“It’s an opportunity for people to see artists in their studios where all the creative stuff happens,” said Brenda McMahon, tour founder. McMahon is also a ceramicist artist and participant in the tour. “We are diverse in the kinds of art we’re doing and that’s one of the things we want in the tour – balance.”
New this year is a studio passport to encourage visitors to experience the entire breadth of the tour, she said.
After visitors get their passport card stamped at all 15 studios, they can turn their cards in at the last stop for a chance to win one of 18 pieces of art donated by the participating artists. One artist who was on the inaugural tour but couldn’t participate this year also donated a piece, said McMahon. Cynthia Dill, a painter, will be back in 2019.
Passport cards have been available around Gulfport for about two weeks and they may be picked up at any studio on the days of the tours, she said. The raffle drawing will be held during the week of December 3.
When McMahon first moved to Gulfport about 10 years ago, she knew the city was known for art.
“Yet, I never really knew where the arts community was,” she said. “There didn’t seem to be an organized place where artists were.”
That’s what eventually gave her the idea to organize a studio tour in Gulfport, something she has done in two other cities.
“So many of the people here love and appreciate art,” said McMahon. “They may be makers, watchers, appreciators or collectors but almost everybody gets it.”
For the first year, 12 artists were “hand selected by recommendations of others because I didn’t know a lot of people in town,” she said.
For the second year, the original 12 did an internal jury selection process to invite new participating artists, said McMahon.
As a group, Art Jones members look at potential artists and consider “the appropriateness of everything,” she said. Criteria considered include, “background, years of experience and if they actually have a studio to show. It’s not just about creativity, though that’s certainly part of it.”
Art Jones is both a studio tour and art sale.
“The show part is where artists are describing and explaining their process in person,” said McMahon. Some artists will also be demonstrating techniques like a spinning potter’s wheel or the use of a glass-blowing furnace and related tools.
Who is Art Jones?
“A lot of people don’t understand the name Art Jones. It’s not a person,” she said. “It’s playing with the idea that you’re ‘jonesing’ for [or craving] something like a donut, a cup of coffee or art. We’re tapping into the want or desire.
“We’ve created this incredibly exciting open studio tour where we say, ‘we are the working artists of Gulfport.’ There are more of us who will join the tour over the years.”
Her vision is to “expand the tour so that it is visual arts by day and performing arts by night.” She wants to see musicians and those in the performance arts become a part of it.
“I’d like to see more studio arts become a part of it. I would like the heart and soul – that vibration of Gulfport to really resonate in the Art Jones movement over the coming years,” she said.
Tour dates: Saturday, December 1 studios are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 2 the hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For a full list of artists and a detailed studio tour locator map, visit artjonesstudiotour.com/images/2018Tour.pdf.