Art lovers have the opportunity this weekend to get a unique glimpse into the creative worlds of local artists. The 8th annual Moab Artists’ Studio Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1 and 2 and allows the public to visit with the artists in their own studios. This year’s tour includes 21 artists from Moab and neighboring Castle Valley.
“Moab has such a rich artist community,” says Wendy Newman, who started the Artist Tour with the help of Serena Supplee in 2004. “Not everyone is showing work in galleries…we thought it would be great for Moab to get to see the talent in the community.”
Among the artists participating in the tour this year, are painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers – and, as is common with artists, many can’t help but dabble in several mediums.
One such jack-of-all-trades is Yrma van der Steenstraeten, one of three Castle Valley artists participating in the tour. Steenstraeten finds inspiration in the beautiful landscape that surrounds her studio in this small community outside of Moab.
“When I’m outside I’m inspired and taking pictures. Maybe they’re used for the composition, colors, shapes – or I might even combine photos into one painting, creating a collage in my head. But once the inspiration has come I don’t need the photos any longer. They’ve served their purpose.”
Steenstraeten’s Blue Rain studio is an adobe structure with south-facing windows for solar gain, surrounded by a landscape that includes Castle Rock and the La Sal mountains. Walking up the pathway to her studio, one can also view the work of tour artist Michael Ford Dunton in the form of a unique curved gutter addition made of welded steel, called “Downspout 1”, guiding rain-water toward a rock below.
Inside the studio are finished paintings and works in progress – everything from painted gourds and copper jewelry to small India ink works and large paintings in oil and acrylic
Originally from Holland, Yrma studied graphic design, painting and photography. She describes her exploration of art in various mediums as “keeping it interesting”.
For Moab artist Scott Anderson of Triassic Industries, inspiration comes through working with something tactile that he can touch or hold in the palm of his hand. A certified arborist who manages many of the tree-falls during the storms that roll through the Moab area, Anderson is also an artist who creates works ranging from sculptures in alabaster to wooden kitchen tools. His large studio is surrounded by gathered wood and materials, and houses tools and multiple projects in various stages of completion that he and his team are working on. Speaking of his fellow workers at his studio he says, “The exciting part about getting help executing something is that it allows me to get several projects going at once. Triassic is a combination of technical and creative artists working together.”
Anderson recently cut down an apple tree from the front yard of the owners of Sabaku Sushi, who have asked him to turn the wood into cutting boards and utensils for the restaurant. Anderson gets satisfaction from knowing where the source materials come from. “Most workers in the country would never see the tree.” Anderson believes that the materials you start with inform the piece. “If you didn’t destroy half the planet to get them, it adds so much value…philanthropically and economically.”
At another stop on the tour the eight members of the Moab Pastel Guild will be gathered to show their work.
Another location will feature plein-air painting couple Robin Straub & Phil Wagner, who recently exhibited at Dead Horse Point State Park. “We love living here,” says Straub. “And it’s exciting because this tour is a community effort.”
There will be an Artists Reception on Friday, Aug. 31, before the Studio Tour, as part of the Moab Music Festival both before the concert and during intermission at Star Hall.
Locals and visitors alike are encouraged to check out the Artists Tour. Triassic’s Anderson said it’s important to connect with people who have curiosity about art. “I had someone say, ‘I’d really love to learn how to sculpt something. So my response was: ‘Come on over to the shop. Let’s help you figure it out.’”