Williamstown Township studio tour welcomes newcomers


According to local artist Ron Cook, studio tours allow patrons to connect with artists more intimately than typical art exhibitions.

“When you go to a gallery, the work is on the wall, and you can talk to a curator. With a studio tour, you can visit with the artist directly and ask about their process and inspiration. You get a more in-depth look into their choices and how the work is made,” he said.

Cook developed his artistic point of view in the late 1960s while taking fine art classes at Michigan State University. Although he didn’t graduate with a degree in art, he’s maintained a lifelong interest in painting.

“There was an active and wonderful group of professors in the art department, and a lot of the work was abstract or semi-abstract. That’s my greatest interest, although I do some traditional and representational work,” he said.

Cook will exhibit his work at the annual Williamstown Township Artists’ Fine Art Sale & Studio Tour, running 5 to 9 p.m. Friday (May 3) and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (May 4). This year’s event features seven stops where attendees can browse local art, snack on appetizers and observe artists in their natural habitats.

Township Supervisor Wanda Bloomquist said the tour will welcome six new artists who either responded to the township’s call for art or were invited directly by participating artists. She’s especially excited that one of the tour’s founders, Bobbi Kilty, will open her personal studio to the public for the first time. Kilty creates abstract paintings, collages and mixed-media pieces featuring Lansing-area places, people and things.

Bloomquist has been with the township for 18 years and has been involved in the art tour since its inception more than 13 years ago. She considers herself an appreciator of the arts.

“Summer of 23,” an acrylic painting on canvas by Ron Cook.
“Summer of 23,” an acrylic painting on canvas by Ron Cook.

“I’ve taken ceramics classes, but I’m more of a wannabe,” she said with a laugh. “I do own a lot of art from these artists, just because it’s so good. Our home is full of art.”

She described the tour as “a wonderful event that gets people driving throughout the countryside.”

“We have people who come in from the surrounding areas and make a day of it. You could see a few studios on Friday night and visit the rest during the day on Saturday,” she said.

Tickets are $5 and available at each tour stop. Proceeds will directly benefit the township’s playgrounds. Tickets can also be used to enter an art raffle.

“As part of this event, each artist creates a piece to be raffled off. You can write your name and the number of the item you want to win and turn that in, so your ticket is also your raffle entry,” Bloomquist said.

The venues include the Township Hall, local business Williamston Wellness and five artist studios. A total of 21 artists will showcase works in various mediums, such as jewelry, leather, painting, photography, glass and clay.

The furthest stop on the tour is Christine Beals’ studio. Known as Folk Art by Christine Beals on Instagram, she regularly posts her unique style of contemporary folk art inspired by nature. Her pieces are informed by sacred geometry, outsider art and animals — especially birds.

Tour newcomer Teagan Chatterley studied fine art at Michigan State University and has a master’s degree in design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She describes her work, which she’ll exhibit at her father’s studio, as  “informed by quirky objects” as well as the natural world and social interactions.

“Mark Chatterley’s studio is almost like going onto the set for ‘Avatar,’” said tour facilitator Gwen Brandon. “He has 10-foot-tall clay sculptures outside in the meadow. It’s a very beautiful, natural setting. And this year, his daughter is joining him, so we’ll get to see her coming up and being an active artist in the community.”

Tour chair Mary Curtis Fritz will also open her studio to the public, showing work alongside local artists Susan Daniels, Doug DeLind, Carol Ray and Bill Selanders. Fritz is also active in the Cracked Pot Studio Tour and the Red Barn Pottery ceramics community.

“Garden Bunny,” a ceramic sculpture by Mary Curtis Fritz.
“Garden Bunny,” a ceramic sculpture by Mary Curtis Fritz.

As Cook reminisced about his history with the tour, he said, “One of the great quotes that I try to go back to is by Picasso, who said, ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ I try not to be too perfect, to be more spontaneous and to go back to that time when I didn’t have a lot of preconceived notions about how to draw or what makes a good drawing. Children see something and draw or paint it, and it’s a very pure expression of emotion. I like to try and get to that.”

Williamstown Township Artists’ Fine Art Sale & Studio Tour

5-9 p.m. Friday, May 3

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 4


See williamstown.us.engagementhq.com for a map of venues


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