Studio Tour launches with festive celebration

IMAGINARY AVIATION SERIES The Opticopter assemblage sculpture by Colleen Manestar. (Karen Valihora/Gazette Staff)




The PEC Studio Tour celebrated its 30th season with a party and live action painting at Base31 this past Saturday afternoon.

Visitors enjoyed glasses of pink, white, and red wine from Huff Estates, cake, jazz by the Howard Lopez Trio, and a collaborative painting exhibition, all amidst works from tour artists featured in a celebratory art show which ran all weekend.

The fun and festive event, held at the Lecture Hall, was packed from start to finish.

First round effort by artist Sam Sakr at Studio Tour celebration Live Paint Around.

The Studio Tour was founded in 1993 by a handful of Bloomfield artists, who imagined the collective open house as a chance for visitors and residents to see how and where artists work, to visit a favourite artist, and for artists to visit each other.

The event was a success almost at once. By 2006 it was a well-established annual weekend, a “must-do fall event, attracting nearly 2000 visitors,” said County Arts Executive Director Janna Smith.

Such growth prompted its leadership to formalize a relationship with the Prince Edward Arts Council. It now operates under its auspices alongside Art in the County, the PEC Jazz Festival, and PEC Music Festival, and The Maker’s Hand.

After 15 years, “I think it’s safe to say that this union has been beneficial for our entire arts community. Today, this three-day event attracts thousands of visitors, creating important exposure and sales for local artists,” said Ms. Smith.

In both 2021 and 2022, the Tour generated $150,000 in art sales for its members on the tour weekend alone.

Meanwhile, the Art Studio Tour is a non-profit foundation, its activities made possible by generous community sponsorship.

Dale Wainwright, Co-Chair of the Tour for almost ten years, noted the depth of community sponsorship. Alongside the tour’s platinum sponsors, The Waring House, The Drake Devonshire, and Base31, which hosted the event, a long list of community sponsors includes 99.3 County FM, the new Classical 103.1 FM, and PEC’s Chamber Music Festival.

“It has been such a pleasure to work with the team at Base31, which is becoming just a fantastic cultural hub,” she noted.

Speeches were followed by a Paint Around, which featured two groups of four artists working simultaneously on eight canvases. Each artist took ten minutes and then rotated to the next canvas, while the Howard Lopez Trio played its music. It was like a colourful game of musical chairs, with the bonus of watching a painting unfold under different hands.

The Tour takes place across the County the weekend of September 22-24. Maps and artist details are available at the website, The Studio Tour map offers a year-round self-guided tour. Outside the open house weekend, just contact the artists you would like to visit ahead of time to arrange a visit.