Brown County art studios open to the public for October


Sidney Bolam uses a dremel tool to carve a heron into limestone at her studio, Bohemian Hobbit Studio. Bolam is part of the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour, which runs Oct. 1-31 and features over 20 artists. Emily Eckelbarger Buy Photos

Homemade brooms, stone carvings and much more art can be found along the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour.

The tour is free and allows any person to follow a map through Brown County, Indiana that marks 17 working art studios displaying the work of 27 artists. It opened Oct. 1 and will run until the end of the month.

The map can be found online or at the Bloomington visitor center. The tour is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with any exceptions noted on the map.

The tour has taken place every October for nearly 20 years, according to a press release from the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour. 

Media chair and artist participant Michele Pollack said that beyond the many active studios on the tour, one of the stops includes the historic studio and home of T.C. Steele, one of the first artists to move to Brown County for its scenery. 

However, the tour is more than informational; it's interactive, Pollack said. 

"They can look, they can shop and all of us do demonstrations," Pollack said. "So I invite people into the studio, and I show them how I create the work I create. You get a lot of one-on-one time with the artist. So if you're interested in that, you could talk to them about their work, where they live and how they built their studios."

Artist Monique Cagl has been on the tour for more than five years with various types of artwork from crochet to paintings. She said that the tour gives customers an opportunity to have a more intimate experience. 

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"I think people really like that experience of coming out to a studio and seeing where the artist lives and works," Cagle said. "So it's partly about sharing my artwork, and it's partly about involving people in the process of making art. So it's more of an experience for them rather than just going to a gallery and observing it there."

Besides customers getting the opportunity to see the artists' studios, the engagement artists take away from the tour is extremely valuable, Pollack said. 

"I can say, as an artist, I think it's crucial for me to get that interaction with customers," Pollack said. "I learn what they're interested in. I learn how to explain what I do to people."

The type of artwork that can be seen on the tour as well as the price point varies greatly, Pollack said. Jewelry, weaving, calligraphy, mosaics and limestone carvings are just a few of the art forms in the tour. 

Pollack referenced her own work of stitched paper art and hand-bound books as an example of how widely prices vary. Pollack said she has pieces for sale that start at $6.50 and go as high as $1,000. 

While the tour gives residents of Brown County and neighboring areas the chance to shop locally, Cagle said the perks of this annual tour applies beyond the individual and to the Brown County art community as a whole. 

"There's a whole collection of artists here in Brown County, and we've kind of built up friendships and relationships with each other so that we work together to help promote the arts as a whole in Brown County, rather than just promoting our own individual arts," Cagle said.

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