Summer in the country brings endless opportunities for weekend entertainment across the towns and villages of our rural area. Whether you like music or art, farmer’s markets or yard sales, the Hudson Valley and Litchfield Hills offer something for everyone on nearly every summer weekend. We’ve had food festivals, book signings, and car shows already this summer but the lazy days of August still hold opportunities for more meandering at outdoor festivals. While many signature events from cultural powerhouses are ticketed, many arts organizations and volunteer-led community groups thankfully offer free or low-cost programs throughout the summer (check your local library!). Visitors and residents who appreciate music and art are especially blessed with the rich cultural offerings in summer here, some of which can be surprisingly accessible and intimate.
Walk that art!
For art lovers, one pastime that is especially popular in our region is the art walk. The concept of an art walk usually includes coordinated openings by galleries and artist workshops to show artwork throughout one or more towns, often in combination with live music or special restaurant menus. Commercial art galleries throughout the small towns of the Hudson Valley are almost always open for business on the weekends, but the connection between exhibited finished artwork and open artist’s studios is a real draw for visitors and residents alike. For artists working in rural areas around us, their work often reflects the native landscape or wildlife, or makes use of local materials. This makes a combination studio visit and gallery show doubly engaging as visitors to art walks can see the full scope of artistic process.
There is burgeoning interest in art walks. Lenox, MA, hosted an art walk in June that brought together 60 artists working around the Berkshires and included music, food, and ten participating galleries. Upstate Art Weekend, launched in 2020 with 23 participating artists and galleries recently hosted 145 participants based in Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster counties across a self-guided art walk in July. The growth in art walks seems to herald a new summer attraction for towns and regions aiming to highlight art and artists. Art walks are extremely accessible as they are almost always free, self-paced, and family-friendly. Visitors can visit as many or as few galleries and studios as they like, making them perfect on some level for just about everyone.
Since 2008, Art Studio Views (ASV), a volunteer-led group of artists and arts professionals in Rhinebeck, NY, has been hosting a four-town art walk through Dutchess and Columbia counties over Labor Day weekend. This year they will host the two-day walk through Germantown, Red Hook/Tivoli, Rhinebeck, and Hyde Park on September 2 and 3 from 11am-5pm. Art Studio Views gives art enthusiasts the opportunity not only to visit participating galleries but also to visit the studios and interact with the many working artists who live and work in the northern Hudson Valley.
Take a peek
Now in its 14th year, Art Studio Views really focuses on studio visits as a highlight. Both seasoned collectors and casual art lovers get a chance to peek into the studios of painters, printmakers, sculptors, ceramicists, woodworkers, and photographers, all of whom use different equipment and materials in their practice. Aside from conversations with artists, visitors can view draft ideas and works in progress as well as finished work for sale. This year 30 artists will participate in the ASV tour. Along with many returning Hudson Valley artists, the tour welcomes four newcomers to open their studios over the Labor Day weekend.
The opportunity for artists to engage with the public was one of the things that drew painter, Richard Marr to participate in ASV again this year. After attending the ASV in 2018 as he and his wife were contemplating a move to the Hudson Valley, he found the tour a wonderful way to get to know the creative culture of the region by meeting artists and other art enthusiasts. When he decided to make the move to Rhinebeck, he felt like he had a good sense of the artistic ecosystem in the area. Now, after having participated in ASV for two years, he’s found the annual event to be terrific exposure for his work. He sold five paintings through ASV in 2021. To him, ASV exposes artists to the public and the public to artists so it’s a fruitful experience for both. As an artist who is working at his practice in the evenings while holding a day job, he finds the ASV Tour to be a reliable deadline to work against to complete work.
“So many artists have different approaches to their work and half the fun is learning about how they got to their final piece. Ideas can come to artists in a number of ways,” explained ASV director Joanna Hess. Artists on the tour are present in their studios over the two-day tour and visitors can get to know both the creator and the work. Some artists show their work in galleries, but some don’t so the tour provides visibility to work that isn’t always publicly accessible otherwise. The process of selecting artists for the annual event begins in January Hess told me, and artists are selected by an ASV steering committee who visits each studio. As an established art walk, Art Studio Views hosts many returning artists on the tour who are well-established or mid-career. Emerging artists are less represented, though the committee welcomes applications from earlier stage artists.
Among new artists represented this year is woodworker, Peter Wagner. As a recent transplant from Brooklyn, Peter found his way to ASV almost by accident. Last year, a neighbor of his was on the tour and a yellow sign directing visitors to his studio was placed close to Peter’s house. Meeting art enthusiasts on the tour spurred him to reach out to ASV this year and apply. Peter’s work straddles the art world and what he calls the “practical”
world, creating bespoke wood furniture as well as cutting boards. “I make objects that will last into the future but whose component parts may already have a story to share. My respect for history fuels an extra level of intrigue when what I build comes from something with its own story. We live on an old farm, and on it are weathered oak paddock fences, fallen trees, and a venerable 1860s barn filled with timeworn wood. Some of these materials may yet play a part in stories to come. And I look forward to helping shape the narrative.” As Peter gets settled into the creative community of the Hudson Valley, he’s excited to see who pops into his studio on this year’s ASV tour.
Richard Marr gives credit to Joanna Hess for organizing the event, and helping to create the dynamic art ecosystem in the Hudson Valley. Once the ASV artists have been selected, Hess brings them together for a brunch in June to meet one another and give them the chance to discuss planning and coordination for the studio view tour. While open studios give insight into artistic process and practice for visitors, many artists welcome the informal and intimate visits to connect with admirers. “Nature plays an important role in what I want to portray as well as the intricate emotions and relationship between people. The constant state of flux that is a shared in both nature and people make it important to me to hold on to the intensity of the moment,” says printmaker, Melissa Katzman Braggins.
Braggins’ work, along with several other ASV artists, is currently on display in the show Exploring Paperworks at the Tivoli Artist Gallery. Other artists include Marie Cole, Janene Gentile, Linda Lavin, Ann Moring, and Demoy Shilling.
In August, the Betsy Jacaruso Studio & Gallery in the Courtyard in Rhinebeck will host an exhibit of sample artwork by each of the participating at the Art Studio Views with a kickoff event on August 20. Though many people hope to attend all open studios over the two-day Labor Day weekend, it’s extremely ambitious to try to do all, Hess told me. Visiting the ASV exhibition in August at the Betsy Jacaruso Gallery will give visitors a good overview of each artist.
Art Studio Views represents artists working in four locations across the Hudson Valley: Hyde Park, Red Hook, Rhinebeck, and Tivoli. Though the studios themselves are the focus of the Art Studio Views Tour, meandering through the rolling hills and quaint towns that dot the Hudson valley provide plenty of opportunities to explore other summer attractions. Bright yellow Art Studio Views signs point the way of the tour and maps are available at participating galleries.
Are you an artist and interested in being featured in Main Street Magazine? Send a brief bio, artist’s statement, and a link to your work through the arts form on our “arts” page on our website.