The typical art show usually involves one or more artists who bring their artwork to a gallery where the public can view it in an optimal setting, and if they like it, make a purchase. Granted, this is a time tested and perfectly good way for an artist to display and market his or her work, it’s also quite one dimensional and not always the best way to fully experience what an artist has to offer.
With that understanding and looking for a way to showcase both the artists at work in their home studios as well as the natural beauty of Cattaraugus County, the staff at the Cattaraugus County Arts Council came up with a unique way to bring them it all together by producing the ‘Routes to Art’ weekend event which has been held every year since 2008.
Routes to Art is an annual two day event which arranges for artists who live in Cattaraugus County and the Seneca Nation to open their homes and studio doors to the public and display their artwork. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, May 18th and Sunday May 19th from 10am to 5pm both days. There are 35 artists who are participating and located in three different areas of the County with 3 artists showing in the Town of Irving, 7 showing in Salamanca, and 25 along a centralize loop which includes Ellicottville, Great Valley, West Valley, Little Valley, Otto and the Village of Cattaraugus.
The idea is for visitors to get a copy of the full color CCAC brochure which includes all three route maps as well as descriptions of the artists and their addresses. With map in hand, they jump in the car and set off to visit whichever artist they choose. Once there, they can watch the artist at work, talk with them and really get to experience what it is they are creating and hopefully make a purchase.
This year, organizers have set out to make things a bit easier for travelers by reordering the route maps and artist locations. Anne Conroy-Baiter is Executive Director of CCAC and described those changes this way, “This year’s tour is focused on the central part of Cattaraugus County, highlighting studios and exhibition spaces in Ellicottville, Salamanca, Little Valley, Cattaraugus, and the Gowanda area. These studios form a nice drivable loop, making it possible to visit more artists each day. In past years visitors found it difficult to make it to all the studios they wanted to visit due in part to the geographic size of the county”. They hope the centralized tours will make it easier for attendees and will increase studio visits for the artists.
With 35 artists to choose from, the only problem may be deciding which ones to visit. If you have a love for paintings you might stop and see the beautiful watercolors of Barbara Fox in Little Valley, Dee Smith at the Ellicottville Library or maybe Judson Brown in West Valley. For photographic art, stop and see Tom Martin at the Tamarack Club at Holiday Valley, or Michael Weishan at the Bank of Cattaraugus in the Village of Cattaraugus. For Native American art, see Antoinette Scott of the Iroquois Doll Makers, and traditional basket maker Penelope Minner at the Seneca nation Library in Allegany. Of course, this is just a small sampling of the exceptional selection of stoneware, porcelain, pottery, wood carvings, bead work and jewelry artisans who will be showing their work.
Another great thing about Routes to Art is that every visitor’s journey can be different. “You can choose studios based on the type of art work you are most drawn to, based on the proximity to where you live, or by just pulling out the map and just taking a chance – We promise, no matter which way you go or who you visit, you won’t be disappointed!” said Conroy-Baiter.
Organizers stress that Routes to Art is a great family-friendly event for art appreciators of all ages. The tour is a perfect family outing and can be a fun adventure for a group of friends or a couple. Many of the studios on the tour are also accessible to those with limited mobility, making it truly open to everyone.
Mentioning that last years attendance numbers were estimated at over 1000 visitors and hopes are that with its rising popularity – that number will be matched or exceeded this year, Conroy-Baiter believes that’s because “Routes to Art offers a unique opportunity to see artists at work, to get an inside look at the creative process, to see the beautiful countryside and to help support our local economy by shopping close to home”
For more information about Routes to Art and to request or print out a brochure, visit www.routestoart.com , or contact Cattaraugus County Arts Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 716-372-7455. Visit the CCAC web site at www.myartscouncil.net