By Jim Sullivan
---- — More than 70 painters, ceramists, photographers, printmakers, fiber artists, jewelry makers, glass artists and musical performers will invite the public in this weekend for the 17th annual Amesbury Open Studio Tour, giving visitors a chance to find things in Amesbury they never knew were there.
“It’s going to be a really exciting weekend,” said Carley Monell, co-chairwoman of the Amesbury Cultural Council. “It’s great to see people out just walking the streets in Amesbury, stopping into the various artist studios, and it brings a lot of people downtown, which is very exciting.”
The free, self-guided tour gives people a chance to visit the creative spaces of local craftspeople and to buy local art directly from the source.
“It’s just amazing to see the diversity of art,” said Monell, who is working on her eighth tour. “It’s also a great opportunity to just be inspired. That’s a huge piece of it. I know that I am inspired when I am here, walking through and seeing people creating and the creativity that’s present in the community. It’s just unbelievable.”
At first glance, Amesbury might not seem like an artist’s haven, but Monell said nothing could be further from the truth.
“We’ve seen a huge (influx) of the arts in Amesbury,” she said. “14 Cedar St. didn’t exist when I moved to Amesbury eight years ago. It’s a really cool place, you wouldn’t know because it is a really unassuming mill building from the outside, but you have your traditional artists, your painters, sculptors, media arts, jewelry, and that building is also home to other types of businesses, too.”
Ways of Color owner and stained glass artist Leslie Doherty of Pond Street’s Potlatch Studios & Gallery has been working as an artist in Amesbury for the past 12 years and enjoys letting people into her creative world.
“We try to welcome in the community,” Doherty said. “I think what sets us apart from other studios is the fact that we like to draw out the hidden artist to be able to come into our studio for the studio tour.”
Also a teaching artist, Doherty said she has had people come in during the tour and end up taking a lesson from her.
“We really are a teaching studio,” Doherty said of Potlatch. “(And) the studio tour brings together the artists in the community. People wander the streets to tap into what the arts are in Amesbury, (and) the studio tour gives (artists) all an opportunity to know that we are all out there. So we can be a resource to each other. The studio tour is like the umbrella, and we’re all underneath it.”
This year will mark a first for the tour, as a free trolley will ferry visitors to the more out-of-the-way destinations. A communal display space will also be available for artists at the Nicholas Costello Transportation Center, and there will be many surprises along the way.
“Expect the unexpected,” Monell said with a laugh. “Year after year, when you go to the tour, you hear the same thing being said, ‘You know, I had no idea this was here.’ So it’s really an incredible opportunity to come and see Amesbury in all of its glory.”
If you go
What: 2013 Amesbury Open Studio Tour
When: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Also on Saturday, an after-party will be held from 5 to 8 at Jon Mooers Artists Gallery.
More information: A free trolley will transport guests to different locations. Maps and schedules are available at the Nicholas Costello Transportation Center and www.amesburystudiotour.com.
Nicholas Costello Transporation Center, 68 Elm St.
Potlatch Studios & Gallery, 34 Pond St.
439 Photography, second floor, 21 Water St.
Jon Mooers Artists Gallery, 19 Main St.
Rock Church, 146 Main St.
Amesbury High School, 5 Highland St.
Artist’s Muse, 9 Water St.
Riverwalk Gallery & Healing Arts, 32 Elm St.
Photography by Nannette, 28 E. Greenwood St.
Gessner Fine Art Studio, 30 E. Greenwood St.
Cedar Street Studios, 14 Cedar St.
Fullmoon Studio Clayworks, 4 Liberty St., Merrimac
Purple Sage Pottery, 3 Mechanic St., Merrimac