By Bellamy Crawford
The Come to Leicester Studio Tour marks its 17th year on Saturday, August 20, and Sunday, August 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The tour encourages visitors to visit Leicester art studios, meet local artists and experience all that this small community has to offer.
This year, ceramics artist Barbara Hebert is participating in the tour for the fourth time. “I return each year because I love the Leicester area and the people who live there,” she says. “The countryside is beautiful and unspoiled, a perfect setting to appreciate the work of local artists.”
Returning acrylic painter Joe de Sousa’s favorite part of the tour is answering questions about his work. “Conversation and sharing ideas with visitors is always welcome,” says de Sousa, whose work includes landscapes, pet portraits and, more recently, commissioned tribute paintings of first responders caring for members of their communities.
In addition to returning artists, this year’s tour will feature 12 new artists and crafters, some of whom will be opening their home studios to the public for the first time. Mixed-media artist Kim Beller, a first-time participant, will offer works that explore abstract processes, including intuitive painting, art journaling and bookmaking. “There is a special sense of community amongst the talented artists in Leicester,” Beller says. “I’m honored to be a part of this event and community.” Additional newcomers include watercolorist Sara Bell, jewelry maker and goldsmith Doug Canivet and graffiti- and tattoo-inspired ceramicist Brock Flamion.
The Come to Leicester Artist Studio Tour has always been a community effort, with Leicester businesses opening their doors on tour days to welcome customers in to shop, enjoy a meal or pick up picnic supplies. Business sponsors include Grateful Roots Market & Deli, Gossett Grocery, the Salty Goat Grill, and Sawhorse, each offering original menu items with locally sourced ingredients. For regionally sourced and handcrafted beverages, visit Noble Cider or Addison Farms Vineyard.
The tour experience includes a self-directed driving circuit. Visitors can drive through some of the most iconic rural landscapes in Western North Carolina. “Winding roads pass through working farms, antique barns and farmhouses,” says Hebert. “Large fields open up to a backdrop of forested mountains. Some tour stops are in the mountains themselves, and others are tucked away on small forested back roads. On tour days, each stop is clearly marked, and inspiring, unique artworks along with welcoming local artists are waiting for you at every destination.”
The wide range of artistic styles and mediums represented highlights the diversity of artists in WNC. The tour offers art enthusiasts and collectors an opportunity to appreciate works by artists who are exhibiting outside the many well-known galleries and art centers in our area. “In doing so, visitors on the tour will realize the number of highly talented and skilled artisans who live and work in small mountain communities like Leicester,” says Hebert.
To learn more about the Come to Leicester Studio Tour, to view the self-directed tour driving map or to view examples of participating artists’ works, visit ComeToLeicester.org.