June Harris remembers the first year she and two others decided to launch the Apsley Autumn Studio Tour, with a bit of money from their municipality and a sincere desire to share the art they were creating. Twenty-five years later, the Tour has grown into the region’s most artistic event with 23 artists in 11 studios across North Kawartha.
Harris says her only regret after working on the Tour for many years was having to drop-out when she moved to Peterborough. She also says she had no idea how this small event would flourish and grow into such a huge annual celebration of creativity.
Harris says even the inaugural year was more of a success than anyone imagined. With the help of an ad the organizers placed in the “Globe and Mail,” there were more than 500 visitors to her studio in the first year.
“I’m pretty sure people never dreamed so many people would come,” Harris laughs. “But we had people in their own environment and that makes it more interesting and people just caught on to the idea and we all knew that this was something.”
Over the years, this “something” grew into a well-attended local event that now features painters, jewellers, glass artists, potters, photographers, fibre artists, woodworkers and sculptors who call North Kawartha home. Still self-guided, the Apsley Autumn Studio Tour provides a wonderful opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy vibrant autumn colours while discovering the wealth of artistic talent tucked away in our beautiful, rugged landscape.
The only one of the three founding members who is still working with the Tour 25 years later is Molly Moldovan. From her home and studio on Tallan Lake, she showcases her large, abstract pieces.
“I have been living and working in North Kawartha since graduating OCA(D) with honours,” Moldovan says. “The starting point for all my work is the pristine landscape that surrounds me: the lake, forest and uninterrupted skyscape are the foundation of every piece that I paint.”
As the President of the Apsley Studio Tour and the Tour’s organizational powerhouse, Moldovan makes sure that every detail is looked after so that when the Tour weekend arrives, art fans and artists have a chance to connect in a relaxed, natural way.
The effort made by Moldovan and other tour members is on-going throughout the year. Most artists on the Tour help with various tasks, resulting in a seamlessly organized, fun event for all.
For the 25th anniversary, there are 23 artists in 11 studio locations participating in the Apsley Autumn Studio Tour on September 15 and 16, from 10am to 5pm.
Art fans are invited to come for a packed day or to plan for a leisurely, two-day outing – allowing extra time to take in and enjoy the wide variety of art and fine craft that will be on display.
As always, the Tour is self-guided. Studio tour brochures are available from many local shops, or the brochure and tour map can be downloaded from www.apsleystudiotour.com, where you can also view selected works from each of the participating artists.
Moldovan says that the locations are all easy to find.
“All the participating studio locations are marked with distinctive black and white ‘Studio Tour’
signs that will guide you to the artists and artisans of the Apsley Autumn Studio Tour.”
And for June Harris, who no longer participates in the Tour, on the third weekend in September she will be thinking about the legacy she helped to build so many years ago. She offers this bit of advice for anyone looking to organize a community event:
“If you have an idea, share it and see if you can get some interest,” she says. “This is a great legacy we leave and really – nothing ventured, nothing gained.”