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Mo’town Studio Tour highlights regional artists

Join 12 regional guest artists and four Morgantown host artists for the fifth annual Mo’town Studio Tour this weekend.

Five years ago, Morgantown potter Jen Allen was inspired by national ceramic tours to create a tour of artists of all mediums through local art studios. Four Morgantown art studios have come together to host state and regional artists of various backgrounds and art styles. The roster of artists on the tour changes each year, and participants typically only attend once — this presents an opportunity for locals to appreciate one-of-a-kind works that they wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to see and encourages visiting artists to see what Morgantown has to offer.

“We’re trying to bring great art to Morgantown,” said host artist and event co-founder Lisa Giuliani. “We’re trying to have a lot of people come to Morgantown, and just increase the reach of artists in Morgantown.”

The Mo’town Studio Tour will be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today and noon- 4 p.m. Sunday. The event is self-guided and free to attend, and visitors are encouraged to stop by each of the four studios participating to appreciate the full range of artworks. Attendees will receive a punch card at their first stop, and with a punch from all four studios, will be entered into a raffle to potentially receive art by the host or guest artists.

Local host artists include potter and jewelry maker Giuliani, ceramic artist and instructor Allen, woodcut artist Bryn Perrott AKA DeerJerk and ceramic artist Shalya Marsh. Guest artists who will be exhibiting their work at these host artists’ studios include a wide range of creative styles and educational and professional experience, with participants hailing from here in West Virginia to Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Tennessee. Art mediums include jewelry, pottery, clothing, home goods, photography, painting, printmaking, illustration and weaving.

Not only is this a chance to encounter new creatives and their work up close, but for art enthusiasts, it’s a opportunity to have “first dibs” on artwork created especially for this event by artists whose work may typically be in great demand online.

“If you’re a customer on the tour, you could have a whole slew of choices of people’s work that you wouldn’t have a chance at otherwise,” said Giuliani. “It provides a huge opportunity for collectors and buyers.”

For casual art enjoyers, or even folks who might not consider themselves the artsy type, the studio tour is a great way to spend a weekend while supporting artists and their creative endeavors.

“[This event] is important because funding around the country for art is drying up, but what doesn’t dry up is the inspiration for art and the need for art in our lives,” said Giuliani. “As things are crumbling all around us, people don’t realize how integral art is to existence and education.”

To continue recognizing and supporting creatives and their work, the Mo’town Studio Tour presents awards to three guest artists each year, selecting a participant to receive a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) grant, a West Virginia Artist to highlight and a Local Spotlight to feature a participant who creates art alongside their main career.

“Making stuff is not necessarily about being an artist or wanting to sell your work,” said Giuliani. “There is an innate human need to make things with your hands. There’s a ton of people that live in this town that started knitting or needlepointing or crafting in some way because they had to, just because they’re human. We wanted to focus on those people who make stuff but it’s not their day job.”

The DEI grant is a new addition as of last year, funded in part by an auction held at the Monongalia Arts Center (MAC) on Friday, and aims to offset travel costs for a qualifying artist, furthering the event’s goal to present a true variety of work.

Also at the MAC, an exhibition of current and previous artists featured on the Mo’town Studio Tour will be on display through Oct. 29. This will celebrate the fifth year of the tour.

“It’s really important that we continue to stand strong and continue to make work and continue to support our community,” said Giuliani. 

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