After retiring from the National Park Service, Nick Eason found his niche as a fine art wildlife sculptor. He is one of 23 artists on the Moab Artists Studio Tour. [Courtesy photo]

Moab-area artists once again are inviting the public into their workspace during Labor Day weekend during the Moab Artists Studio Tour. This year 23 artists in Moab and Castle Valley will open their doors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

“The Moab Studio Tour is one decade old,” said Bruce Hucko, the coordinator for the annual event. “Like the arts and artists themselves, the tour is a testimony to perseverance and creative expression.”

The annual Studio Tour began with Wendy Newman and Serena Supplee in 2004 to allow art lovers to have a personal glimpse of the art, the artists and the creative process.

“The tour gives you the rare chance to see and visit working Moab artists in their native home habitat and to purchase work directly from them,” Hucko said. “Each will welcome you into the intimacy of their creative environments to share their creative process and finished works with you.”

Hucko is known to Moab kids as the “Art Coach.” In addition to his lifelong passion for photography he is also the art instructor at Helen M. Knight Elementary.

A sneak preview of the tour was available from July 4 through Aug. 24 with a special group show at the Bighorn Gallery at Dead Horse State Park.

A variety of mediums as well as artists available on the tour.

Acrylic painter Jacci Weller has a highly tuned vision to the subtleties of our local landscape, Hucko said. Nick Eason found his niche as a wildlife sculptor after retiring from the National Park Service. Also on the tour is the dynamic oil painting duo of Robin Straub and Phil Wagner.

Other mediums are explored by fine art photographer Hucko, wood and stone sculptor Scott Anderson, gourd artist Bob Ridges, high definition watercolor artist Jonathan Frank, multi-media creative talent North Frank and pastelist Helen Becker.

Pastel painter Sarah Hamingson, who is the National Park Service’s community artist this year, will be showing in her home studio this year.

“She paints on site in the Southeast region on a weekly basis and still manages to offer her fourth grade students an awesome education,” Hucko said.

Margie Lopez-Read, Marsha Modine, Mary Collar, Peggy Harty, Thea Nordling and Larry Thomas – the six artists from the Moab Pastel Guild, will be showing in one location at 195 E. 100 South.

Oil painter James McKew and Moab art mainstay Tim Morse will be showing and working at the Overlook Gallery on Center Street.

“And if that’s not enough you can also be lured to Castle Valley to see the works of multi-media artist Yrma Van Der Steenstraeten and stone and steel master Michael Ford Dunton,” Hucko said.

Steenstraeten finds inspiration in the beautiful landscape that surrounds her studio in this small community outside of Moab. 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

Van der Steenstaeten encourages art lovers to make a day exploring Castle Valley, and to combine the experience with the offerings of the Moab Music Festival, which has events nearby.

“The drive on the Scenic Highway 128 is a beautiful one and a nice outing with beaches along the river,” van der Steenstaeten said. “Both nights the music festival is at Red Cliffs Lodge, which is very close to Castle Valley. The studios close at 4 p.m., so an afternoon visit will give you enough time to eat at either Red Cliffs or Sorrel’s restaurants and enjoy the concert at Red Cliffs Lodge.”

New to the tour this year are stained glass artist Gail Darcey and fabric “regalia” creator Eleanor Inskip.

“The arts, combined with a great number of inspiring not-for-profit humanitarian and cultural organizations create a community vitality seldom seen in a western rural town,” Hucko said.

There will be an Artists Reception on Friday, Aug. 30, before the Studio Tour, as part of the Moab Music Festival both before the concert and during intermission at Star Hall.

“The Moab Artists Studio Tour opening night reception is a great opportunity to see current works by Moab artists,” said Laura Brown, the director of the Moab Music Festival. “We are excited to feature Jonathan Frank’s ‘Shadows Fall’, as our 21st season t-shirt design. The tour is a great event for tourists and locals alike.”