The Orange County Artist's Guild Studio Tour returned for its 27th year during the first two weekends in November.
The event covered studios in Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. Over 100 artists in the guild opened their doors to visitors, and the Open Studio Tour featured a range of mediums including textile, sculpture, mixed media and painting.
"The tour is always a great success, and I look forward to the tour every year,” Jason Smith of metal sculpting studio Sculpture Smith said.
He said he and his wife moved to North Carolina because of the strong arts community in the area.
The studio tour event brings publicity to artists who are part of the nonprofit guild. Smith said he typically sells out sculptures during the tour.
Fiber artist Susan Brubaker Knapp participated in the tour for the first time this year.
“This is an area that is so rich in all of the arts, the performing arts and the visual arts,” Brubaker Knapp said.
She said she was surprised by how much work she sold, and she estimated having between 200 and 250 attendees visit her studio over both weekends.
“This is a way for artists to get most of the money the work is worth back in their own pocket,” Brubaker Knapp said.
Brubaker Knapp also said supporting local artists and buying art in person is important, because a third party takes a percentage of the profit from online purchases. She said many artists are starting out and need the money from their work to support their families.
“When people come into your studio and you get to talk to them, you start to figure out what people like and why they like it,” Brubaker Knapp said.
Chieko Murasugi, an abstract collage artist, is another first-time participant.
“I was very pleasantly surprised at the turnout and just the engagement of people who came,” she said.
Murasagi said she felt most people had done research and were inquisitive about her work, especially her process, during the tour.
“Artists and creative people in general are a vital part of a community," Murasugi said. "They fill all sorts of needs, including entertainment and decoration, but also activism and social critique.”
Brubaker Knapp said the event allowed her to come up with ideas for new pieces and allowed attendees to walk around and get an idea of larger commissions they might want to invest in.
Smith also said he had many meaningful conversations with attendees during the event and answered several questions about his technique.
“Especially this year, I think people were so eager to tangibly get out and about and look at art and talk to artists and see the studios because we didn’t get to do it last year,” Smith said.
The event took place virtually last year due to the pandemic. Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns this year, some artists, like Smith, held their showcases outside with precautions in place.
The Orange County Artist’s Guild website featured a list for visitors to search by outdoor and indoor studios, as well as those that are accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
The event's sponsors include The Carolina Inn and the Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market.
“The Tour is really a terrific event, and I hope that it continues for a long time and it continues to be successful,” Murasugi said.
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