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Ceramics, Photographs and Prints by Olean’s Fine Artists Featured on Routes To Art Open-Studio Tour

by Eva Potter


The anticipation is building … it’s almost time for the fifth annual Routes to Art, a self-guided, open studio artists’ tour. This week’s talent-filled tour takes you on an artistic adventure to the Olean hub to see the exceptional work of five artists.

“What we were blown away most by was the amazing artistic talent that is in each small town! The artistic talent in Cattaraugus County is truly exceptional,” said Andrea Siwiec of Ellicottville. “We loved driving through the small towns and not only getting to know artists but also other small business owners…. It’s become an annual event for us. We look forward to attending routes to art this year and plan on getting an even bigger group of friends to go with this year.”

With such a glowing recommendation, it’s time to hit the road to visit Olean’s five participating RTA artists.

Starting in the lobby of the YMCA on Wayne Street, visit Gratia Brown and Alix Brodeur, who are both master’s degree students studying ceramics at Edinboro University. You’ll find hearth and home a common theme in their unique works.

Brown’s work focuses on “decorative utilitarian object and figurines as a vehicle for personal, narrative imagery.” Her pieces use “the shapes and tools of the domestic home and hearth as metaphors for the inner world of emotions, psychological processes, and spiritual aspirations such as: nourishment, protection, purity, self-sufficiency, envy and fear.”

Intrigued with the stationary vessel, “the one that is used every day but rarely moved,” Brodeur fashions domestic pottery, which “speaks to a love of food and the kitchen.”

She said, “Ceramics provides an opportunity to create powerful silent objects which infiltrate daily life.”

Continue your Olean tour with a short drive down Wayne Street to Fox Financial on North Union Street where you will find Gina Pennock and Alex Derwick, two dynamic fine artists.

Originally from Buffalo, Gina Pennock, an oil painter, watercolor painter, printmaker, and bookmaker, recently moved to the Olean area. When she was at the “6 by 6” show at the Cattaraugus County Arts Council last fall, she was encouraged to participate in RTA this year.

Pennock  said, “I’m really happy down here in the Southern Tier. It’s a great little community of artists and I really enjoy it.” She is hoping to open a papermaking facility in Cattaraugus County.

Alex Derwick’s photorealistic prints and drawings will draw you in with their fine detail. Derwick uses printmaking techniques and meticulous drawing methods to capture character-based interactions.

Seeing all this fantastic art is sure to work up an appetite, so check out the many locally owned restaurants along North Union Street for many mouthwatering specialties.

Continue your Olean excursion back to the west end of Olean and visit Tom Martin at Martin Studios on Cranberry Road. You don’t want to miss his fine art photographs that interpret nature from his viewpoint.

Martin said people have encouraged him to put his personal work out there and, as a result, decided to participate in Routes to Art for the first time. He spends a lot of time canoeing and backpacking with his wife and said that his personal work really reflects his interest in nature.

Have you worked up a thirst? Then unwind from an invigorating day of touring with a steaming cup of espresso and a savory panini from Linger Longer, located a short hop down the street.

“Routes to Art is an exceptional event and an amazing adventure. Whether you are a novice art collector or a seasoned one, there is something to suit everyone’s artistic tastes,” said Siwiec.

For a quick preview, see artwork by all 45 artists at the free Routes to Art exhibit currently hanging through mid-May at the Regina A. Quick Center at St. Bonaventure University.

“The artistic talent in Cattaraugus County is truly exceptional…. We look forward to attending Routes to Art this year and plan on getting an even bigger group of friends to go with this year.” — Andrea Siwiec, Ellicottville

SAVE THE DATE for the ultimate artistic road trip! Take the free Routes to Art self-guided, open studio artists’ tour throughout Cattaraugus County on May 19 – 20 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days. Get a free brochure with map and artist descriptions by visiting, e-mailing or calling (716) 372-7455. Look for colorful banners and signs indicating open artist studios.

Find brochures at these RTA sponsors: American Museum of Cutlery, the Bank of Cattaraugus, Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, Ink Well, Mill Street Gallery and Studios, Murphy’s Wine and Gourmet Shop, Olean Open MRI, Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce, Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, Studio 4 East, Tamarack Club at Holiday Valley, Regina A. Quick Center and the Cattaraugus County Arts Council.


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