By Eva Potter
Interested in a free artistic tour filled with scenic country roads, charming towns, quaint bistros and show stopping art? This weekend, feel the stress melt away and immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty on your self-guided cruise of Cattaraugus County and the Seneca Nation of Indians as you visit homes, studios and businesses on the fifth annual Routes to Art open-studio artists’ tour.
On May 19-20, from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., artists all over the county will welcome visitors to share their love of art. Take a studio tour, get to know the artist, and view and buy incredible art from 45 of the many talented, local artists. Visit one of the many hub locations and see the work of several artists in one convenient place. You’ll be rewarded with a greater appreciation of the arts when you see stunning paintings, jewelry, painted porcelain, woodcarving, pottery, stained glass, sculpture, beadwork and more.
Routes to Art is brought to you by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council and received a recognition of achievement as the 2009 winner of the prestigious Tourism of Excellence Award in Cultural Heritage from the New York State Travel & Vacation Association.
Past tour participants have been delightfully surprised by the hidden talents of this region richly textured by an interesting mix of cultures. Seasonal Ellicottville resident Andrea Siwiec loved exploring new towns on past RTA weekends.
She said, “All of the artwork was so unique and beautiful, and there was something for everyone’s tastes. I bought pottery, stained glass, watercolor art, jewelry and even high-end oil paintings. The artists were so warm and welcoming; they were open and proud to talk about their artwork and share their inspirations.”
Wood artist Keith McKale, who will be showing at the Ellicottville Memorial Library, believes Routes to Art displays a broad variety of professional and quality art forms that are available in a very small and beautiful area of Western New York.
Subheading for Section 2 – Routes to Art Offers Rare Glimpse into the Secret World of Artists
“Routes to Art is a tremendous opportunity for visitors to our region to experience the quality of artwork that is produced exclusively by the artists in this region.” said artist Keith McKale. “It is an opportunity for the visitor to not only be exposed to a variety of art, but a very nice opportunity to see our beautiful countryside, towns, and the historical county sites of our area. For the artist it is an opportunity to display our work, in the setting that we work in at our studios, and a tremendous opportunity to promote the arts in Cattaraugus County!”
Joanne Tanner of Hamburg, who has taken the RTA tour the past two years, said, “I love supporting Routes to Art since they are our local artists.” Each year, she passes out brochures to as many people as possible.
It looks like it’s time to load up the van with friends and family – yes, kids love this adventure-filled event – and start exploring. As you’re driving, look for the red vertical Routes to Art banners, as well as large lawn signs with the Routes to Art logo, placed in front of studios and sponsoring locations to help you find the artists you want to meet.
If you prefer, grab a brochure and map out your weekend. Be sure to include some wiggle room for stops in charming towns and villages. Browse through shops in Ellicottville, hunt for antiques in Great Valley, sample gourmet delights in Cattaraugus, stop at a farmer’s market along the way, enjoy an espresso in Allegany and linger to enjoy the nightlife. Then sink into a cozy bed at a full-service hotel or bed & breakfast at the end of a satisfying day of artistic inspiration.
Anne Conroy-Baiter, executive director of CCAC, commented, “Routes to Art is one of those rare experiences that after you do it the first time, you think to yourself, ‘Now why haven’t I done that before?’ This year we have eight new artists joining our ranks, keeping the tour fresh, and balanced by a steady core of artists who have participated every year. I’m happy to say that the overall quality and displays are increasing every year and the arts council is really proud of the tour we’ve put together for 2012.”
Not only that, but each time you visit an artist’s studio and sign in you are automatically entered into a raffle drawing for three original pieces of art. You could win a print of Robin Zefers Clark’s watercolor painting, “Diving Glory,” showing sunflowers in all their splendor; Lisa Conklin’s “Blue Moon,” a whimsical decorative pottery piece of a mischievously grinning moon; or Kristina McLeod’s hand-beaded blackberry necklace and dangling earrings. The more artists you visit, the more chances to win.
While Travis Bowman lived in the area, he experienced the RTA tour and said it was “a great way to the see the art and the hills of Western New York.” As an engineer for Dresser-Rand, he recognized the technical and groundbreaking value of art. “Most of the world’s greatest inventions are predicated on some artistic piece,” he explained. “Thus the support of art is vital to furthering our evolution.”
Make an investment in your personal development. So, fill up your gas tank and begin exploring the inner workings of the art world! The rewarding return will be worth its weight in fabulous fine art and you will arrive home richer for the experience.
The Cattaraugus County Arts Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has served the greater Cattaraugus County region for more than 10 years with quality arts programs and services. CCAC is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts and by members and donors. For more information, visit www.myartscouncil.net.
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. Download a printable brochure complete with map and artist descriptions at www.routestoart.com, stop at any studio location for a free copy, or call the CCAC office at (716) 372-7455.
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.