The Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour, now in its ninth year, is one of the largest in the area, guaranteeing that you’ll stumble upon work for which you feel a yen. This year there are 41 participating artists, representing a range of styles and media, from painting and watercolor to assemblage and sculpture to photography and printmaking to ceramics, textile art and jewelry. It is so geographically sprawling (only a few studios are in the village) that you’ll have to strategize a bit, in order not to miss anything.
Held over two days – August 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – the event still means that you’ll have to scramble, given that that’s more than 20 artists a day; plus, you’ll want to build in time for lingering and hanging out with the artists. So the best course of action is to preview the work and locations of the participating artists on the tour’s website, www.saugertiesarttour.com. The site contains a map that you can download (it also lists multiple locations in Saugerties and nearby municipalities where you can pick up a free printed copy), local restaurants so you won’t starve and a list of the artists, including a reproduction of a representative artwork and brief statement.
Some of the artists will be hands-on: Photographer Allen Bryan, for example, whose home and studio are located three miles outside the village, will show how he assembles his photographic images, which he calls “digital constructions.” Any fan of the dark underbelly of the American psyche will gravitate toward Bryan’s “Comforts of Home” series, in which retro interiors – some very rough, others apparently abandoned – look out on forlorn landscapes. The altered spaces suggest powerful psychic states, and their panoramic format is all the more remarkable considering that ten years ago, Bryan lost his peripheral vision, forcing him to give up driving.
“I started combining new images shot digitally with older ones shot on film,” including photographs taking on trips out West, he said. “It’s opened up new worlds. I’m making pictures that never existed.” Bryan’s work has recently been exhibited at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the Smithsonian Institution.
New this year to the tour is Matthew Zappala, who moved to his home and studio on High Woods Road five years ago from New York City. Zappala makes large-scale woodcuts in the winter – mostly landscapes in a style reminiscent of German Expressionism – and cutouts of crows in the summer; a sample of his crow sculptures greets visitors as they pull into the driveway. The ground floor of his two-floor studio will display recent work, including scenes of Cranberry Island in Maine.
Ze’ev Willy Neumann, who emigrated to New York City from Israel in the early 1970s, makes Minimalist sculptures of wood, metal and other materials at his studio at 43 Livingstone Street. They bristle with pop wit and theatrical flair; Neumann’s formidable skills with wood were forged as a builder of movie and theater sets and world’s fairs.
Polly Law’s paper dolls, constructed of common materials in collagelike fashion, their frames functioning like miniature prosceniums, examine aspects of the female self through a surrealistic lens. Meticulously assembled, the dolls collectively conjure up an array of styles reinterpreted by Law with disarming charm, taking the sting out of their dark subtext. Law’s new book, titled The Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words – Illustrated, will be for sale at the studio space that she is borrowing for the tour.
That’s just a tiny sampling of the work that you’ll get to see in its place of origin. There will be an opening reception and exhibition featuring examples of the tour artists’ work on Friday, August 12 at The Gallery at Opus 40 from 5 to 7 p.m. Some of the participating artists also have work displayed at the “Views of Saugerties” show at the Cafe Mezzaluna on Route 212.