Annual studio tour planned this weekend

Mike Easterling
This bookcase by Steven Barr is one of the pieces by the artist that will be featured in 'Art Matters,' the 13th annual art sale and studio tour taking place this weekend.

FARMINGTON – Many years ago, when she presented the inaugural version of what would turn into one of the area’s more popular annual art events, Sarah Teofanov found she had almost been too successful in her effort.

People had too good a time, as it turns out.

“We served wine, and nobody left,” she said, laughing. “They all sat around, going, ‘This is wonderful!’ I said, ‘Yeah, but you have to go now.’”

Teofanov had rounded up a group of five local artists to bring their work to her home studio, done an email blast to all her friends and associates in the local art community promoting the show, and was astounded when 150 people showed up on the appointed date two weeks later to have a look. That was the origin of “Art Matters,” the annual Crouch Mesa art sale and studio tour that now features three studios and 17 artists. The 13th installment of the tour takes place this weekend.

'Singing in the Rain' by Melissa Silversmith will be among the artist's pieces showcased in the 'Art Matters' art sale and studio tour this weekend.

Included in this year’s show are studio hosts Teofanov, Liz Stannard and Janet McHaley Burns, as well as Lou Mancel, Janet Grenawalt, Beverly Todd, Tory Teofanov, Doug McNealy, Steven Barr, Patrick Hazen, Roswell, Lauren McNealy, Sue Johnson, Beau Betoni, Melissa Silversmith, Catherine Thomas Kemp and Michael Billie. Eight members of that group – Silversmith, Betoni, Barr, Hazen, Roswell, McNealy, Tory Teofanov and Todd – are new to the tour.

As always, each studio will feature demonstrations by some of the artists, live music by such performers at Rick Hatfield and Eric Campbell, and food. A number of pieces in media ranging from paintings, prints, mixed media, encaustic and fiber to jewelry, cards, metal, ceramics, beaded mixed media, woodwork and more will be offered for sale. And drawings will be held for artwork that can be won by visitors who stop at each studio and get their “passport” stamped.

After that first effort, Teofanov enlisted some help and watched as the tour has grown into a fall tradition.

“The following year, Liz (Stannard) and Janet (McHaley Burns) said, ‘Hey, that was great — can we join in?’” Teofanov said. “They brought a lot more organization to it.”

The way the community has embraced the event has been gratifying to her, she said.

Pottery by Beverly Todd will be displayed during 'Art Matters' this weekend at three art studios on Crouch Mesa.

“I love the studio tour, and I love it when people come because it’s not intimidating,” she said. “It’s very accessible. You don’t have to buy — just come and be inspired.”

Stannard echoed Teofanov’s belief that the informal nature of the tour sometimes attracts people who might be uncomfortable about wandering into an art gallery or museum.

“I think it’s been a pretty effective event,” she said. “It’s surprising to me how many people we get from the community – not just the folks who come to the art openings or the art walks. It’s been a very good way to communicate with the public about art.”

That accessibility helps break down the usual barriers between artist and observer, Stannard said.

“Here, they’re right in the nitty-gritty,” she said. “They see what you’re working with. They see your materials. It’s not an abstract thing. It’s more unstructured and more tangible. I know I’ve had the best conversations with people about why I do what I do at these tours. It’s just different. I think the studio is a great place to bring the public into.”

This painting by Tory Teofanov will be featured in the 'Art Matters' art show and studio tour this weekend on Crouch Mesa.

One of the new artists this year, Barr, was excited to be asked to show his work and is looking forward to the experience. A wood worker, he said he expects to bring 50 to 75 of his pieces to show at Stannard’s gallery, a collection that includes intricate cutting boards, platters and small boxes. He also hopes to show some of his larger furniture pieces if space allows and indicated he would be receptive to the idea of making his own recently completed studio part of the tour next year if organizers agree.

“We just moved here last October, and I’ve been building my shop,” he said, explaining that he and his wife, a potter, have an 1,800-square-foot studio at their home in Aztec.

Stannard’s studio is located in her unfinished basement, where she crafts her mixed-media pieces to musical accompaniment that usually consists of vinyl recordings of Neil Young or the Rolling Stones.

“Because I work in there, it doesn’t progress very much,” she said of the under-construction look in her basement. “But if it works for what I’m doing, it doesn’t bother me that it’s unfinished.”

Work by ceramics artist Beau Betoni is part of the 'Art Matters' art show and studio tour planned for this weekend.

She said she employs almost every square inch of that space for her various projects.

“Now, it’s killing me because I have to clean it up,” she said, laughing and referring to the preparation work she faced before this weekend’s tour.

Teofanov said her entire house, not just her studio, reflects what she does.

“We have a large house that’s filled with art,” she said. “I think it’s always a surprise to people that there are people here who live like that.”

Teofanov described her studio as “very female” and a “permission-giving environment,” and said when she and her husband were building their home, their contractor was surprised when she told him she didn’t want any windows in her studio.

Her reasoning for that, she explained, is that she is not a plein air or landscape painter. She draws her inspiration from within.

This mixed-media piece by the artist Roswell is part of the 'Art Matters' sale and studio tour this weekend on Crouch Mesa.

“I do garden shrines and hearts of compassion,” she said, adding that her artwork even inspired her to examine her own parenting style.

“I decided to stop fighting with my children and start listening more,” she said.

Teofanov acknowledged she’s hardly the model of a traditional Southwestern artist and said even her garden shrines are often misunderstood.
“People ask me, ‘Can I put this in my garden?’ and I say, ‘Absolutely not – it’s a metaphor. You’re the garden. Nurture it. Take care of it,’” she said.

Teofanov said she’s never had any reservations about opening the doors to her studio, or her home, and inviting in the public, though she laughed when she said her husband has been known to grumble about it from time to time. She said providing that kind of access to people can help take some of the mystery out of the creative process.

This wood burning piece by Lauren McNealy is included in 'Art Matters,' an art sale and studio tour taking place this weekend.

“We’re workers – we just make art,” she said. “And I think it reminds people that they can do that, too.”

Each studio on the tour once again will serve as a drop-off spot for nonperishable food items brought by visitors. Teofanov said the food will be taken to ECHO Inc. headquarters for the organization’s food bank.

“We bring in lots and lots of poundage for ECHO,” she said. “People can bring in nonperishable food, and we’ll cart it down there for them. It’s really a neat way to connect art to the larger community. When we started this, I was really adamant about that. I think every time we gather as a community, we should be collecting food for the food bank.”

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

'Shiprock' by photographer Patrick Hazen will be featured in an art sale and studio tour taking place this weekend on Crouch Mesa.

What: “Art Matters,” the 13th annual art sale and studio tour on Crouch Mesa

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Where: Sarah Teofanov’s studio at 30 Road 3773, Liz Stannard’s studio at 236 Road 3950 and Janet McHaley Burns’ studio at 1400 Williams Drive

To obtain a map: Visit the Henderson Fine Arts Center on the San Juan College campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington, or the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St.; or email