An artist's studio often is his or her place of final refuge, a secret lair where the creative process is allowed to flow unabated until the final product is revealed after days, months or even years of behind-the-scenes labor.That accepted truth is what makes this weekend's Durango Open Studios, vol. I, such a pleasant surprise. For the first time, more than 30 artists (at last count - the total seems to grow by the day) will pull back the curtain to reveal the easels, canvases, kilns and wheels that are the machinery behind the artistic process. It's the brainchild of local artist and art lover Crystal Hartman, who began gauging interest in a studio tour in January.
"When I started calling artists I was thinking if seven people did it, I'd be stoked," Hartman said.
Durango Open Studios is not to be confused with a walk, which is why Hartman spread it over two days. Some studios are in town, but the tour visits private homes as far west as Rafter J (Jane Mercer) and as far east as Lemon Reservoir (Adele Kurtz).
Several artists, notably a Bayfield contingent and a handful whose private work spaces are too small to accommodate even one or two visitors, opted to pool their resources for inclusion on the tour. Red House Gallery owner Kinsee Morlan organized 11 such artists for The Co-Lab at Three Springs, and Rachel Alber, Bradley Kachnowicz, B. Summer Lynch and Elizabeth Somers will set up a weekend base at Wildflower on Main Avenue.
It would take a map to make sense of all 22 locations, as Hartman fortunately was aware. User-friendly maps of the studios are available at each stop and a handful of local businesses, and she also collaborated with friend Katie Rankin on an informative booklet profiling the host artists.
"I hope people will have the artists sign the books when they visit. It's a piece of Durango," Hartman said.
"This whole project is about community and inspiration, and I just want people to get out there and get inspired. Every studio is so different, and before I would usually never go into other people's. It's a private sanctuary. But working on this has changed that, and it's so cool to see what makes every artist unique."