Ah, yes, that subtly cooler breeze you feel right there? That’s the sign of winter in Florida. The next seasonal signal to get you in holiday mode (and no, it’s not pumpkin spice lattes) is when you start seeing art and craft shows pop up by the dozens. ArtJones Open Studio Tour in Gulfport on Dec. 2-3 is one of the few that stands out from the herd for your unique gift search.
“There’s a lot of competition, but I think the combination of the caliber of work and the intrigue of the studios make Gulfport shine. The closeness of a smaller town makes a more intimate experience. This is about getting to know our art community better,” says Brenda McMahon, a ceramic artist who spearheaded the ArtJones Studio Tour initiative.
While this studio tour was supposed to have kicked off last year, a variety of reasons made it not possible to get off the ground. Besides, the best things ought not be rushed.
“This past year I’ve spent researching artists, and just went for it this year. Gulfport is known as an artist’s community, but what wasn’t being shown was the professional artist community. There is so much that people don’t know about — we’re traveling and showing nationally and internationally. We work quietly, toiling away in the backs of our houses, and you wouldn’t even know it by looking at the front of our houses,” McMahon explains.
Just like how Seminole Heights recently pulled together the Heights Studio Tour, you can tour 12 Gulfport artists’ between 10 studios on your own schedule and get to see where the magic happens. And you have many transportation options: drive yourself, take your bicycle for a cruise, or park your car at the Gulfport Library and take the free art bus that will be doing loops all day long Saturday and Sunday. Big green signs will lead the way to the studios for those fearful of getting lost. (You can download the map for the self-guided tour and event brochure on their website.)
“It’s a really cool collection of people, I’m really proud of the group. The focus is on the concept of the mess of the studio that gets turned into the mastery of creation,” McMahon says.
Between the artists, there’s a nice diversity of mediums, techniques, and styles with ceramics, glass, metal and mosaic sculptors, abstract painters, contemporary painters and landscape painting. Owen Pach (Stop 6) will offer glassblowing demonstrations (which I highly recommend if you’ve never seen glassblowing before).
Worried about cost? They got ya: works will range from $15 and up, so there are price points for everyone.
“I have a big vision for ArtJones in the future — this is only the beginning of it. I definitely think it’s going to grow in the future. There are a lot of great work coming out of Gulfport and so much excitement over here. Artists are some of the friendliest people and we love to share our world with others. The studio tours break down barriers so this is a great opportunity for people to feel that they can come in and ask questions and learn,” McMahon says.