Gatineau Hills studio tour brings out the chiselers

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by Mark Burgess on September 24, 2009

Carrie Leavoy spins some clay for a bowl or mug. Photo courtesy Robert Moeller.

Carrie Leavoy spins some clay for a bowl or mug. Photo courtesy Robert Moeller.

Twenty-two artists, from Old Chelsea, Quebec to Farrellton, will be opening their studio doors for two weekends, allowing visitors a privileged peak at their wax, wood, pastel and paint creations-in-progress.

For the 21st year, the Chelsea-Wakefield Artists in Their Environment Studio Tour will guide critics, connoisseurs and casual observers through the Gatineau Hills Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4 for a unique and intimate interaction with local artists.

Tour spokesperson and featured artist, Rob Moeller, said the artists using wood make this year’s tour unique. Among them are tour rookie Ross Rooke’s turned bowls, Cheryl Evans’ rustic furniture and what Moeller called Russ Zietz’s  “playful, thought-provoking folk art.”

Zietz, a home-builder by trade, will be featured in the tour for the second year. He began building his own furniture – stuff he considered suitable for the log home he built near Wakefield – before “becoming a little more imaginative with it,” moving on to wood carving and, more recently, framed mixed media works.

Sept. 23 front page

Sept. 23 front page

Zietz said he’s mainly inspired by what he sees in the woods, but he’s also interested in the Group of Seven, Haida woodworkers, Picasso and Salvador Dali. Although he describes himself as “somewhat introverted,” Zietz is eager to show off the mixed media work he didn’t have on last year’s tour.

Carrie Leavoy of Wakefield’s Mud Pies Pottery will be making her tour debut while hosting a wedding shower. Leavoy runs workshops from her studio, which she’ll be showcasing along with her art. She said for events such as showers, the participants often work communally on a project for the host.

In addition to bowls and teapots, Leavoy does custom tile work for kitchens, bathrooms or fireplaces, including mosaic-style, 3-D tiles with “lots of texture.” She said she’ll be hanging tile sections to give visitors an idea of how her murals work, as well as keeping her portfolio of past jobs on hand.

As a first-time artist on the tour, Leavoy said she’s most “excited to meet the neighbours.”

Moeller said the tour’s primary benefit to artists is the exposure and the credibility it’s established history lends them. For visitors, the opportunity to see artists’ materials and special equipment, and the occasion to ask technical questions, is one that only comes around once a year.

The Artists in their Environment Studio Tour runs Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a tour map and more information on the artists visit http://www.tourcw.com/index.htm.