Art tour profitable for artists

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published October 25, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 24, 2012 at 8:19 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Dolores Middleton works on a temari ball at the Arkadelphia Arts Center during the sixth annual Round About Artist Studio Tour. Temari is a traditional Japanese art form involving embroidered thread balls.

— It was a good weekend for a group of artists in Clark County as they opened their studios to art admirers and art buyers during the sixth annual Round About Artist Studio Tour.

Rita Earles, a member of the Caddo River Art Guild, the organization that created the tour, said art sales were the highest in several years.

“Talking with other artists, our visitors spent a lot more money this time, especially on Friday and Saturday,” she said. “It may have been the best tour for sales since 2008. Sales have been lower when the economy dropped, but we may be back to where we were three years ago.”

Earles said Jerry Burrow, an Arkadelphia artist who does oil paintings and makes jewelry from fused glass, reported very good sales both Friday and Saturday.

In all, 26 artists took part in the tour, either inviting patrons to their studios or setting up a work and display area in the Arkadelphia Arts Center on Main Street.

Visitors to the arts center and the Diamond Lakes Visitors Center in Caddo Valley could pick up a brochure with information on all the artists taking part in the tour, as well as a map to their studios.

“We tried to show how people could take a circular route and visit all the studios without having to crisscross the county,” said Farrell Ford, president of the Caddo River Art Guild. “The weather this year was so much better than last year, and I am sure that helped draw more people.”

In addition, it was the homecoming weekend for Henderson State University, and Earles said it seemed many of those going to the game and other homecoming events were working in the tour as well.

At the visitors center in Caddo Valley, Vickie Egleston, center director, said visitors from out of state were coming by.

“We even had one from Iowa,” she said. “Some people said they were on vacation to go to homecoming or visit relatives but had planned their trip to include the tour.”

A steady stream of local art lovers visited the arts center in Arkadelphia, said Dolores Middleton, who was making and showing her art at the center.

Middleton, an Ohio native who moved to Arkadelphia in 1989, makes temari, a Japanese art form in which a ball is covered with yarn and thread. The covering is then a surface for colorful designs that are hand-embroidered. She said people were interested in her art and asked how they could learn to do it.

Also in the center was George Baker, making what he described as “purposefully primitive treeware.” Baker carves bowls, spoons and other kitchen utensils from a variety of wood. On display during the art tour were items carved from walnut, dogwood, mulberry, ash and cherry woods.

On Clinton Street in downtown Arkadelphia, Randy Johnson brought his potter’s wheel out to the sidewalk and talked about his pottery-making methods to anyone who stopped by. On Friday, he showed a group of art students from nearby schools how he made coffee mugs on his wheel.

“As you make anything from clay, you have to watch how thick it is getting,” Johnson told the students. “Anything thicker than an Oreo cookie is going to break once it’s done or shatter in the kiln.”

The tour was founded by five local artists who wanted to promote the arts in the area. Today, the Caddo Valley Art Guild has more than 70 members who range from professional artists to just those who like art. The guild meets once a month in the Arkadelphia Arts Center.

For more information go to www.caddoriverartguild.com or call (870) 245-3612.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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