Mount Horeb Mail

Luci Shirek watercolorMay 31, 2007

With its rich pastoral backdrop, Mount Horeb and the surrounding countryside have long nurtured the creative spirit and provided a sublime setting for a vibrant and diverse art community. The fruits of those endeavors will be on full display June 8-10 when the inaugural Spring Art Tour offers the public an inside look at the studios, creative processes, and finished product of more than 20 local artists. Entry to all studios is free. Organized by the Mount Horeb Area Arts Association and supported by both the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission and the Overture Foundation, the tour is modeled after the regionally acclaimed Fall Art Tour, which for the last 12 years has showcased studios and galleries in the western part of the state. “There are tons of us tucked in the hills. We thought it would be a good idea if we could become part of the Fall Art Tour, but we were not on that line (between Baraboo and Mineral Point),” recalled Peggy Flora Zalucha, owner of Zalucha Studios, who along with business associate Tamlyn Akins spearheaded the organization of the local tour. “We had the resources here to do it ourselves, so that’s where the idea came from. By not being allowed into the other one, we just did our own thing.” “We started talking to our friends, and they started talking to their friends, and it kind of networked out pretty easily and pretty quickly,” Zalucha continued. “We had an organizational meeting last summer. People expressed a great interest, and it was born.” Zalucha’s home studio on Sunset Lane and Akins’ space outside Black Earth serve as testament to the varied mediums and interactive experiences which will be showcased along the tour route. Zalucha’s permanent collection of water-media florals and still-lives will be on display, and she will demonstrate watercolor techniques each day. Akins watercolors include florals, animal portraits, and naturescapes, but she also works in origami and creates jewelry. She will demonstrate a different medium each day-watercolor on Friday, origami on Saturday, and jewelry on Sunday. “We want to show people what we do, and where we do it,” said Zalucha. “One of the big focuses on this is we really want families to come. It’s really important to us that younger people get to see that you really can grow up and be an artist.” “It’s fun for us to show our stuff, but it’s really important for us to have the public see that being an artist is a very ordinary profession,” she added. “It’s not just sitting in our turret making art and waiting for the world to come.” Locations include artists in the village-Michael Feeney’s Wooden Chicken Studio on Front Street, Chris Miles’ home studio on Fourth St., the works of Kathleen Kay and Pat Klarer at Kaleidescope Marketplace, among others-as well as rural settings in Vermont, Black Earth, Verona and Mazomanie. The works on display will be as varied as the settings. Blue Mounds-based Terri Schmit creates gourd art, which she describes on the tour’s web site as “limitless in their adaptability to any art form.” Schmit will show carving, staining and coloring, and coiling techniques throughout the weekend. Trish Stevenson, of Black Earth, learned her craft from a classically trained English metalsmith, and will display her handcrafted jewelry. Audrey Handler, in Verona, produces glass sculptures she terms “personal statements…meant to be universal comments on life.” Her blowing room, work room, and gallery will be open for tours. “The thing that’s going to be cool about the tour is, you’re going to see all working artists’ studios,” noted ceramic artist Mikel Kelley, whose MK Studios off North Second Street will be included. “You’re not going to see galleries that represent a dozen or more people; you’re going to see the work that the individuals do. It’s not just commercial galleries.” Kelley, who plans to demonstrate raku firing techniques, was born and raised in Mount Horeb. “People like to live out in the country and escape into their work,” he said. “You can do that here. It’s affordable, compared to Madison, but you can still access and plug into the larger scene if you want to. There’s a lot of great work out here.” Zalucha praised the camaraderie and sense of community among local artisans, something she called “inherent” to most of the arts community in general. “I didn’t know some of these artists, and now I do. I think that’s part of the fun,” she said. “The big disappointment that we all have is that because we’re sitting in our studios, we can’t go on the art tour and see everybody else’s.”