Cay Maria Adams has lived traveled – and lived – all over the world in pursuit of her painting. But her art also brought her back to her native Hunterdon County.
“It is a perfect place of beauty and peace to synthesize my widely-varied life experiences and the rapidly changing world around us,” she says of the region.
Adams, who maintains a second-floor studio on Bridge Street in Milford, will be one of more than 30 artists and artisans throughout county this weekend participating in The Hunterdon Art Tour, or THAT, a free, self-guided studio tour.
Their work spans a broad spectrum that reaches from drawing and painting to photography and mixed media, sculpture and woodworking to jewelry and glass. But they all share at least one thing in common, of course: the place where they work. For many, like Adams, Hunterdon County is also a significant source of their inspiration.
Dave Norton is a portrait photographer by trade, but his passion project is documenting the massive Victorian homes that populate Flemington Borough, where, earlier this year, he and his wife, Ally, opened The Corner, part-gift boutique, part-photography studio.
“We moved to Historic Flemington a few years ago and fell in love with its charm and small-town spirit, and it’s why we chose here to open up our very first storefront,” the couple says on The Corner’s website.
Parts of the Delaware River Towns are known far and wide by art lovers and serious collectors, thanks largely to the Pennsylvania Impressionists. Today, bands of plein air painters and the occasional landscape photographer can be spotted amid the early-morning fog along the towpath or in the late-afternoon shadows of Prallsville Mills.
Still, it can be difficult to tell just how many bona fide artists are living among us. Therein lies the goal of the tour: to minimize the barriers and reconnect the creatives with the creative-minded – and, of course, the art makers with the art buyers – the way they were in Phillip Lloyd Powell and Paul Evans’ heyday.
“THAT’s open studios tour is envisioned as a signature event through which artists, arts educators, cultural leaders, and creative-minded people can find each other, form peer groups, foster opportunities for collaboration, curate events and exhibitions, and engage youth through the schools,” a statement on the tour’s website reads.
After 13 months of living in relative isolation, we could all use a little help reconnecting.
So, how should you approach this weekend’s tour? Trying to make it around to every studio, while ambitious, might also undermine your ability to pull much of anything from each stop. Instead, visit the tour’s website. On the homepage, you’ll find a collection of images, one for each artist featured in the tour. Click on an image and you’ll be led to a short biography and, in most instances, an address for the artist’s studio.
Spend a little time clicking on your favorite images and learning about the artists behind them. Then take what will likely be a long list of names and start narrowing it down by location – make an afternoon of it, with breaks for lunch and coffee – or interest, maybe. Who really speaks to you?
As you let yourself be seduced, take note. Many artists have special instructions on their pages. Lots will only be available at certain times over the weekend. Others want you to text or call ahead of your arrival. They’re opening their most sacred place to us. Really, it’s the least we can do.
Also, masks and social-distancing will be required at each stop. That’s actually the least we can do.