By Heather Carroll
Visitors from near and far are preparing to hit the road on May 17 and 18 for the seventh annual Routes to Art (RTA) open studio tour to explore the hidden talents that Cattaraugus County has to offer, including many Ellicottville area artists.
This year, the self-guided driving tour includes 42 artists from across the region and truly offers something for everyone, whether visitors plan to spend the full weekend traveling the back roads or just an hour dropping in on a few select artists. Artwork will be available for purchase in a range of price points and many accept debit/credit cards.
The RTA open studio event features artists located across the county, many showing in their own homes and studios, and others organized in community hubs. Locations are situated in easy driving loops to improve access and allow visitors to explore as many artists as possible. Tour attendees will find artists grouped in and around the Cattaraugus and East Otto area, the Ellicottville region, and the city of Salamanca.
The Ellicottville area boasts a large number of artists this year, with hub locales at the Tamarack Club at Holiday Valley, the Ellicottville Public Library, and Mill St. Studio, along with numerous home studio locations. Stained glass lovers are in for a treat this time around with three glass artists on the tour. If painting is the medium you prefer, be sure to stop for a visit with Todd Plough and Betty Meierjurgen showing on Rockwell Ave. And don’t miss the studio of watermedia artist Sean Huntington and mixed media artist Patricia Eckstrom, who are hosting Copley Master painter, Mikel Wintermantel at the Town Center.
“This is my first time in Routes to Art. I always loved visiting the artists in their studios. I was amazed at the variety and the level of craft of all the artists living amongst the hills of Cattaraugus County,” said Wintermantel. “Having them closer together and in groups this year should make it easier to see a lot more for the visitors over the weekend.”
Eckstrom said she continues to participate in the annual tour because she appreciates the local support for her growing body of work.
“Going on the road is exciting, but the work needs to have a sense of place. I love transforming day-to-day work space into a real gallery for a weekend. I love the holiday sale, too!” she said, referring to the annual Routes to Art Holiday Sale to be held at Holiday Valley in November this year.
In the northern part of the county, attendees will enjoy a wide variety of work in the villages of Gowanda and Cattaraugus, and nearby in East Otto. Always a popular stop on the tour, the hub in the center of Cattaraugus features four artists in one location and includes pottery from Anne Mormile, beaded textiles by Eileen Weishan, paintings from Dawn Lombardi and photography from Michael Weishan. Close by in East Otto, visitors can watch Elliott Hutten create fantastic works on her pottery wheel at Hog-Shed Studio Pottery.
For those visiting the southern part of the county, be sure to travel through Salamanca to enjoy an excellent selection of artwork. Visitors with an eye for detail should be sure to stop at Chris Stark’s studio to admire her painted porcelain work, and the intricate paintings and jewelry of fellow artist, Jennifer Miller. If Seneca art and culture is what you’re searching for, the hub location at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites will host traditional basket makers, Penelope Minner and Holly John, along with fantastic beadwork and jewelry from Mary Jacobs and Kristina McLeod.
Artist studios will be open for RTA weekend from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on May 17–18 and, as always, the event is free and open to the public. Brochures will be available that weekend at all business sponsors and artist studios.
For more information about the Routes to Art program, full profiles of all 42 participating artists, as well as a printable map and brochure, please visit www.routestoart.com or call the Cattaraugus County Arts Council at (716) 372-7455.
The Cattaraugus County Arts Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has served the greater Cattaraugus County region for more than 15 years with quality arts programs and services. CCAC is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts and by members and donors. For more information, see www.myartscouncil.net.