POST Open Studio Tours

Ashley Bald, Associate Editor

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Founded in 1999 by Karen Brown, Philadelphia’s Post open studio tours have been an important part of the ever-changing local art community. Every year in October, over 300 artists all over the city open their studio doors to the public and display amazing art and intriguing work spaces.

Unlike museums, these open studios give us a behind the scenes peek at the creative process of each artist, and the incredible opportunity to talk with these artists one on one.

Brown’s goal in starting this event was to bring artists together with the art organizations that filled the city, and bring more attention to art in general.

Starting with only 13 artists in 2000, it quickly grew in number of participants and popularity. Many communities are involved in this event: Old City, Germantown and Center City to name a few.

Not only has this event been a great way for artists to connect and sell their work, but it has also been an amazing way for students to learn and grow.

The art department here at the Community College of Philadelphia anticipates the open studio tours each year, and encourages students to use the opportunity to explore working studio spaces and be able to view contemporary artwork right here in Philadelphia.

Having the option to speak with these working artists is a great way for students to learn more about specific types of art and what is currently happening in art industry. Another great perk for art students is that this event is completely free to attend. All you need is the list of artists that are participating and their studio locations and you are ready to go. There is even an app that will help you plan your day and find your way around.

I had the pleasure of attending this event for the first time this year, and it was incredible to say the least. The most enjoyable part was being able to hear the personal stories and methods of these artists while viewing their work. It is truly an intimate setting and absolutely sheds some light on why and how they make art.

While following my tour map, I encountered two very talented artists that were willing to spare time from their schedule to speak with me.

Justin Webb, a painter and sculpture living in Philadelphia, is an artist in residence at the Church Studios at Olivet Presbyterian Church located in the Fairmount neighborhood. Webb enjoys painting from life, and including personal sentimental items in his still life compositions. In exchange for his studio space, Webb helps maintain the condition of the old church, as do all of the other artists in that building. The rooms that are now being used for painting, sculpting, and theatre were once classrooms and gyms for children. The large church is quite a sight, and a great place to visit. They are planning to utilize some of the unused space for reach out to underprivileged children in the city and involve them in the arts.

Another amazing and talented artist, Rosemarie D’Alba creates remarkable “carved paintings” where she paints with oils onto a carved plaster surface. The final pieces are three dimensional and stunning, and inspired by her love of the rivers, her home town, and the connection between humans and nature. She seeks abstract shapes and intricate patterns for her pieces. She is a very accomplished artist, illustrator, designer and teacher.

This was an amazing experience, and I feel that many people can learn and grow greatly by attending this event. However, I was concerned to hear that the participation of artists in the community has greatly decreased over the past few years. Many artists are finding that it is not worth the time and effort to showcase their work for this event with so little people traveling to visit the studios. The artists that I was able to speak with agreed that is was exceptionally quiet this year, more so than usual. There will be also be studio tours on October 22nd and 23rd for anyone who would like to be involved and visit these inspiring artists. It is now our chance to revive this program by spreading the word and reaching out into the community to support the arts here in Philadelphia.

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POST Open Studio Tours