Thirty artists across the region put out a welcome mat for guests during the Pembina Valley Artists Studio Tour Sept. 14 and 15. Above, Bev Friesen, whose paintings were on display at a studio northwest of Altona, still had a work in progress, to the delight of visitors Tammy Hendrickx and Sally Unrau of Morden. Now in its ninth year, the two-day tour draws hundreds of art lovers from across the province.
It takes courage to invite total strangers into your work space, so they can see what you’ve been up to, and watch you do what you do.
But 30 artists across the region did just that during the 2013 Pembina Valley Artist Studio Tour Sept. 14 and 15.
Studios were located in barn lofts, professional galleries, quaint country sunrooms, heritage buildings and homes, offering dozens of genres and mediums, from pottery and woodwork, to paintings and sculptures.
Every year, roughly 400-500 visitors from across Canada and parts of the U.S. set aside a few hours or a few days to journey through the scenic autumn countryside of the valley.
They come to witness what many already know: that the region is filled with all kinds of creative talent.
This year was no exception. Venues, situated between Neubergthal to east, to the Manitou/La Riviere area to the west, drew hundreds of tourists, eager to see what treasures the area had to offer.
Bev Friesen and Gail Sawatzky displayed their paintings in two separate studios at Sawatzky’s farm northwest of Altona.
“We had excellent traffic,” says Sawatzky, reporting more than 100 visitors at their site alone.
Part of the tour since it began in 2005, both artists believe it’s a great way to showcase their work, but also to touch base with other artists in the region. It also offers an opportunity to sell their work.
“The only downside,” Friesen says, “is that while you’re showing off your studio, you can’t be out and about looking at everybody else’s.”
Friends Sally Unrau and Tammy Hendrickx of Morden had already taken in eight studios when they arrived at the Sawatzky farm.
“What a great way to spend a Saturday,” said Unrau. “There’s so much freedom to it. You don’t have to make an appointment, or call ahead. You just hop in your car and go, and just drop in.”
Many studios, such as Barb Wiebe’s Northwind Clayworks north of Altona, sold a good number of pieces.
“It’s a really good way to meet new people and gives local artists a chance to let their work shine,” said Wiebe. “We love being part of the tour.”