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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Explore Artistic Spaces in Bloomington - June 7-8, 2014

Categories: Arts & Culture

"I love to explore the places where people create their art, like being privy to the laboratories of scientists with their workings, formulas, diagrams and mysterious-to-me machines on display. Just this type of opportunity to explore exists in the Bloomington Open Studios Tour on June 7 and 8th. Forty artists will open their doors to any who wish to experience the inner workings of a studio space, to meet and talk with the artists and to see their art, both in-progress and completed, and to have an opportunity to purchase a piece directly from them.

An artist's studio is full of designs and renderings and is usually strewn with curious diverse materials like oily paint, shredded plastic bags, onion-dyed textiles, or torch-cut industrial scrap. Each space varies according to the needs of the maker, sometimes being tightly organized like a Montessori classroom or another an open, retrofitted space with materials, tools, and partially completed works oozing out into the surrounding woods. Myriad tools or mechanisms that assist the artist's making are layered about such as hand-punches for leather, a wood-fired outdoor kiln, hanging from the ceiling gantry devices, a sewing machine or loom, a computer, or a laser-jet cutter.

I had just moved to Bloomington prior to last year's event and thought that this might be the perfect opportunity to check out the art-maker community of my new home. It far exceeded my expectations. Not knowing my way around the city the maps guided me on delightful tours including city walks through Bloomington's architecturally significant BEAD district, tightly knit urban neighborhoods, the outer suburban ring with glorious gardens, and beyond the city into greater Bloomington's famous cascading countryside replete with yellow fields, hilly ravines, and limestone outcroppings. Some of the artists shared work or exhibit space while others worked in complete isolation. As a visitor, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in a dialogue with an artist, to simply listen to an ongoing conversation, or to view quietly and have only an internal relationship with the works of art. I found there was simply not enough time to experience all that I wanted to given the richness of offerings.

One artist showed her narrative daily diaries that took colorful pictorial form in machine quilted collages, another showed fancifully decorative furniture, and another displayed geometric, suspended pieces that juxtaposed brightly-hued fused glass with polished, sculptural steel elements. Yet another had a magnificent vintage letter-press on which the artist printed a range of objects from broadsides and chapbooks to posters and teeshirts, taking an early 20th century technology of communication and using it both as a nostalgic device while making it still relevant. Various painters used traditional watercolor techniques, or improvisational bold gestures in oil paint, or miniature brushed egg tempera in jeweled layers to render landscapes while ceramicists used humble clay to create mugs that fit beautifully in the hand to monumental hand-built sculptures that resembled cairns. Jewelers showed studios on an almost miniature scale, displaying diverse pieces that ranged from expressive connections of found objects to meticulously crafted, hand-sawed or cast silver elements imbedded with gemstones. There was such a broad range of ideas, processes, materials, and techniques this list could go on for pages.

Inspired and amazed by this enormous outpouring of creativity in Bloomington, I determined that I would participate in the 2014 BOST. My husband and I have almost completed the build of our studio/shop and will open it to all of you on June 7th and 8th. My blacksmith and steel fabrication shop is close to completion where I would love to show you some of my wares and sculpture, the glass shop isn't quite up and running yet but examples of torchworked jewelry are here, and another artist who paints birds and landscapes principally with watercolor and sumi ink in the manner of a Chinese brush painting will be displaying her work in our classroom/gallery. Many such duo showings are happening on this year's tour and in addition, some artists will be demonstrating their techniques.

This year's BOST has 40 artists who each will be delighted to talk with you about how their work unfolds, share with you their discoveries, and will value the fresh eyes that you bring to their process. And not so incidentally, there will be treats including the famous thumb-print jelly cookies of one of our artists!"

Open Studios Tour - Luna Song Designs  Michal Ann Carley - Luna Song Designs

Special thanks to our guest blogger, and BOST participant, Michal Ann Carley. With an impressive background painting, working for art museums and as a professor of art and art history, Michal Anne recently relocated to Bloomington. Here, she and her husband maintain Luna Song Designs, which is a teaching studio specializing in forging and fabrication, glass and woodworking. 

Tosha Daugherty

Tosha Daugherty

Tosha was the primary contributor to the B-town Blog during her tenure as content coordinator. Her blogs covered a number of topics, from family activities to outdoor excursions.