I visited several studios in Saugerties Artists Studio Tour today. I don’t know if the studios I visited just happened to be great ones, or if they represent the high standard this tour has come to be known for. I had a great time. One of the artists I visited is Barbara Bravo, a veteran potter and master gardener, and the organizer extraordinaire of the studio tour.
I introduced myself to Barbara two days ago at the tour’s reception at the magnificent Opus 40. I had heard from many people that the Saugerties tour is a cut above the rest, in terms of organization, exposure, promotion, and sales. They are a perennial recipient of DCAC grant, for which we are applying this year, so I had many questions.
Despite the evening being her big reception and my rather forceful approach, she answered my questions generously, and gave me much more in advice and inspiration. Two things she said especially struck a chord with me:
1. The secret in having a successful tour is to screen the artists and maintain a high quality in art works.
She and her committee made it clear that they would not include hobbyists. Only artists who are practicing professionals with solid visions were selected to be on the tour.
2. Organizing and planning such a public event is art-making in itself.
This is my opinion exactly, and that is why I’ve been getting more involved in public projects in the last few years. It is obvious that this is a shared perspective among many artists. We belong to a growing number of artists who pursue social practice art, “art around community building.”
Meeting artists like Barbara, and those in the tour, is food for the soul. I am grateful for their effort, their passion, their gift—the gift that we now pass onto others through our festival.