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Studio Tour puts Oxford 'on the map'

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8th Annual Oxford Studio Tour

Twenty studios, 41 artists – all in Oxford County. You can meet the southwestern Ontario artists May 2nd and May 3rd during the 8th annual Oxford Studio Tour at locations around the county, 10-5 p.m. each day.

“You are invited to visit 20 studios located throughout Oxford County where you will meet 41 different artists, watch demonstrations, and experience a world of creativity,” said participating artist Sue Goossens.

Five of the studios are located in the City of Woodstock with 10 of the artists centrally located in Oxford County, surrounded by studios in Zorra Township, East Zorra-Tavistock and Blanford-Blenheim on the north side of Hwy 401, the Town of Ingersoll to the west, and Norwich Township, South-West Oxford Township and the Town of Tillsonburg south of the 401.

"It's great to have more than one artist at a location," said Goossens, who will be exhibiting watercolours in her home gallery (165548 New Road, Otterville) with Rhonda Franks, who has realistic wildlife and nature paintings in acrylic and watercolours.

"I think there are four brand new artists on the tour, and some who haven't been on the tour for a few years that have come back. All the artists will have new work to display. You have to have it fresh, you have to have it current."

Goossens said there will be a variety of original art on the tour including photography, jewellery, hand woven, fibre arts, abstracts, oils, acrylics, mixed media, pen and ink, watercolours, and encaustic.

"Some of the people are quite well known across Ontario, and some internationally. It's not an amateur tour – it's very professional. You'll see a lot of people on the tour who exhibit outside the area, like Toronto, Stratford, in the Muskoka area. This brings it all together in this area, and I think it shows the quality of the art on the tour."

Attendance is free. Guests who drive from site to site can enjoy a leisurely drive while taking in the local landscape, or stopping at a local restaurant en route. Watch for red flags and signs, which help direct you to each studio.

Art on display will be available for purchase. But the Oxford Studio Tour is more than just 'selling art,' said Goossens.

"You want people to come in, look, and enjoy. And if they're interested in looking, you try to educate them a little on your medium and what motivates you and inspires you. Most of the artists are quite eager to talk about their process.

"It's quite innovative what some people do," said Goossens, citing one example in Stop No. 10's Heather MacIntosh, who uses reclaimed objects like porcupine quills to make mixed media collages.

Visit the website www.oxfordstudiotour.ca to preview the works of participating artists and print off a map. Maps are also available at the Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg (Bridge Street), the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre, the Woodstock Art Gallery and Tourism Oxford (580 Bruin Blvd., Woodstock).

"I do encourage people to go online, check and see what they'd like to see. Some people might not want to look at abstracts. Some people might not want anything for their walls, they just want pottery. Or sculptures. Some might just want jewellery.

"I think the website is a really good resource to plan your day. If I was going to do the tour, that's what I would do. Sometimes it's just more of a geographical thing – some might do just south of 401. If you're driving from Sarnia, you've got a purpose. Hopefully you've looked at where you want to go.

"We draw visitors from all over the place. People on my mailing list have been coming from Sarnia, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Guelph. We do advertise it outside the area."

Nine of the 41 artists – Jason Puhr, Valerie Zadow, Deb Beard, Earle Barr, Fran Barr, Maggie Robinson, Tracy Reesor and Tabitha Verbuyst – will be exhibiting at the Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg... location No. 9 on the map.

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