Art includes jewelry, glass, paintings, metalwork, sculptures and more
OAKHURST – It’s shaping up to be a perfect weekend for Sierra Art Trails, celebrating 10 years of the Yosemite Foothills Open Studio Tour.
This much-anticipated event draws hoards to the mountain area each year, to see local artists and art featured in homes, studios and galleries in eastern Madera and Mariposa counties. This year, the popular self-guided tour takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-7. Show sites are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.For an $18 donation, visitors receive a special catalog, which is their “ticket for two” for the event. It includes a list of 108 participating artists, photographs of their work, and maps to direct art lovers to the locations they choose.
Visitors will be treated to demonstrations, and works of art will be for sale. Catalogs are available at galleries and businesses in Bass Lake, North Fork, Oakhurst and other areas, and at the Yosemite Sierra Visitor’s Bureau, 40637 Highway 41 in Oakhurst.
People are invited behind the scenes to see fine art and fine crafts in the making and to connect with the artists and artisans who create the work. Participants’ work includes painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, fiber arts, woodcarving, glass and jewelry.
Artist Jonathan “Jon” Bock is owner/operator of Williams Gallery West on Gallery Row in Oakhurst, 40982 Highway 41, and an originator of Sierra Art Trails. He says it grew from a question posed to local citizens: “How can our thriving community of artists benefit our community as a whole?”
The answer was an open studio tour, and Bock admits he could not have done it without co-founder Ellen Hurst in 2003. He still appreciates the essential collaborative nature of the show.
“I love the feeling that there are hundreds of people scattered throughout the area working toward a common goal to make the show a success, Bock said.”
The biggest challenge is coordinating 100-plus artists at over 50 locations, Bock said. The show takes a full year to develop and catalog production is tricky.
“Every detail needs to be correct … thousands of pieces of data that make up the book,” he said. “We could not produce the show without a dedicated group of volunteers who step up and do the work that needs to be done.”
Watercolor and pastel artist Ginny Burdick has participated in Sierra Art Trails from the start.
“My studio was completed one week before the first Art Trails 10 years ago. I have several artists who will be here and we are excited to see their work,” she said.
Metal smith Merlyn Whited creates thematic jewelry from collector beads, found objects, semi-precious stones and other materials.
“I have many shows throughout the year, but I have to admit, this is my favorite event,” Whited said.
Painter Charlotte Hoffman has a tip for new enthusiasts.
“The idea is not to see every artist but only those of which you have an interest or the mediums you like or are curious about. I’d consult the catalog … then decided who I want to see,” she said.
In an average year, Sierra Art Trails generates approximately $50,000 in sales for local artists, and an estimated $100,000 in revenue for local businesses and service providers. Organizers estimate more than $12,000 has been donated to local schools, nonprofits and student artists.
“In 2008 we established a public art fund, and will be installing our first piece of public art at Gallery Row in Oakhurst this year: a kinetic sculpture created by Chris Sorensen, Fresno’s man of steel,” Bock said.
Participating artists do share one common problem, explains photographer Franka Mlikota Gabler.
“I would love to see the work of other photographers, both well known and emerging ones. I want to see more,” Gabler said.
For more information, visit www.sierraarttrails.org