Let the floodgates open

This year’s Open Studios Tour gains some press in unexpected areas

ARTISTS AT WORK This monoprint design created by artist Daniel Donnelly adorns the cover of the Open Studios Tour 2001 tour guide pamphlet.

ARTISTS AT WORK This monoprint design created by artist Daniel Donnelly adorns the cover of the Open Studios Tour 2001 tour guide pamphlet.

Dave Lawton has been squeezing out a heap of managerial elbow grease these past few weeks, helping guarantee the success of the Chico Art Center’s 12th-annual Open Studios Tour.

With the tour spread throughout Butte County—with over 90 artists from Chico to Gridley, Oroville, Paradise and points between opening their studios to the public—Lawton has gathered some awesome helpers to turn it into a major Northern California art event.

Lawton, who makes welded metal sculpture and sits on the board of directors of the Chico Art Center (CAC), has the aid of his wife and fellow-artist Jana ("Ceramic sculpture, wall hangings, and one-of-a-kind pottery,” according to the CAC’s Web site). Also helping out is Daniel Donnelly (monoprints, digital photography, digital transfer, and vice-president of the art center), and Deborah Austin of “Experience Butte County,” an offshoot of the Butte County Economic Development Corporation dedicated to increasing tourism in the county.

Lawton and company made up an Open Studios Tour insert for local papers and also placed it into newspapers going to selected zip codes in the Bay Area. That strategy has resulted in some phone calls from the metro area, but what will probably generate greater interest—for future Open Studio Tours and the Chico art scene—is a coup of Austin’s.

“Fishing Fantasy” is an iron sculpture created by tour organizer Dave Lawton.

Sunset magazine, the grandmother (first issue: 1898) of genteel Western Americana, is sending a writer to circumambulate the tour and produce an article on the richly talented artists of our humble region.

Two-dimensional work, ceramics, sculpture, glass blowing, digital art and much more awaits our Sunset writer as well as Butte County citizens interested in seeing new work by favorite artists and work by artists new to the tour.

In a telephone interview, Lawton said that his task group had actively reached out for new artists. It ran ads on the radio, for instance, which resulted in the addition of several artists to the tour and CAC membership. A virtual tour, of sorts, of representative work by CAC artists is available on the CAC’s Web site at http://www.chicoartcenter.com/memgal.html.

The co-producers have made an effort to contact local papers throughout the county to feature stories or interviews with their locale-specific artists. The idea is that, for example, while Chicoans might not feel inspired to travel to Yankee Hill to see pottery by two ceramicists, there could very well be many folks in Oroville who would find the journey worth their while.

So many studios! So much to see! Even with two days to run about the lofts, the rooms and the barns, planning is a necessity, and the winnowing list begins at the opening preview and reception on Friday, Nov. 2, at the Chico Art Center. Each participating artist will have one work in the gallery show. Admission is at no charge and is open to the general public from 8 to 10 p.m. Those who wish to begin their cultural enjoyment and social festivities at an earlier hour may purchase an official tour guide and arrive at the Art Center at 6 p.m.

The guide includes a map to all the studios, costs but $10 per person (children free with a paying adult) and may be purchased at the Chico Art Center, 450 Orange St., the local Chambers of Commerce in Chico, Oroville, Paradise and Gridley, and the Inner Journey Gallery in Paradise, 5550 Skyway.

The hours of the Open Studio Tour are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov 4. The Chico Art Center is open daily from 12 to 4 p.m. For further information call 530-895-8726.