The Kissing Bridge Trail Studio Tour is celebrating 20 years. The event puts the spotlight on artists in the township and their work.
Artists can show off their work in their studios, or also in more host spaces.
This year’s showcasing artists offer up a variety of mediums, including fiber art, painting, fine art photography and woodwork. The event runs October 22 and 23, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it’s free.
“To raise the visibility of arts and culture in any community is to sort of develop an identity of a community. It’s not only that art fills people with joy to view and to consume, but I think that it describes a community. So by keeping this going, I think it’s been a very special treasure in that way of putting a lens on what it means to be Woolwich community, Woolwich Township, and the heritage of our area,” said Carolyn Parks, a St. Jacobs-based fibre artist.
Parks reflects on how far the event has come and where it is heading into the future. “The challenge is to keep it vibrant and populated.
“I live in St. Jacobs, and I have a studio in St. Jacobs., and I think that is a beautiful area. Woolwich Township has so much to offer people who are coming into the area. I believe that it’s kind of my responsibility, not only just for my own benefit and for the individual benefits of each artist, but to keep the arts alive in this very lush environment because we have so much to offer visitors,” she said.
The tour is not only a way for artists to sell and promote their art, but important for motivation and building community, she added.
“It’s nice to make art, but when you have it all sitting around forever, it can be a little bit – I think for some people I can’t speak for all, but it probably is a little demotivating to have all your artwork sitting against the wall, depending on the art form, of course, just sitting there. It’s validating and it makes it real when it goes into the hands of a new owner. It’s like handing over your baby and saying, ‘Here you go. Now it’s your baby, now you can enjoy.’”
The pandemic was particularly challenging for the tour, says Parks.
“You can lose peoples’ interest over a pandemic, right? I mean, if there’s three years where the tour is not happening, or for two years, where it’s not happening in person, I think that you can affect people’s motivation. But what we did during the pandemic was we kept it rolling – it was all virtual tour,” she said. They also had a few displays where people could view the art through a window.
Parks is a wool painter. She creates art with wet felt including wall art or other items like table runners.
Melissa Passmore is one of the artists on the tour this year. She creates floral still life pieces with acrylics.
“I have always loved art, but began my current regular practice in 2018,” Passmore said. She paints out of a home studio in Elmira and her work has been featured in galleries in Ontario, and is featured in private collections, she said. She is a registered respiratory therapist part-time, and an artist part-time as well.
“Promoting and supporting artists and businesses in our community is so important so that we can continue to have a vibrant and thriving area,” she said.
Gord Maier is another artist on this year’s tour. He creates home décor items from reclaimed wine barrels. He makes pieces like lazy susans, clocks, candle holders and the like.
“I did participate once before, it was great, meeting loads of interesting people from near and far, all looking to support local artists,” he said.
Maier says he had a shed that held some supplies that burnt down in the spring. He is working on rebuilding it.
“There is very little that artists love more than talking about their artwork and passions. There is so much behind the scenes about being an artist that is interesting and exciting. Visitors are able to view a wide variety of art subjects and mediums in one tour in comfortable and inviting spaces. We would love to see our community come out and support us and allow us to share our creative journeys,” said Passmore.
“I think if people take the time, they’ll be surprised at the quality of artists that we have in our township,” said Maier.
To mark the special 20 year anniversary, this year the tour map itself is a piece of art, created by participating artist Della vanDokkumburg.
The final details of how the anniversary will be marked are still being determined, but Parks anticipates local bands playing at Rural Roots, one of the host locations, and Block Three will re-release the label they had partnered with the tour over a few years ago, and Neruda Arts in St. Jacobs will be hosting an event on Friday, said Parks.
To apply to become an artist on the tour, artists fill in the application form by the end of April. Their work is judged by the tour’s panel of jury artists who select the final featured artists.
Going forward into the future, Parks is very excited about the arts community.
“I always love to think outside the box in terms of collaboration. How can we collaborate in innovative ways with our greater community like businesses and other organizations to always add some kind of a twist, keep it interesting and fresh,” she said.
“I would really like to spotlight the various artists, because that’s what kind of makes it exciting is the diversity of people we have involved and the partners,” she said.
Parks adds that this event couldn’t happen and keep peoples’ interest if “we didn’t have artists that are offering something really high quality and unique and different every year.” More information can be found online at www.kbtstudiotour.ca.