, or at any studio location during the tour.
Artists’ stories and behind the scene details are the heart of the tour
The art and the studios where the creative process happens are as diverse as the artists themselves. This year’s tour features multiple farm studios, including father-and-daughter studios in a historic barn in Vancouver, a sheep farm in Ridgefield, an Alpaca farm in Camas, and an organic garden in Fern Prairie.
Driving around the county and exploring creative places can be a fun experience, but tour-goers will find it’s the artists’ stories and the details behind the scenes that are the heart of Open Studios. Visitors will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how the artists’ careers began, how they craft their work, what drives them to create, and how they make a living as an artist. Each year, the event showcases a wide range of art mediums and a diverse mix of artists.
Two artists new to Open Studios are potter-painter-photographer Jessica Joner and her metal sculptor dad Larry Holt. Joner, mother of four and a recent BFA graduate from Portland State University, says she draws inspiration for her art from her own personal life story. Her ceramic works are as elegant as her paintings are intriguing and evocative.
Alongside Joner’s studio is a renovated historic barn that serves as Holt’s welding studio. He is a self-taught artist whose craft sprung from his career experience as a precision welder. In addition to metal sculpting, Holt’s interests include constructing industrial furniture, digital photography, and jewelry making. This single stop along the Open Studios Tour between Felida and Salmon Creek offers visitors a view into two different artists’ worlds in one very creative family.
A new participant in Open Studios is Richard Britschgi, whose work is in an entirely unique medium. After retiring in 2015, Britschgi picked up a hobby of tumbling and polishing rocks. He transformed his garage into a lapidary shop with all the equipment to cut, grind, shape, and polish rocks. While most lapidaries cut slabs to polish or sell to jewelry artists, Britschgi takes it a step further to create animals, mushrooms, and insects. His art is one of a kind and he loves to watch people’s expressions when they first see his work.
Jungmoo Ahn returns to the tour and will be sharing the technique of traditional Korean landscape painting he has been practicing for over fifty years. It differs significantly from the Western tradition of painting in that once a brushstroke has been executed, it cannot be painted over. Ahn explains how each stroke carries with it the artist’s emotions and he strives to create paintings that move and breathe with the life force inherent in the landscape, reflecting beauty, goodness, and truth within a natural world in flux.
For artist Sharon Agnor, manipulating steel, bronze, and glass from basic elements into meaningful forms is a therapeutic and spiritual process, but the story behind the work goes much deeper. After a decade of grief, loss, and personal growth, her focus shifted from pure aesthetics to symbolic forms. Her complex and thoughtful work acknowledges the pain we conceal, hoping we may find comfort from those around us.
Clark County Open Studios is a program of the nonprofit, Artstra, and is made possible in part by assistance from the City of Vancouver, Washington Lodging Tax Grant Program. Additional funding is provided by artist application and participation fees, our local business sponsors, and volunteer and community support.