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A chance to see where the art happens

The Kissing Bridge Studio Tour will take place this weekend at locations all across the Woolwich Township. Woodblock printing art by Melissa Kristensen-Smith. [Submitted]

The 16th annual Kissing Bridge Studio Tour aims to showcase and celebrate local artists of all types, from jewelry makers to bookbinders. While the event is free, art can be purchased at any of stops along the way.

“Art through design is in every aspect of our lives from the houses we live in, to the clothes we wear,” said Kelly Martin, a jewelry artist. “Some artist or designer somewhere came up with the concept or design. Art isn’t just pretty paintings to hang on your wall!”

Eighteen artists will be participating in the 2018 tour, with studio locations all across the area, including River Song Banquet Hall Café in St. Jacobs, Thorn Glass in Hawkesville, and the EcoCafe in St. Jacobs. Artists outside of Woolwich are referred to as guest artists.

Photographer Melissa Kristensen-Smith is one of those guest artists, hailing from Guelph. This is her first year participating in the KBST, and she will be displaying her work at the River Song Café location along with several other artists.

“I’ve been a photographer for over 25 years,” said Kristensen-Smith. “I have specialized on printing on wood for the last six. You see, a lot of people print on metal, or they print on glass; I just wanted more texture – I didn’t want a super flat surface. And my husband’s always worked with wood, so we wanted to print on wood.

“I’m printing on a surface that’s very uneven, so you have to be very careful. The reason we like doing it is that is you see all the grain, and the anomalies come through. It’s usually oak, maple, ash, sometimes hemlock. It depends on where we get the wood.”

While they do have a number of businesses as sponsors, the tour is put on by an artist’s collective. It was founded by  potter Natalie Prevost in 2002. She felt the need to establish “something” to promote artisans and art within Woolwich Township. Since then, the tradition has continued for years.

While they generally have a turnover in artists, there are ones that have stayed since the very beginning, such as Irene Dickau, who works in oils and creates fabric works. She’s participated every year but one since the event started.

“Change is good,” said Martin. “This way it keeps things fresh and interesting for our visitors. Even when you have been on the tour for a while, you still want to change the work that you do.”

Other pieces included in the studio tour include pottery, printmaking, 2-D and 3-D ceramics, blown and cast glass, illustration, and photography. Martin encourages newcomers from all over to participate and submit their work.

“We have a jurying committee,” said Martin, on the selection process. “The process is that an artist submits an application form along with samples of their work. That gets along to the jury committee to be approved or not. We have only rejected two artists in our history and only because the artists were still developing their technique. When an artist is selected, they can choose what they want to display. The only criteria is that the artist lives in Woolwich or must have a location to display in Woolwich.”

Martin added that while they were selective as to the quality of the art, they were pretty open. Some locations take credit cards but not all; cash remains universal, however.

The event will run this weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. across various locations. Click here for more information.

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