A set of rustic chairs, His and Hers, each painted with the visage of artist Grant Wood’s famous coupling, “American Gothic,” rests in Carol Baldwin’s home art studio.
The chairs seem to hold a conversation with one another, pitchforked farmer stern and willful against a quiet woman, her hair pulled back into a severe bun. A shorter chair watches the exchange. Painted with Wood’s depiction of adolescence, a pin-feathered chicken, it eyes the couple with one watery eye.
“I’m looking forward to the Studio Tour,” Baldwin explains. “During the tour, I plan to take my visitors on a mini tour of my studio. I have things that people won’t buy, but they are interesting curios because of their history. I’m showing drawings, sculptures, and little skeletons made of pipe cleaners with papier mache heads. I was in the People’s Faire with these last year and they were a hit.”
Baldwin’s home studio is one stop on the 2008 Studio Tour, sponsored by the Las Vegas Arts Council. The tour criss-crosses town, with 26 studios in attendance, from homes like Baldwin’s to Old Town galleries such as deMare Fine Art, Plaza Vieja Gallery, Tito’s Gallery, and WarDancer Gallery. Visitors can follow the numbered yellow flags as they follow a map outlining each of the studio’s offerings during June 14 and 15. The evening of June 14 begins the first of an ongoing monthly series called the Second Saturday Art Walk, where visitors can walk around Old Town in the early evening and have an art and social experience. Both galleries and Old Town businesses will stay open late each Saturday evening, from 5 to 9 p.m. for the walks, which will be held rain or shine.
“The tour begins Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 until 5 p.m.,” says deMare Fine Art owner Elizabeth DeMare. “We’re actually beginning before the art tour on Friday, from 7 to 9 p.m. with an opening reception for Nancy Bohm’s show, “Many Flutes, One Song,” a collection of new works in charcoal and pastels which depict the basic idea that there are many instruments in the form of people, but there is only one song, the song of God.”
Bohm’s new works shine with mysterious light. Otherworldly flutes, their curve and carving hinting at ancient faraway cultures, burst with heavenly light, while enigmatic birds consider the spectacle, world-weary eyes open in expressions of hope. In “Double-Mouthed Western Flute,” the soundpiece extends in two graceful arcs, each decorated with worn scrollwork. The embodiment of heat-lightening, of pregnant electric possibility, hovers between the two horns. A crow lifts head in abandonment.
“We’re also participating in the Second Saturday Art Walk,” DeMare offers, “with light refreshments, and harpsichordist Daniel Jencka playing from 5 to 9 p.m. We look forward to meeting the community. Nancy’s work is exquisite. She’s an excellent technical artist who can bring her spiritual self into what she does.”
WarDancer Gallery will display the works of several well-known local artists as well as artists whose work has not yet been seen by the public. Las Vegas Art Council board member Marisol Macias will show her work at both the gallery and her own studio during the Art Tour. Macias’ “Migrations,” a 12 inch plate now showing at WarDancer, reminds the viewer of petroglyphs, of life during ancient surrender, with a curled rim and mosaic texture. Pronghorn ring the plate, their white bodies a silhouette against the moon, perhaps, against forgotten rock memory.
“Art always lives,” says Neita Fran Ward, WarDancer Gallery’s owner. “It lifts people’s minds and allows them to pull themselves out and apart from society interact with the art by themselves. Any time someone knows about Las Vegas, visits Las Vegas, the town is helped because it’s an economic boost. They may spend the night, buy gas, eat in our restaurants. It validates art, too. As the occupants of the galleries, we are excited about opening our doors to the public during the 2008 Studio Tour. Everyone in Las Vegas — especially all of these wonderful artists — is an ambassador for Las Vegas.”
The 2008 Studio Tour runs Saturday June 14 and Sunday June 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Second Saturday Monthly Art Walks begin Saturday June 14, from 5 to 9 p.m. For more information, call the Las Vegas Arts Council at 425-1085.
Tour maps can be picked up at participating galleries around town.