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The treasure trail of art — ARTTOUR returns to unite art-lovers with artists and their studios, hopefully open some new eyes to exhibits

The annual ARTTOUR open studios returns Saturday and Sunday, featuring area artists and studios opening doors for the public to get a first-hand look at some new creations. 

The event was created by artist Kathleen O’Brien, who has been the lead organizer for four years, but decided to pass the wand this year. “I wanted others to have a chance to lead,” O’Brien says. Local artist John Dixon happily obliged to take the lead. 

“When Kathleen decided to step aside as coordinator, and Shaker Village declined to participate, I took the baton to help maintain the annual event’s continuity, and the momentum that Kathleen had so ably built,” Dixon says. 

O’Brien says she created the event from a desire to have an artist community — to bring artists together to present a common event. Artists need a chance to talk to the public about their processes, materials and tools, she says — and to answer questions for those who may have never been to an exhibit. 

“Also, to give back to the community at large, an annual event people can look forward to and to grow commerce in our area,” she says. “And a way to literally put us on the map.” 

Dixon says he also wanted to bring new destinations into the tour, balancing the Boyle-Mercer footprint over the weekend, since there were only two Boyle locations last year. 

“The 2016 ARTTOUR now offers visitors the most contrasting range of experiences — from rural settings to urban sites, including three galleries, a unique eatery and, of course, the open studios of professional artists. 

O’Brien says each year, more and more people turn out for the tour.

“What’s surprising is we are attracting visitors from nearby states. Sometimes they find us because they are traveling and see our maps we’ve placed … Repeat visitors thrill me. I love to hear ’See you next year!’ from fans,” she says. “I love having visitors and seeing them light up as they are exposed to art — and the artist.” 

The following is the lineup of venues and artists, taken from ARTTOUR’s brochure.

Kathleen O’Brien Studio, near Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, welcomes visitors into a light-filled space to see a display of collages that appear dimensional by fusing painting, drawing and botanicals. O’Brien also creates jewelry using ancient, antique, vintage and handmade beads. She will offer greeting cards, giclée prints, tote bags, mugs and pillows derived from her art, along with specials in anticipation of the holidays. Guest artists include Michelle Hayden, who creates sculpture by fusing photography and encaustic art, plus culinary artist Sherman Fracher of Abiding Grace Farm and Artisan Foods. ARTTOUR founder O’Brien and husband Greg Orth will encourage you to stroll the fields and forest of their Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary, which includes an official Monarch Waystation. kathleen-obrien.com; michellehaydenfineart.com; abidinggracefarm.com

Panther Totem Blessings, near the joining of the Kentucky and Dix Rivers, is where Judy Bagan grows and processes herbs for both culinary and medicinal uses. She will host five guest artists: Sally Angela Schlegel, an equestrian artist who uses vibrant color to paint horses and auras; Marydale Coleman, who creates sewn art pieces from repurposed supplies; MOJO by JO, creative gold and silver jewelry; Paige Prewitt, Kentucky pillows; and Debra A. Rogers, who will demonstrate spinning and card weaving to produce colorful artworks. The gift shop features Bagan’s all-natural lotions. panthertotemblessings.com

At Crosswinds Pottery, about 10 miles west of US 127 in Mercer County, Cynthia Carr displays her functional wheel-thrown pottery, custom lighting and mixed media artwork for the home and garden in a showroom converted from an old tobacco shed. The Crow’s Nest, her large three-bent barn, offers a unique collection of vintage and unique architectural finds. pinterest.com/kypotter1/crosswinds-pottery-lamps

The Arts Council of Mercer County Studio & Gallery, in historic downtown Harrodsburg, will display the work of more than 40 local and regional artists/artisans and invite visitors to relax in this attractive, well-lit space. artscouncilofmercer.com

Artist John Andrew Dixon, in historic downtown Danville, brings exceptional artisanship, as well as 40 years as an award-winning designer and illustrator, to his work as a wood engraver, which requires planned precision, and as a collage artist, which relies on spontaneity. He will demonstrate both and offer original artworks and fine collector prints. Visitors will be offered light refreshments and the opportunity to discuss his creative approach. dixondesign.com/art.html

At the Community Arts Center, more than 40 artists are represented in a national juried exhibit entitled Horizon: Contemporary Landscape, on display in the Grand Hall and Lockhart Gallery, that explores new classic and abstract landscapes through painting, collage, photography, mixed media, cast metal sculpture and video. Displayed upstairs in the Farmers National Bank Gallery is a collaborative project entitled Limited Palette by the Gathering Artists, a local group. They challenged themselves to work within the creative constraint of using only shades and tints of three predetermined hues for this exhibit. communityartscenter.net

Art of Danville is also nearby, where painter/proprietor Allan Crain curates exhibits in his two-story gallery. Featured are more than 30 regional and international artists who work in various media, including oil, acrylic, pastel, collage and photography, plus beadwork jewelry and interior décor pieces. Art of Danville is also a resource for private instruction in painting and giclée printing. artofdanville.com

Grace Café is just two blocks south, Kentucky’s first-of-its-kind nonprofit restaurant, where you’ll find fresh, well-prepared, locally sourced, organic-when-possible food, regardless of ability to pay. Some customers choose to pay a bit more to help others enjoy a nutritious meal in an inviting space. To enhance the dining experience, work by regional artists is displayed. Nick Lacy and guest Lee Ann Paynter will display photographs taken on the streets of Paris. gracecafe.org; nicklacyphotography.com;leeannpaynterphotography.com

Sugar Grove Pottery & Eclectica is just south of downtown Danville, where versatile artist Paul Muth will open his home studio for the weekend event. A Kentucky Crafted juried potter since 1993, he will display and offer his hand-thrown functional pottery, as well as unique block prints and original paintings. facebook.com/SugarGrovePottery.

For more on Sugar Grove, see “Muth to open up Sugar Grove home studio for ARTTOUR guests.”

“Spring Flowers” Kathleen O’Brien

“Spring Flowers” by Kathleen O’Brien

“Bird Bath” Cynthia Carr, Crosswinds Pottery

“Bird Bath” by Cynthia Carr, Crosswinds Pottery

 “JUNKED” by Robert Sandford, an Art of Danville piece

“JUNKED” by Robert Sandford, an Art of Danville piece

“Apparition Rising” John Dixon

“Apparition Rising” John Dixon

arttour map