Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)
Chester County Studio Tour set for Saturday and Sunday
Spring is here and so is the art collector’s favorite event — the Chester County Studio Tour, a two-day art extravaganza featuring 165 artists in 61 studios Saturday and Sunday.
The tour has been described as a studio and garden tour that appeals to people who enjoy exploring beautiful properties and discovering the lives of artistic people.
The tour’s co-founder, Pop artist Jeff Schaller, says that last year’s tour had to be modified for outdoor viewing due to pandemic restrictions, but now the participating artists are happy to be out of “hibernation mode.” “We have been in our studios developing our ideas, nurturing our intuition, and perfecting our skills,” Schaller said from his studio in Downingtown.
Schaller said the annual tour began 12 years ago when a group of his fellow artists shared ideas at a monthly art critique gathering and they decided to reach out to the public in a new way.
As it turns out, Chester County may be considered “Andrew Wyeth’s country,” but it’s also home to hundreds of nontraditional artists who work in diverse mediums as well as pho
tographers, printmakers, woodworkers, and sculptors.
The artists represented in three studios in and around Coatesville are perhaps typical of the range of work you might see. According to the free illustrated catalog given out at each studio, the artists found at Rachel Romano’s home include the self-described “bird artist” Annie Patrizi, the glass artist Steven Schaefer, and Jill Beech, who creates sculptural work with clay, paper, encaustic, and metal.
At another Coatesville studio, artist Herb Eilertsen will be showing his series of lush and dramatic paintings of the nearby West Branch of the Brandywine.
At Nancy Fuhrman’s hilltop home and studio, visitors can see the work of photographer Ron Saltzman, and landscape painters Elizabeth Hughes and Tim McAleese.
Fuhrman, a former elementary school principal in Downingtown, now spends her time learning new art mediums. Her streetscapes of Coatesville and Downingtown, such as the painting shown here, have a textured look since they are made with oil and cold wax.
Fuhrman will also be showcasing her recent work using a technique called wet felting and needle felting. These works are another must-see. The wet felt technique proved ideal for depicting cheerful scenes of children playing, Fuhrman said, while the needle felting was used in colorful landscapes designed to hang from the wall much like mini tapestries.
Considering the Chester County Tour’s popularity — it’s not only free but requires no tickets — it’s understandable that tour organizers have worked out the most efficient system for attracting patrons. For instance, Coatesville is an easy drive from numerous other studios that appear on tour itineraries that you can download from the group’s website.
Romano, a figurative painter whose imaginative works recall Eastern European folk tales, said that she created her own map locating her home on Oak Street. The map underscores Coatesville’s convenient location to other studios such as those in West Chester (20 minutes away) and Jeff Schaller’s studio (15 minutes) near others in Downingtown.
Romano’s studio is also located only a few blocks from the Lukens Historic District, a 14-acre green space that includes historic homes open for tours each Saturday.
Romano first took part in the annual tour at the Spring City Mill Studios near Phoenixville. But since moving to Coatesville less than three years ago, she has discovered a new audience and friendly neighbors. She now looks forward to inviting the public into her spacious home, which includes an outdoor garden space with a frog pond. “Artists tend to spend so much time working in isolation, so we really like it when you come out and meet us,” Romano said.
The Chester County Studio Tour is free and open to the public Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 15, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, including a map and a way to design your own self-guided tour, visit the group’s new interactive website at www. countystudiotour.com.