As you enter the City of Pitt Meadows on Harris Road, a white overhead banner reads: Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Art Studio Tour.
This year’s tour will feature 31 artists from Ridge Meadows, who will open their home studio doors to the public from Saturday, May 13 to Sunday, May 14.
But the two-day event takes an army to put together.
Preparations for this year’s tour began in August 2022 and the new chair of the Art Studio Tour, Tracy Quinsey shared that it was an eye-opening experience for her.
As a non-profit organization, their events, just like many around the city, rely heavily on volunteers.
“Fascinating to me that there are so many committed volunteer leaders to put on all these events for the community. Nobody knows about them. They are behind the scenes. Everyone goes to these events but nobody knows who makes it happen year after year,” said Quinsey.
Through collective support from the City of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the tour is able to showcase in public spaces including the Heritage Hall in Pitt Meadows and Albion Community Centre in Maple Ridge.
Artists submit applications to be considered and once accepted, they pay $125 to be featured. All the funds gathered are invested into the operations of the tour, including advertisement and the new design of their website which was done at a minimal cost by a resident of Maple Ridge.
Although artists are not paid to be on tour, the hope is that community members show up and are interested in purchasing their artworks.
“Our main focus is not just on purchasing artwork, it’s the experience that we try to give to the public. So we’re trying really to create in each studio, something unique, something maybe educational, something for the neighbourhood to sort of get a glimpse into an artist’s life and we really encourage our artists to tell their stories because it’s fascinating, some of the stories on this tour,” Quinsey added.
Some featured artists have been on tour for decades. An artist on tour once raised $100,000 through the sale of her artwork and donated the sum to charity.
Residents will have the opportunity to appreciate artworks including pottery, woodwork, jewelry, mixed media, painting and more.
Most artists are women. But Quinsey shared that the tour still lacks diversity, not necessarily reflective of the communities they tour in.
“We tried hard to try to recruit diversity because we really wanted some of the artists to come out. We wanted to be, you know, to serve the community and to be representative of our diverse community. but just seemed like we represent this older perhaps, a very white kinda community. And we’re trying to really change that and encourage other artists to step up.”
She added that compared to the Cultural Crawl, the tour allows people to visit artists on working farms, log homes, and take in stunning views of the Fraser River, to allow for a relaxing experience.
Taking place annually on Mother’s Day, the tour began in 1998 to connect artists and the community.