No one can accuse the Art League of Henderson County of having remained idle during the thick of the pandemic. In September, the greatly expanded group hosted its first fiber-focused show, and this month, it resumes its popular driving event, formerly the Henderson County Open Studio Tour, under the new brand Fall for Art Open Studio Tour.
“We have more than 65 artists participating, and 31 one of them are new members,” reports League Director Diane Dean, who’s also a painter. The changing demographic is significant: Since the League last hosted the studio tour, in 2019, group membership has increased from 70 to 225, thanks to a big influx of newcomers to the area.
It’s not just membership that has gained new dimensions. While the League was heavy on 2-D art for years, today sculptors, woodworkers, potters, and fiber artists are represented in large numbers. Partnerships with new galleries, such as Art on 7th, and grants to expand existing programs, such as the ArtScape banner initiative, are all part of the boom.
Dean, who worked in technology before retiring, also mentions implementing an “organizational management software environment.” Digital recordkeeping, she says, has greatly streamlined marketing efforts.
On the low-tech end, “we also now have over 30 plein-air painters meeting weekly,” she adds.
Those outdoor painters won’t be taking their easels to local mountaintops from Oct. 21-23, though. Along with ceramicists, glassmakers, jewelry designers, and fiber artists, Henderson County painters working in every conceivable subgenera will welcome visitors to their studios, ready to “describe and demonstrate the long process of creation,” as event chair Shannon Pagano notes in a press statement. “Meeting artists at work is a very different experience from viewing art in a museum or gallery where only the finished work is on display,” says Pagano.
That said, many participants will have work for sale. The Fall for Art Open Studio Tour is newly supported by the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority, which has officially recognized the area as a“significant arts destination,” says Dean.
Fall for Art Open Studio Tour, a self-guided event, features visits with up to 75 artists and happens Friday Oct. 21 through Sunday, Oct. 23. Studio hours and days vary, and are listed in the guide maps available at the Henderson County Visitor Center (201 South Main St.), at local galleries, and at each participating studio. The tour is free. For more information, see artleaguehvl.org.