After going virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Gabriola Arts Council’s Thanksgiving Studio Tour is back and in-person for its 25th year.
From Oct. 9 to 11 the GAC presents the 25th annual Thanksgiving Studio Tour. This year 67 artists are showcasing their work in 58 studios. Starting Oct. 7, tour central will be open at Folklife Village, offering a day-long preview gallery and musical performances in the evenings.
Glass blowers Dirk Huysman and Mary Ann Richards are also celebrating an anniversary, as this is the 10th year their D’dance Glass studio is part of the tour. Huysman said there’s an “economic benefit” to participating in the studio tour, but it’s also “a really exciting time.”
“In 2019 we had 700 people, which was crazy but it’s wonderful,” Huysman said. “We blow glass the whole time so we’re giving demonstrations and kind of being ambassadors to the creation of glass art and what that all entails and how that happens. It’s not often what we do we do with an audience so it’s a real feedback loop of energy.”
Barring any power outages or equipment failures Huysman said he and Richards will doing demonstrations again. Most of the work they’ll have on display is either sculpted or hand-blown glass and all the pieces are collaborative. Huysman said “some of the vessels are more sculptural than they are functional, some of them are a little more functional than sculpture.”
“We have a real variety of stuff we make. We’re probably a little crazy,” he said. “I say we suffer from over-eclecticism.”
Last year Huysman and Richards kept their studio open over the Thanksgiving weekend for small groups by appointment only. This year he said they’re looking forward to returning to “a full-on tour.”
Among the artists making their Thanksgiving Studio Tour debut is Seraphina Khepera, a photographer and painter from Guatemala who moved to the island last October after spending time in Germany, Eastern Europe and Montreal. She said she was looking to buy a home on the Gulf Islands and Gabriola was “exactly what I was envisioning.”
“So far I love it, to be honest,” she said. “I mean the winters are a bit gloomy and dark, but other than that the community has been great. I’ve been going a lot to the markets and staying active there and just meeting lots of people.”
Khepera is a documentary photographer and will be displaying images of Holocaust survivors and refugees in Iraq. She will also be showing encaustic wax and acrylic paintings and some video work. Khepera is also an astrologer and tarot card reader and she said those practices influence her art. She described her paintings as ranging from abstract to featuring a combination of ancient symbols and “sacred geometry.”
She said she’s new to participating in studio tours, and added “I’m a little bit nervous because I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my life.”
“I’ll be showing people how to do encaustic painting, maybe an unfinished acrylic painting up there,” Khepera said. “I’m going to have photo books with various different pictures from my trips, so I do want to make it interactive and also just so that people can come and get to know me as an artist.”
WHAT’S ON … 25th annual Thanksgiving Studio Tour takes place from Oct. 7 to 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tour central, 575 North Rd., is open from Oct. 7 to 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For a map and a full list of artists, click here.