There’s a new kid on the block of Hopewell’s annual Tour des Arts, and thanks to his contributions, it is now easier to navigate. There is a website featuring each of the artists and a brochure that has been distributed in the region.
Don Campbell, a sculptor who specializes in portraits, moved to Skillman four years ago. He discovered the Tour, now in its ninth year, in 2014. “I love the sense of community among these artists in Hopewell,” he says. “The Tour is an opportunity to talk to artists and share ideas. I love going into artists’ studios, watching them work and talking to them in the environment they create in. It gives me the chance to see what motivates them.” When he discovered the Tour des Arts, “I knew I had to be a part of it.”
This year’s two-day self-guided studio tour of 35 Hopewell Valley painters, sculptors, ceramic artists, jewelers, photographers, woodworkers and others is scheduled for Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, October 2, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and begins at the Hopewell Train Station.
Campbell discovered the Tour through Sean Mannix and his Highland Design Farm. Mannix, an industrial designer and one of the founders of the Tour, has a wood and metalworking shop at Highland Design Farm, a former chicken coop that was converted to artist studios in 1975. Campbell had considered renting space from Mannix at Highland Design Farm, but no studios were available and he found an ideal location right on Hopewell’s Broad Street. In what had previously been an antiques store he put in a new wood floor, painted the walls, added a small kitchen and refurbished the bathroom. Located between Ruth Morpeth Gallery (she is another of the Tour’s founders, along with Mannix and jeweler Beth Ann Judge) and the studios of Tour artists Armando Sosa and Karen McLean Peterson, Campbell’s sparkling new gallery creates a sort of art district on the block.
But he was a wee bit late for last year’s Tour, still painting the gallery walls.
“I set the standards high,” he says when complimented on how comprehensive the new website is. “I want everyone to see how fantastic the Tour is.”
Some of the artists will be exhibiting at the Hopewell Train Station. Artist Janet Purcell, an art reviewer for the Times of Trenton as well as a novelist, will be showing her paintings of oceans and marshes, beaches and clam beds of Cape Cod. While seemingly about objects of beauty, her scenes are spaces for quiet contemplation. Lucia Stout, a farmer and activist who is part of a painting collective at the Station with Purcell, also paints contemplative scenes of farmland and dramatic skies. Looking at her russet-colored landscapes, one makes comparisons to the surroundings in Hopewell this time of year.
Thom Montenari also creates landscapes that could be Hopewell or Vermont, and often paints vintage cars in these settings. “I have always believed that the automobile will leave an indelible footprint on our global history and culture.”
Another writer/artist, Sally Stang makes collages of petals, leaves, stems, pods and the occasional insect wing and feather. “Each petal and leaf is painstakingly colored with loose pastel dust, which is pure pigment, to prevent fading,” she says of the intricate designs. “Although I believe that the images of flora and fauna are imprinted in our memories in a deeply familiar, biomorphic way, our ancestors’ survival depended on memorizing which flowers produced which fruit, which were poisonous, etc.”
Although she hasn’t always considered herself an artist, Stang says she has always been a maker, a concocter. Before discovering pressed-flower art, “I once made a raincoat out of Wonderbread wrappers and an Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks.”
A map of the tour, as well as information on all the artists, is at the website.
The Artful Blogger is written by Ilene Dube and offers a look inside the art world of the greater Princeton area. Ilene Dube is an award-winning arts writer and editor, as well as an artist, curator and activist for the arts.