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May 24, 2022

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Open Studios Tour: Artists open work spaces to curious

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
5 Photos
Artist Reid Trevarthen speaks with gallery visitors Kate Swavey, left, and Bonnie Waters on Sunday afternoon at the North Bank Artist Gallery in downtown Vancouver during the Clark County Open Studios Tour.
Artist Reid Trevarthen speaks with gallery visitors Kate Swavey, left, and Bonnie Waters on Sunday afternoon at the North Bank Artist Gallery in downtown Vancouver during the Clark County Open Studios Tour. In its second year, the tour takes place during the second weekend in November. Photo Gallery

On the Web

The Clark County Open Studios Tour:


Sure, art lovers can attend gallery shows to see the latest paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works.

But it isn’t often that they can walk into studios around Clark County and observe artists in action.

A few hundred spectators made their way through the North Bank Artist Gallery on Saturday and Sunday, popping in on Rachel Aponte’s studio as she painted a Brazilian shantytown. Her painting was based on a picture she came across.

“It’s a gigantic problem in society,” Aponte said of shantytowns. The makeshift homes aren’t safe. They lack running water and often rely on stolen electricity rerouted from nearby power lines. “Yet, as a painter, it was beautiful,” she added.

Her workspace has a colorful rug on the floor, shelves packed with art supplies and magazines, and walls covered in her work, mostly portraits of women.

On the Web

The Clark County Open Studios Tour:

<a href="http://www.ccopenstudios.org">www.ccopenstudios.org</a>

She was just one artist participating in the Clark County Open Studios Tour. During the weekendlong event, 50 artists around the county opened their studios to the public and answered their questions. It was the second year for the event, which takes place the second weekend in November.

Visitors on the tour were given a map to all the studios, stretching as far north as La Center and Yacolt and as far east as Camas. Twenty-three of the artists were new to the event, while 27 had participated last year, event director Jennifer Williams said.

Next door to Aponte at North Bank, Michael Smith stood in his studio Sunday afternoon, surrounded by several paintings of birds: hummingbirds trying to feed from the mouthpiece of an antique telephone, ravens huddling around a rag doll and a robin attempting to pull a pin from a grenade.

Smith, who also creates charcoal drawings and block prints, sold several pieces of art during the Open Studios Tour.

“There’s something about allowing the public to come into your studio space,” Smith said. “People want to talk to you about the art-making process. … I love the connections and I love the discussions. I love talking about art.”

Visitors to the Open Studios Tour met artists who use a variety of inspirations and techniques.

Tom Relth’s studio included a wall-length painting of a wooded scene inspired by forests near a tributary of the East Fork of the Lewis River. Mary Alred’s studio displayed a number of her still-life paintings. In his workspace, Reid Trevarthen showed visitors how he pieced together art by using tiny bits of paper he cut from a collection of National Geographic magazines.

Using his computer, Trevarthen places a grid over a black-and-white image he wants to recreate. His canvas has a larger version of the grid that he attaches his magazine cuttings to. One recent piece of his art is a 12-by-12-inch portrait of his sister.

“Fascinating,” Sue Wilson of Vancouver said as she learned about Trevarthen’s process.

“It’s meditative too,” Trevarthen said. “It’s a stress reliever.”

He said the Open Studios event helps people realize that they too could create art. Seeing artists in their element demystifies the process.

Wilson said she went on the studio tour with her partner because they both love art, and because “we thought it would be a great idea to be exposed to so many artists on our turf.”

In addition to serving as an educational experience for the public, director Williams said, the event also helps strengthen the local artist community. She has a painting studio on a dead-end road in Ridgefield, where about 150 visitors, including guests from Portland, came to visit her during Open Studios.

“We’ve been invisible, and this is the one thing that links us together,” Williams said.

Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

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