Parking spaces were in short supply on the Saturday evening of Aug. 11, as more than 500 folks, mostly locals, swarmed into the Coconino Center for the Arts on North Fort Valley Road for the opening reception of the Prelude exhibit.
The annual show, which used to be called Appetizers for the Visual Feast, is the preview for the Flagstaff Open Studios Tour, which is the last weekend in August.
Attendance at the Prelude show gives folks an opportunity to map out their Open Studios experience, as one piece is on display from each participating artist in the art tour.
“It’s one of my favorite art events of the year because you get to go into the artist studios and see the most intimate, gritty studio experience,” says John “JT” Tannous, executive director of the Flagstaff Cultural Partners, the nonprofit that manages the center. “You get to see the artist in their habitat.”
All Prelude and Open Studios artists are members of the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff, which hosts both events with FCP.
In fact, the show and tour are the signature events of the coalition, which was founded in 1996 by 10 original board of director members and a core group of local artists to encourage and promote the artistic growth and professional development of local artists.
There are 83 participants this year, which will also be a celebration of the 15th anniversary of Flagstaff Open Studios, says Mike Frankel, ACF executive director.
“Prelude and Open Studios features more than 25 percent new artists,” notes Frankel.
“The new artists showing include glass work by Sonia London-Hall, spectacular paintings by Kee Bahe, Erica Fareio, Melanie J. Thompson and Rayma Lee, and mixed-media work by Tom Williams and Gordon Rogowitz.”
For the first time, ACF has two additional preview exhibits running up to Open Studios Weekend at Brandy’s and Mountain Oasis restaurants, where a “great cross-section of FOS artists’ work will be on display.”
Each artist in Open Studios shows one piece in the Prelude show. Exhibited work this year includes beaded and other jewelry, oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, ceramic work, photography, stained, blown and fused glass, fabric art, mannequins, metal work, pine needle baskets, and of course multiple examples of mixed-media art.
Cinde Dalhover, a jeweler, is standing near her display case at Prelude, which holds her shell and glass beaded jewelry, next to “A Stitch in Time,” a found-object assemblage by Greg Mason.
“They’re shell disks enclosed with beads,” explains Dalhover, who’s been a coalition member for three years. “Each piece was done separately and then they’re stitched together. I make my own beaded toggle clamps. I don’t like beads against metal.”
Tannous says two things really stood out for him during the opening reception.
“It was really special to see Nancy DeBlois receive recognition from the coalition for her many years of advocacy for the arts in the community,” he says. “And the other thing is how many artists who have worked on the show come to the show and are supported by friends and colleagues in the community. Also, we always sell a good number of art in this show. It really shows on a grassroots level how the community rallies to support the working artists in Flagstaff.”
Endless appetizers and beverages kept folks energized through the three-hour reception. Adding to the fun was the live music of Jazz Dimension 3, featuring Jack and Vivian Delaporte on saxophone and piano respectively.
Hanging high above their heads was “The Thought of Bloom,” a large-scale fabric installation in four parts by Rachel Wilson.
The work of installing the Prelude show fell mostly to Robin Cadigan, gallery director, and Marja van der Loo, program coordinator, who worked 12 hours a day for more than a week taking down the previous show and putting up the new one.
Tannous acknowledged their hard work, just after Frankel presented the award to Nancy DeBlois.
The FOS brochure this year is much improved, says Frankel.
It is completely redesigned and for the first time includes “QR” codes to link smart phones to detailed maps to the 44 studio locations and three different ways—by studio, by medium and by artist’s name—to cross reference and locate the artists.
In addition, the material is grouped into all the painters, all the glass artists, all the mixed-media artists, all the photographers, etc.
“I did the cover, a photo mosaic of all the participating artists’ work, using our ACF logo,” he says. “We wanted to do something special for the 15th anniversary. It’s also on the poster and the advertising, so we’re kind of branding it. We might even use that concept every year.”
Prelude, preview exhibit for Flagstaff Open Studios, will be on display through Sat, Sept. 8 at the Coconino Center for the Arts, 2300 N. Ft. Valley Road. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition is free, but donations are accepted.
For more information, call the center at 779-2300 or visit www.culturalpartners.org.
The 15th annual Flagstaff Open Studios Tour is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at various venues around town.
The tour is free and printed guides are available at the Coconino Center for the Arts, the Visitor’s Center downtown, or by visiting the Artists’ Coalition website at www.flagstaff-arts.org.
Additional photos for this story:
Photographer Jon Matthies poses with his wife, Michelle, and son, Sean, 3, in the front his photograph at the Prelude opening. Matthies will be at location #23, Z House Gallery on East Rte. 66 on Open Studios weekend. Photo by Betsey Bruner
Flagstaff artist Bob Dalegowski stands next to his watercolor, “Bat Dance at Hance,” which attracted a lot of interest among attendees at the Prelude exhibit opening reception Aug. 11. Photo by Betsey Bruner
Jazz Dimension 3, with musicians Jack and Vivian Delaporte, play during Prelude’s opening. Photo by Betsey Bruner