Artists Studio Tour explores Northern California's Backroads
The hills and valley of Calaveras County are filled with artists—painters, sculptors, potters, jewelers and more. The Calaveras Arts Council wants you to meet them on the annual Artists Studio Tour. Tour the county and meet artists in their studios and gathering places. “There’s something really special about meeting artists in person, as well as seeing parts of Calaveras County you don’t normally travel to,” said Maggie Sloan, coordinator for the event. “When you buy artwork on this tour, it gives you a real connection with the artists and our beautiful county.”
This popular event is traditionally held on the third weekend of September (September 17-18, 2022). The tour is admission free; you can find printed maps at the Gallery in San Andreas, Quyle Kilns in Murphys, and many public libraries and stores.
Or you can download a map and listing from the Arts Council’s website: www.calaverasarts.org.
The route is up to you
While a dedicated art explorer could see the entire tour in a single day, driving the width and breadth of the county to see all 27 artists at all 19 in one day is a heavy lift. It’s more comfortable to break the tour into two days, enjoy the backroads and highways, and spend more time with the artists.
Copperopolis to Murphys
For instance, on one day, you might tour the entire Highway 4 route, starting in Copperopolis at Susie Hoffman’s Town Hall Arts/Gallerie Copper, where Susie Hoffman paints florals, pet portraits, landscapes and still lifes in oil and watercolor. A bonus: Her work is turn-key art, beautifully framed by husband Larry, who runs the framing portion of the shop.
Next stop: Angels Camp, where two artists will open their studios. Ceramic sculptor Larisa Stevenson creates nature-centered ceramic sculptures and functional ware often decorated with bears, birds, bunnies, and other creatures. Just a few streets away, Connie Bowser uses the forms of the gourds to make soft, pleasing work tied to the natural world with the natural elements like feathers and antler horns.
From Angels Camp, take Murphys Grade Road to find Amanda Maule’s pottery studio. Amanda combines wheel-thrown pieces and sculpture to create animals, fountains and garden totems. She’ll be sharing her space with Theresa Vandenberg Donche, whose bold, colorful, and fearless abstract art complements Amanda’s painterly work.
Then head into the “suburbs” of Murphys to find Judie Cain’s sweet studio, where she will be showing her impressionistic oil paintings of landscapes and florals. In Pennsylvania Gulch, Marlene Bradford, a popular ceramics teacher at Quyle Kilns opens her own ceramics studio for the first time; studio and garden are filled with ceramic sculptures.
Heading out of Murphys, Sheep Ranch Road to Fullen Road will take you to Michael Gustavson’s popular stop. Michael’s monumental ceramic sculptures are unique and are best seen at his gorgeous studio site that overlooks the foothills.
From Dorrington to Murphys
Ann Nancy Macomber is the eastern most artist on Artists Studio Tours. Her little studio set among the trees is a little difficult to find from Highway 4, but well worth the effort. A quilter as well as a painter, she uses both disciplines to create images full of color and interwoven shapes to create unique pieces.
Arnold hosts two artists. Potter Heidi Gaissert embraces unexpected outcomes in her functional pottery, which makes every piece a unique original.
New to the tour this year, Ryan Doran makes paintings that fuse the grittiness of the street with the traditional graffiti stencil style, combining paint and paper, darkness and light, music and street ethos to create a mosaic capturing the beauty and urban decay of the every day.
For the first time, Gene and Phoebe Bryan opens their home studio in Hathaway Pines to show their whimsical ceramic sculptures, as well as Gene’s photography. It’s a beautiful site that you won’t want to miss.
End your Highway 4 tour at Quyle Kilns, where four artists will exhibit together. This site is overseen by potter Pamela Quyle, whose functional pottery is decorated with delicately glazed paintings. You can catch a demonstration from jeweler Sherri Bloomer who works with cut stones and historical impression dies to create jewelry that celebrates nature, the past, and history. Pick up a miniature (or full size painting) by Victoria Fout of fantastical creatures or a surreal landscape. Oil painter George Haskell paints landscapes and florals, but his favorite subjects are his Corgi dogs.
From Valley Springs to Sheep Ranch
In the northwest part of the county, the driving distances seem greater, but the roads weave through gorgeous country. You’ll visit eight artists on this leg of the tour, from potters to painters.
New to the tour this year, daughter and father team Katelyn and Wayne Rinehart will exhibit together at their studio in Valley Springs. Ceramist Katelyn will show her functional pottery and ceramic sculpture, as well as Lino prints, while father Wayne will display his acrylic resin paintings, and live-edge slab tables and furniture.
Also new this year, John Trickey in San Andreas will show his acrylic and mixed media paintings, handmade art guitars, and found-object sculptures at his shop on Highway 49.
From there, it’s easy to head north to the next stop in Mokelumne Hill. In her shady studio patio just outside of town, Deborah Marlene will show landscapes, florals, and nature-centered still lives in watercolor and alcohol ink.
Just up Highway 26 from Mokelumne Hill, you’ll find Sonya Ziegler’s art studio at Lower Dorray Road. Sonya is well-known throughout the Motherlode art world for her sensitive oil paintings of animals, nature, and landscapes. Jewelry creator Brenda Montelongo will join her. Brenda uses sterling silver, turquoise and other semiprecious gemstones to create bright earrings, necklaces and bracelets that will make you feel connected to the earth.
It’s an easy and gorgeous road from Lower Dorray Road to Sarah Cuthill’s studio outside of Mountain Ranch. You may have seen some of Sarah Cuthill’s murals around the county. She’s also an illustrator and a writer, working in themes of mythology and storytelling.
The easiest way to visit the two artists exhibiting in their studios in Sheep Ranch is via the road from Mountain Ranch. It’s an interesting drive, and you’ll be rewarded by Gayle Lorraine’s abstract intuitive acrylic paintings and Shay Baker’s playful mixed media confections of acrylic and pastels.
Artists Studio Tours is a wonderful way to meet artists and see the county at the same time. For more information go to www.calaverasarts.org, or email Kathy Mazzaferro at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209/754-1774
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