Open Studios Tour triggers close encounters with lakeside artists

This weekend is bonanza time for art lovers with the third annual Open Studios Tour offering endless opportunities to get behind the walls for close-up encounters with 59 local artists. Organized by the Ajijic Society of the Arts (ASA), the event runs Saturday, February 8 and Sunday, February 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., for self-guided visits to 18 different locations.

Unlike day-to-day gallery hopping, Open Studios allows you to engage directly with the artists, to chat about their work and take in demonstrations or presentations on varied creative methods. You’ll find a full gamut of media, ranging from watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings, pencil and pastel sketches, collage, mixed media, sculpture and photography to handmade jewelry and assorted crafts fashioned from fibers, textiles, ceramics and glass.

The tour route spans east to west from Riberas del Pilar to Rancho del Oro, with ten of the venues concentrated in central Ajijic. Special hot spots on the west end include Galeria Axixic, Rio Zula 1 at Ocampo, where paintings generated in the Lake Chapala Society Children’s Art Program (CAP) will be exhibited next to works by brothers Jesús and Antonio López Vega, and the private studio at Rio Amazonas 19-B, Rancho del Oro, where Cynthia duBois and Sunny Sorensen will be working with a live nude model to explore polishing techniques to depict the human figure.

The glossy bilingual Open Studios passport is the ticket for admission to all locations. It lists all participating artists in alphabetical order by first name, including addresses to find each one on the tour, his or her art media preference and personal contact information.  Four pages of number-coded maps at the back of the book serve as a guide to each stop on the circuit.

The passports, selling for 50 pesos per person, may be purchased at the gate to any tour venue and from most of lakeside’s prominent galleries. A 50- percent cut of proceeds is set aside for CAP sponsorship, with the remainder going towards Open Studio production costs and other ASA activities. Last year’s tour netted 6,500 pesos to help fund the highly successful CAP summer camp program.

Passports are also good for getting into the beach parking area located in front of the original Posada Ajijic on the east side of the pier at a cut-rate price of ten pesos per vehicle.