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See local artists create in their own habitat

Art Harvest Studio Tour offers a chance to glimpse the artistic process of local masters

One of Yamhill County’s oldest events will continue for a 23rd year, offering an exclusive look at the art-making process of more than three dozen regional artists representing a variety of mediums.

Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County begins this weekend, showcasing an array of creative forms — from forged metal sculpture to wire-wrapped sterling silver jewelry to fine and recycled wood furniture, in addition to standbys like oil painting, wheel-thrown pottery and fine art photography.

This year 39 artists will be featured from Amity, McMinnville, Sheridan, Carlton, Yamhill and Newberg. Local artists include Kathleen Buck, Gary Buhler, Wes Cropper, Jeanne Cuddeford, Pete Snow, Brad Speer, Kathy Thompson and Linda Workman-Morelli.GARY ALLEN - On display - Dwight Evalt, painter and sculptor, is one of 39 artists  featured in this year's Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County. As part of the program, artists will show their work at the Chehalem Cultural Center, offering the  public a chance to preview and decide which artists they want to visit at their studios, beginning this weekend.

Eleven of the artists are new this year, which Nelson said is a frequent occurrence.

“It’s one of the most effective ways you can market your work; I mean they come to you,” Nelson said.

A gallery setting has pros and cons, as an artist usually has to wait to get an opening. There might be limits on how much work can be displayed, but in an artist’s house there are no prescribed limits.

“This way somebody gets to come in and they can see 50 (pieces),” Nelson said.

The sales factor is the primary focus for artists, who last year averaged about $1,500 in sales. The figures differ from year to year, Nelson said, partially due to the mysteries of marketing.

“There’s no prediction, there’s no way to find an explanation for that,” he said.

Still, even if there aren’t high sales the program offers a prime chance for name recognition and exposure.

It’s also just an enjoyable process for artist and viewer alike.

“It’s really fun opening your doors so that people can see how your art is made,” Newberg artist Kathy Thompson agreed: “I have a little niche making tiles from clay and then incorporating those tiles into mosaics. It’s a little different than what people have seen before with mosaics.”

Thompson has been participating in the studio tour for about a dozen years and stresses its value in enlightening a wider audience to the Yamhill County art scene.

“It just amazes me the incredible amount of talent we have in the area, so diversified,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see it. Without this tour, a lot of us would just be obscure, nobody would know.”

In its 23-year run the program has had a number of coordinators, each approaching the tour with their own approach. Nelson, who has been coordinating the event for three years and whose background is in museum work, has left his legacy in the Chehalem Cultural Center exhibits that happen in concert with the studio tour.

For the third year visitors have a chance to preview art by each participating artist, before heading out to individual studios. Each artist will display two or more pieces of work at the CCC, offering a chance to peruse and decide which artist to visit while they work.

An opening reception will be held at the CCC the first evening of the studio tour during First Friday, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Last year 500 students came through the CCC to see the art, with some demonstrations by artists and small hands-on courses for the kids.

Thompson said the CCC component of Art Harvest has been a particularly beneficial part of the program for Newberg, as it draws many visitors to the city to kick off the event.

People often use the harvest tour as an opportunity to get out to wine country and tour the countryside in a wider sense, taking in the wineries and restaurants in addition to the studios. About half of the guests are from outside Yamhill County, Nelson estimates. The Art Harvest Studio Tour aspires to achieve something like what the wine industry has done, not only raising its own industry profile but also providing a boon to the local economy as well.

“There’s a benefit to all of the businesses throughout Yamhill County, all the coffee shops and restaurants and all the other stores,” he said. “Even if they don’t stop at that time, they get a chance to see what’s available.”

The studio tours run from10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday as well as Oct. 9 through Oct. 11.

For more information including information about participating artists and maps of studios and sponsoring businesses, visit www.artharveststudio.org