For the second year running, the coronavirus has put a kibosh on one of this community’s most popular Mother’s Day traditions.
This would have been year 22 for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Art Studio Tour, but the team of artists behind the annual undertaking has had to pull the plug again – even though the vaccines are being administered and safety restrictions are easing up a bit in recent days around COVID restrictions.
Each May, dozens of artists throughout the community – in new studios, as well as long-time favourites – open up their creative space to the public during the course of two days, explained artist and spokesperson April Lacheur.
While the composition of the group changes from year to year, visitors who come from throughout the Lower Mainland can typically expect to see paintings in all media, functional pottery, ceramic sculptures, jewellery, sculpture, drawings, paper arts, textiles, woodwork, functional art, and mosaics, she explained.
“There is a lot of talent in this community,” Lacheur said.
Upwards of 1,500 visitors each spring have turned this into an annual tradition.
Unfortunately, just like last year, organizers have had to cancel the 2021 tour for safety reasons.
“We were all quite disappointed,” said tour co-chair Kerry McLaren.
“But, we are still here and choosing to do something a little different this year in order to keep you connected with the artists in your neighbourhood!” Lacheur added.
New this year, the team is creating an artist directory that will be made available – as a printed brochure and on their website – featuring all the artists who would have been participating in the tour.
This will provide contact information for those artists who can still safely arrange in-person tours of their studios by appointment, and the directory will also offer other ways for supporters to connect with the artists and their works – including through online options.
“It’s a wonderful way to learn more about the tour artists so you can continue to support them as they continue to make their beautiful art,” Lacheur added.
As well, a special show and sale is being organized at The ACT, confirmed McLaren.
While the tour had up to 44 artists and groups set to participate, the exhibition will feature 28 of those tour artists. Their original works will be on display in the art gallery portion of The ACT between April and June.
“It’s just a really nice way for us to still be out there in the community, and showing our work,” McLaren added.
“We really miss everybody. It’s the strangest thing when you’ve done this for gosh, it was going to be our 22nd year, and then all of the sudden it’s not happening and we’re going ‘oh no.’ We just miss all our people.
She said the group is still keeping its “feelers” out trying to find other initiatives they can participate in in the coming months to keep the artists and their works in front of the public.
She said there’s some talk of possibly hosting a scaled down version of the tour in September, provided restrictions have “lightened up enough.”
But for now, McLaren said of the exhibition: “I think, for us right now, this is going to be our push.”
Details about specific dates and how to view the free show, including booking times, will be available in the days to come.
“We’re just encouraging the community to come out and see us where they can – and to be in touch,” McLaren said. “Because, we’re all still here and we’re all still creating.”
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