This weekend, tap into your inner explorer and head out on a free artistic adventure you’ll never forget. Hit the road and immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty on a self-guided driving tour through Cattaraugus County and the Seneca Nation of Indians on the sixth annual Routes to Art (RTA) open-studio artists’ tour produced by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council (CCAC).
This Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., 35 artists all over the county will welcome visitors to their studios and business locations to share their love of art.
Although it sounds like a lot to cover in one weekend, this year CCAC has made artist locations more accessible to visitors by choosing locations centered around Ellicottville, Salamanca, Little Valley, Cattaraugus and a few outliers in Irving and West Valley.
Customize your driving route to correspond with the type of work you want to see. 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.
Anne Conroy-Baiter, executive director of CCAC, said, “The key to enjoying life in a place like this is to get out and explore. Any hunter or soccer mom will tell you that it’s all about the adventure of being in the elements, sharing an experience. Routes to Art is an exploration, an adventure, and it might be strange for me to say this — it’s not just about the art.”
So load up the van with friends and family — yes, kids love this adventure-filled event, too — 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.
“The best way I’ve found, personally, is to bring a GPS with you just in case, decide where you want to have lunch, have a copilot to handle the map (or smartphone) and to take your time. I like to start at the far north, so at the end of the day we’re close to home,” explained Conroy-Baiter. “My girls and I head out early morning, grab coffee for the trip (donuts for them) and take mostly smaller roads to enjoy the spring scenery. I plan in a little spending money for each of them so they can bring something home. Of course, I bring significantly more spending money for me and I never return home disappointed!”
Although many associate original art with an unaffordable price tag, most, if not all, RTA artists offer items at many different price points. While artists participate with RTA for the sales, of course, RTA also presents an important opportunity to share their work, to enjoy reactions, to tell their story, and it gives them a chance to see and be seen.
As a bonus, you’ll be entered in the RTA raffle drawing each time you sign in at an artist’s location. Prizes include artwork by Karen Fitzpatrick (stained glass candleholder), Jennifer Miller (genuine Tiger’s Eye bead and Argentium sterling silver, chain not included) and Todd Plough (“Allegany Ice Flow,” limited edition print of oil painting). The more studios you visit, the better your odds! Drawing will take place sometime this summer.
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.
You can download a printable brochure complete with map and artist descriptions at www.routestoart.com or stop at any RTA artist location for a free copy.