Art event remains true to its roots


By Tyra Sutak For the Camera

Posted:   09/29/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT

Updated:   10/04/2012 03:16:21 PM MDT


Bill Border discusses his artwork with Jane Saltzman at the 2011 Open Studios Fall Artist Tour. (Courtesy photo:

If you goWhat: Open Studios Fall Artist Tour

Where: Various studios in the Boulder area

When: Noon-6 p.m., Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 13-14

Cost: Free and open to the public

Info: http://openstudios.org

(This story was updated on Oct. 4, 2012, to add the website for OpenArts.)

Let’s rewind to 1994, when the Boulder art scene was seamlessly thriving in a fantastically disorganized way. Members of the tight-knit art community were working solo at the time, straining to garner attention and generate sales for their handmade designs.

It was during this time that Gary Zeff got the notion that those artists needed an avenue to gain recognition in their communities. So he conceived what would become the Open Studios Fall Artist Tour.

A Boulder wood-turner, Zeff reached out to the local art community with his idea and gathered 84 artists to participate in the initial tour. He stipulated that each artist must offer an educational element, and he got funding from sponsors such as Ideal Market and Allegro Coffee to stage the event in the first two weekends of October 1995.

Fast forward to 2012.

More than 100 artists are finishing up preparations to host art enthusiasts from noon to 6 p.m. on two weekends, Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 13-14. Professional artists excelling in nearly every artistic medium will be offer live demos, show off their workspace and attempt to sell their artwork.

“The event remains very similar to the initial tour in 1995. Buy a map, go around town to visit studios and engage with the artists. It’s about people engaging with artists in their studios,” said Bill Capsalis, executive director of OpenArts, which was an offshoot of Zeff’s original concept. OpenArts, a Boulder-based nonprofit, also includes the Open Arts Fest and the Clementine Studio, which provides experimental art classes for students of all ages.

Although a map isn’t required to partake in the Open Studios Fall Artist Tour, Capsalis believes it provides the best experience. The maps show each participating artist’s studio location and are organized by medium and studio number, thus making it easier for art lovers to seek out and find the exact style of artwork that will please their palate. Maps can be purchased from OpenArts ( for $10 (plus shipping and handling) and at various retail locations in Boulder (also available on the website). All proceeds from map sales go toward the production of the Fall Artist Tour.

OpenArts will kick off this year’s fall tour with a reception in the Canyon Gallery at the Boulder Public Library (1001 Arapahoe Ave.) from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Artwork by each of the artists participating in this year’s fall tour are currently on display in the Canyon Gallery and will continue to be featured in the library through Oct. 14. Entry to the opening reception is free of charge and an assortment of snacks will be served.

“The artists exhibit at the library is gorgeous this year,” Capsalis said. “It’s a big public event, and the artists are really involved.”

An estimated 1,000 art enthusiasts attended the opening reception at the library last year, and a similar crowd is again expected at this year’s event.

Capsalis recognizes the hard work it takes for the artists to prep their studios and ready themselves for the throngs of people who will step through their doors during those four days in October. He also knows how beneficial the tour can be for those artists.

“There’s a serious business element as well as an educational element going on,” Capsalis said. “People are buying directly from the artist, and the artist can talk about the piece and take commissions, as well.”

He also sees benefits for art enthuisasts:

” . . . It’s a perfect opportunity to engage with people in the community and even artists doing amazing work in their own neighborhood — plus it’s just an enjoyable way to spend a fall day.”