Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 4/25/17
Artists and art lovers have always known that Hunterdon County, filled with beautiful greenery and charming downtowns throughout its 26 municipalities, is a hotspot for the arts with its plethora of studios, art museums, arts events and theaters.
However, after the Hunterdon County Art Tour holds its first countywide self-guided driving and walking art tour May 6 and 7, the committee of volunteers made up of artists, art lovers and longtime Hunterdon County residents hopes that everyone else will know, too.
Throughout the weekend, 37 local artists’ studios will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., when visitors can peruse and purchase artwork and learn more about mediums such as ceramics, glass, jewelry, painting, printmaking, sculpture and textiles — in their very own backyard.
“There’s a great joy in walking into an artist’s studio that’s not always open to the public as well as embarking on a journey traveling through the beauty of Hunterdon County,” said Val Sivilli, founder and organizer of the tour who has lived in Hunterdon County for over 25 years. “There is an incredible amount of life and culture here.”
Besides the open studios, several arts events will be happening throughout the weekend, including a crafters exhibition at the Sunflower Glass Studio at 877 Sergentsville Road in Stockton, an exhibition at the the Takaezu Studio at 1177 Croton Road, Flemington, that is showcasing the work of local ceramic artists, and an exhibition at the Mosaic Center at 23 Bridge St. in Milford. All of the events are free and there will be work for sale at select studios and events.
“The artist’s studio exposes the tender parts of process — that hybridization of material, vision, frustration, seeming dead-ends, occasional moments of pure genius that found no home and as well the moments of pure genius that actually found a home,” said Sivilli. “The inside of the artist’s mind tends to leak out into their workspace. Visitors are rarely welcome to bear witness to that brand of insanity.”
A free kickoff celebration will also take place on Friday, May 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hunterdon Art Museum, 7 Lower Center St., Clinton, where the tour’s artists will be featured in a special exhibition and artwork will be offered for sale ranging from $65 to $5,000, with half of the profits benefiting future tours.
Here, attendants will have the opportunity to meet the artists, taste glasses of wine with a $5 suggested donation from Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown, eat appetizers from BEX eatery & catering co. of Califon and listen to a music performance by Richard McIntyre of the Opera Project of Lambertville.
Sivilli came up with the idea for the Hunterdon County Art Tour about a year ago, after she returned from a three-month residency in New Mexico.
“The trip made me want to move somewhere with more of a vitalized art community,” she said. “Then I thought, let me see what could happen here.”
Sivilli hopes to see the tour happen year after year, with more refinements and expansions coming with each new tour. In the meantime, she hopes to bring in 1,000 people to this year’s tour.
“There’s a good amount of artists that are dealing with some clear conceptual issues and we want to empower them and bring their work into the educational system and elevate the arts in the eyes of the people that live here,” she said. “The arts are always good for the neighborhood.”
Hunterdon County Art Tour
What: A countywide self-guided driving and walking tour of the art studios of Hunterdon County
Where: Various locations throughout Hunterdon County
When: May 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.