The summer months are normally filled with art fairs, shows, and tours, however, this year many of these events have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With many of these events canceled, a group of Otter Tail County artists decided to create there own small art tour. “We had decided that it was important for us to bring people into our studios,” Sandra Shaughnessy, owner of Clayhouse Pottery Studio on Rush Lake and an organizer of the event, said. “That we could create the necessary precautions -- we want to make sure our patrons are safe. We can follow Minnesota safety guidelines for the COVID and in your studio, there are systems that you can do.”
The Otter Tail County Art Tour is free to the public and includes the work of 16 different artists from Otter Tail County in six different studios from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 15 and 16. The tour will be self-guided with no order that tour-goers must follow, and will allow people to see the work of local artists and the process in which it was created.
Because the tour is being kept small, people can do all six studios in one day, or choose which ones they want to go to. People also have the option to break up the tour over two days, “three a day. How low anxiety is that?” Shari Krause, an owner at Pine Mill Farm Furniture Co., said.
Brochures for the event will distributed through the artist's individual mailing lists, the Perham Chamber of Commerce, local stores and Art Centers in Ottertail, Battle Lake and New York Mills, according to Shaughnessy.
“It use to be were people were satisfied to go and see the fairs,” Mary Jo Wentz, an artist whose work will be on display at Off the Wall Studio, said. “But today they do want to commit to learning about the process. They’re interested in it and they always have questions.”
“The part that’s been really hard for me this summer is that I’m used to having people around,” Shirlee Daulton, owner of The Arthouse, said. “I miss the people.”
“Even though that shows and fairs are canceled, people are still calling us. People miss their art fix,” Shaughnessy said.
People will be able to get their art fix in this tour. They are also being asked to follow the current Minnesota COVID-19 guidelines and the guidelines of the studios for going through them while on the tour. The studios in the tour will be asking people to wear their masks, sanitize their hands, and understand that there will be a limited number of people allowed in the studio at a time, Shaughnessy said.
“I’m going to ask that people look with there eyes first. It’s hard especially if you see something like a beautiful mug,” Shaughnessy said. “ One of the great things about that is to pick it up, to feel the balance in your hand, and see what really fits your fingers.”
“It’s important that we share our art with people,” Shaughnessy said. People want to see the process, wear artist work, and what their inspiration is, she said. “We feel that with his small tour we can follow guidelines so people can be safe.”
Studios and artists on the tour:
The Arthouse, Ottertail: Shirlee Daulton
Clayhouse Pottery Studio, Ottertail: Sandra Shaughnessy
The Potter-Daughter, Ottertail: Lori Charest
Pine Mill Farm Furniture Co., Ottertail: Roger and Shari Krause
Pam Reipe, Richville.
Off the Wall Studio, Clitherall: Owner Robyn Olson; artists Shirley Arsenault, Deb Connolly, Della Conroy, Jillayne Hason, Phyllis Joos, Kerry Kolke-Bonk, Bill Seykora, Merodie Seykora, Mary Jo Wentz, and Mary E. Williams