Off the walls

North Tahoe Arts ARTour

Terri Tangney, of Tahoe Pines, is one of the 32 Tahoe-area artists preparing to open studios to the public during the North Tahoe Arts ARTour.

Terri Tangney, of Tahoe Pines, is one of the 32 Tahoe-area artists preparing to open studios to the public during the North Tahoe Arts ARTour.

Photo By Rebecca Ann Eckland

Often art is presented in well-lit galleries looking clean, polished and elite. That can be pleasant, but the illusion of professionalism keeps important elements of art absent from the scene: the process of creation, the artist in the studio covered in paint-splattered clothes.

Next weekend, North Tahoe Arts brings the messy side of art straight into the limelight by hosting ARTour, an annual event that invites the public into the private spaces of Tahoe-area artists.

Terri Tangney, a watercolorist who has ventured into oil paints, is one of the few artists on Tahoe’s West Shore. Her scenes include sights familiar to those acquainted with the Tahoe Basin: waves cascading over piers, watercolored aspens and oil-painted bears.

“ARTour is interesting because you can see where an artist works and how they work,” the 30-year Tahoe resident says. In her living room, a very friendly cat likes to greet guests, and an easel stands prominently in a corner, holding a painting of wild horses racing through a lighted mist.

Tangney doesn’t have a studio per se. Instead, she paints in an alcove of the living room of her cozy home in Tahoe Pines. She fits her artwork into the spare moments and spaces of her busy, three-job life.

Although she’s been an artist nearly all her life, Tangney says her struggle with breast cancer in 1996 pushed her to learn to express her passion for life through painting.

Last year—her first year participating in ARTour— Tangney created an outdoor showroom in her garden, where she set up her paintings on easels and wooden stands. A grove of pines and aspens next to her bubbling pond, filled with orange and black koi, made for the kind of comfortable, quiet exhibition space that Tangney enjoys showing her work in.

“I’m fortunate to live in an area blessed with such breathtaking beauty,” she says. “The lake, mountains, meadows, sunrises and sunsets are a never-ending inspiration. If I can stir the emotions of just one of my viewers through my work, I feel rewarded and grateful for this opportunity to share my love of art.”

This year, 32 artists plan to participate in ARTour, showing work in a spectrum of media. Lynn McGeever’s fused glasswork, Randall Stauss’ watercolor and oil paintings, Jennifer Egan’s painted ceramics and furnishings and Judith and Lawrence Romiti’s woven designs will be among the offerings.

All the artists participating in ARTour have been juried by North Tahoe Arts. Some are nationally known and collected: others are emerging artists, showing their work for the first time.

This is the 12th year of ARTour and the first year where maps showing studio locations will be distributed for free. In past years, North Tahoe Arts charged a fee for the map and used the event as a fundraiser. This summer, making the event easily accessible to the public became a more important goal than raising funds.

Artists like Tangney are expressing a similar goal—getting their work and their work spaces in the public eye—by preparing their homes and studios to give visitors behind-the-scenes glimpses into what it’s like to be a working artist.

“Events like this are like windows,” she remarks, “ones you don’t get to look through all the time.”