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Wednesday, 16 September 2015 16:30

Studio tour promises cultural adventures off the beaten path

Written by  Maria Enns
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Driving along Highway 1 doesn’t necessarily give one a full sense of Saskatchewan’s beauty.

Instead, one must venture off the paved path to discover the often overlooked diversity residing in the hills, fields, and small country towns.
The Highway 1 Studio Tour provides an opportunity to risk a little adventure, and follow the pink ribbons hanging from fence posts and highway signs, to see the surrounding countryside through the imaginative eyes of local artists. These artists, who have taught themselves to see the subtle treasures hiding beyond the roadsides, are committed to sharing their discoveries through their artistic creations.
According to Hedi Gossweiler, one of the founding members, a current board member and passionate co-ordinator for the Highway 1 Studio Tour, the idea for this event was “born in early spring 2009 with a group of local artists brainstorming around the kitchen table. We were searching for a different kind of exposure and new opportunities to showcase and sell our art locally in the environment where it is created.”
Since 2009, the tour has varied its locations and artists, changing and growing each year to attract an ever-widening group of visitors. The first tour stretched from Rush Lake to Mortlach, featuring six artists. Visitors will travel from Waldeck to Herbert to New Leaf Studio south of Herbert, and features an impressive 14 artists along the way.
The seventh annual Highway 1 Studio Tour will take place Sept. 26 and 27, to coincide with Culture Days Saskatchewan again.
Throughout the province, arts and culture will be celebrated this weekend and along the stretch of highway from Waldeck to Herbert there will be no exception. At each stop the artists will provide demonstrations of their work and process, as well as offering hands-on opportunities for trying a variety of art-making.
The five venues with local and guest artists will be open Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sept. 27 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The tour is self-guided and visitors can start at any location that best suits their plans.
Wherever one begins, it is important to pick up a passport; collect a stamp or signature from each of the five venues, and turn it in at your last stop for a chance to win a lovely collection of art from the artists on the tour.
Kim Undseth of Undseth’s Pottery is a new location for this year’s tour. Joining Undseth at her studio will be Donald Ferguson and Cindy Redekop. Undseth’s functional and beautiful pottery will be available for viewing and purchase; her works are a direct product of Saskatchewan ground, each piece with it’s own unique story. Visitors will be able to play with clay, make a thumb-bowl or handprint.
From Swift Current, Ferguson is joining the tour for his second year, bringing his spectacular nature photography. Ferguson’s photography is an artistic representation of the emotion he encounters while out in nature. Also at Undseth’s studio, Swift Current-based Redekop will feature her crocheted wire artwork in the form of jewelry, purses, vases, accessories and more.
The Lone Eagle Motel is the first stop in Herbert, where Hedi Gossweiler’s studio and farm, Swiss Line Alpacas is located. Visitors are able to interact with live alpacas, try their hand at needle felting and learn the process of how the raw fibre becomes the finished product. Gossweiler will showcase both her everyday and high-end alpaca products.
Also at the motel, Shantel Wall is joining the tour for the first time this year with her unique decorative abstract paintings. Wall mixes mediums such as inks, oils, pastels and acrylics which allow her art to be always changing as as she explores different mediums and techniques.
The CPR Station in Herbert will house six artists as well as serving food for hungry tour-goers. Randy Lawson, from Bracken, Sask., is bringing his frames made from reclaimed barn wood. Herbert’s own Krista Routledge will feature her one-of-a-kind jewelry and photography.
New to the tour this year from Saskatoon, Linda Skibinsky will display her striking paintings which vary from realism, abstract, impressionistic or a combination of them all. Also at the train station, a musician from Hodgeville, Walter Gehl, will perform with his band on Saturday, Sept. 26. On Sunday afternoon, a local bagpipe musician will perform at the CPR Station, the motel, and New Leaf Studio.
Next to the CPR Station is an old schoolhouse where Sally Knelsen of Swift Current is bringing her colour-saturated landscape paintings. Myrna Gehl, from Hodgeville, will join Knelsen in the schoolhouse with her ceramic models and china paintings.
Aird Romich will be based outside the schoolhouse, joining the tour for his second year with his metal art. He will again offer visitors a chance to try swinging his blacksmith’s hammer.
The last stop of the tour is New Leaf Studio, nine miles south of Herbert. Maria Enns, based out of New Leaf Studio, is showcasing her reclaimed paper notebooks, handmade envelopes and fabric art for the fourth year. She will offer guests a chance to take part in a giant collaborative mural, using plastic lids — bring your own to recycle into a beautiful work of art, or use the ones provided to help create this environmentally-conscious mural.
Joining her in her studio, is Prelate’s Grant Howg, who paints prairie scenes on the unique material of gyprock. Visitors will be able to try their hand at drawing on gyprock.
New to this year’s tour is mixed media and photography artist Valerie Triggs. Her gorgeous photography will be available to view and purchase on pieces of reclaimed wood, canvas, and aluminum magnets. She also offers ZAPs, Zipper Art Pulls, which are mixed media images on recycled plastic that can be attached to any zipper.
There are a variety of aspects to the tour that will appeal to a wide range of age and culture, from the varied art forms, to the cultural demos, the hands-on experiences and musical performances, to the physical journey itself. The tour encourages people to become a part of the cultural patchwork of Saskatchewan. The entire event offers an opportunity to experience the richness of art and culture in rural Saskatchewan.
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