Deadline approaching for Artist at Work Studio Tour

SARANAC LAKE – Saranac Lake ArtWorks has put out a call to artists for the 2014 Artist at Work Studio Tour.

This year’s eighth-annual event allows visitors to take a self-guided tour of artist’s studios throughout the area. The deadline for artists to sign up is April 30.

Artist at Work Studio Tour Coordinator Cris Winters said the tour’s organizers have been borrowing ideas from similar events elsewhere and applying them to the Artist at Work Tour.

Perhaps the most noticeable change this year will be a division of the event’s timeline. Instead of the traditional, three-day event in September, it will instead consist of one weekend in September-the 27 and 28-and one date on Sunday, July 20. Participation in the July tour is optional, but artists must have their studios open during the September dates.

“Some artists feel like three days is a really long stretch to be confined to their studios,” Winters said. “We’re thinking we could get better numbers if we did it during the busy summer season. This is kind of an experiment, but if it works really well, we could end up doing one day in July, one day in August and one day in September.”

One of the main goals of the event is to draw visitors to the region by giving them an opportunity to meet artists in their studio spaces. The connection gives attendees insight into each artist’s work, and enables them to see face to the pieces.

With artists in locations as far-flung as Jay and Paul Smith’s, visiting each studio involves a lot of driving. Winters said she’d like to centralize the tour more, which would benefit both the artists and the visitors.

“In the past, we’ve had these artist outposts where we let artists set up these mobile studios so they can demonstrate and show their work to people,” Winters said. “We want to cut back on those and instead have one larger outpost right in Saranac Lake. We think it will be easier for us to get the logistics down so they work for the artists, and we also think a bigger concentration of artists is better for visitors. It’s kind of a one-stop deal to see all these artists, and a lot of people are already in Saranac Lake for this, so it seems like an optimal location.”

The location for the outpost is yet to be determined, but Winters said some artists have already expressed interest in it. She said it will require at least four artists to make it work, and hopes more will get on board as the idea continues to develop.

“One of the reasons many of the artists do this is they live pretty far away, and they don’t necessarily have other artists near them,” Winters said. “The visitors tend to go where they can see more than one artist.”

The key to attracting visitors isn’t just opening the doors to artists’ studios – it’s letting them know where to go. The online guide for this year’s tour will be smartphone and tablet compatible, and event dates and information will be listed on numerous online calendars. The emphasis doesn’t just help the event “get with the times,” it’s also a cost effective way to distribute the information.

This year’s tour brochures will include a map and will also include information on the event’s sponsors.

There is also a requirement to participate one of two three-hour workshops prior to the event. Winters said the intent is not to create hurdles to jump through, but to facilitate information sharing between artists on topics like price points, how to get a sales tax identification number for selling work and how to promote their work.

“Part of what ArtWorks is about is helping artists become more successful financially,” Winters said. “I have this big, grand plan to help build and grow an arts community in the area. My head is just kind of bulging with ideas.”