December 5, 2009

Artists' studio tour is full of surprises...

You never know what you'll find at the annual artists' studio open house at the Racine Business Center, where the creations range from traditional to avant-garde, from work done 20 years ago to those on which the paint is still drying.

Moreover, just when you think you have an artist pegged as a serious sculptor, because of one gallery of his work at this end of the corridor, you stumble into another gallery at the other end and find he's got a comic side as well.

Some three dozen studios were open to visitors today, showing the work of about 50 artists. Here are a few things that caught my eye.

Linda Somlai is dwarfed here by her -- oh, my! what to call it? -- assemblage/ sculpture called Madame Hudson, which took her about two years to construct. It is made of thousands upon thousands of hand-made beads, themselves made from old tins; you know, candy tins, tea tins, that sort of thing.

It began with a conversation with her son, she said. "We were talking about old tin cans and what to do with the garbage they generate." And so, she began making a metal tree that looks as if it got its nourishment from old tin cans, from garbage.

Friends who heard about the project started giving her tin cans -- from Russia, China, Amsterdam. She used found objects, broken pieces of jewelry, junk. The sculpture's name comes from the old metal Hudson automobile logo she happened to find.

Below is a closeup of Madame Hudson's head. Click to enlarge for all the detail.

Detail of Madame Hudson; price not yet determined

The artist who caught me -- and other gallery visitors -- by surprise was Bradford D. Lee, whose gallery of museum-quality alabaster and marble sculptures was the first encountered by studio visitors. Here's the gallery; the piece on the right is two-faced Sybil.

Sybil by Bradford D. Lee: $7,000

But in another gallery, we found another side of Lee: Humorous paper sculptures made by him and his wife, Marie, "for relaxation," she said. Here's what they look like:

Hippies by Bradford D. Lee: $200 each

Jana McLaughlin's Sunflowers, $200, platinum over pigment,
with antique Rochester View camera.

Alice Hazarian's clay Ram, $400, draws on her Armenian heritage

Janet Hoffman's Mermaids beckon; $20 each

Wall-sized sculpture of walnut leaf stems, by Maureen Fritchen

Bright fleece and crochet hat and scarf by Marjorie Meyer, $21

Marilyn Ward teaches children's literature at Carthage,
and brings students to her studio to see her collection
of antique doll houses (and lots more interesting
stuff). She has them sign her tool pegboard.

From Jerry Belland's Tortures of Solitude studio bulletin board

It's almost Vivaldi o'clock in the studio... clock actually
a bit of appropriate composer's music on the hour.


  1. Linda Somlai's beaded work was amazing! Thank you for the lovely photos!

  2. This is always a great event. The talent is amazing.

    One note of sadness was the absence of Lorna and Tom Hennig, your friends hope you were celebrating together from above.

    We miss you both.

  3. Fantastic use for tin cans. I bet students could do these at each of the schools.

  4. Great event... I love Brad Lee's work and glad to see him get mentioned. I too miss Lorna and Tom.

  5. Is the composer clock for sale somewhere?

  6. Ah, my memory fades -- whose studio displayed that clock?

    I haven't seen a notice about this year's show, but the artists at the Racine Business Center (1405 16th St.) hold their annual open house on a Saturday early in December. Your best bet would be to go to this year's open house and look for it. It's a great show!