Diversity is key to Open Studio Tour

Many diverse and talented artists will be in the spotlight during the second annual Quad-City Artists Open Studio Tour on Nov. 21, 22, 28 and 29.

Among the lineup of artisans will be landscape painter Alice Gunter, potter Glenn Trotter, and Allison Smith, owner of Random Art Gallery on McCormick Street in Prescott. The tour is free and self-guided and invites the public to visit galleries and art studios in Prescott and Prescott Valley from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the tour dates.

Gunter's work is well known in the Prescott community. A native Arizonan, she has a unique perspective on the beauty of the deserts and forests and diverse landscapes of the state. Having hiked the Grand Canyon three times from the North Rim to the South Rim, she has a special place in her heart for the North Rim. Her artistic goal is to eventually paint all of the many and beautiful faces of Arizona.

Gunter's painting medium is oil on canvas. Visitors to her studio during this year's tour can watch her creating another one of her favorite landscapes. Joining her this year is popular watercolor artist Yvonne Johnson, who will demonstrate her lesser known spinning and weaving talents.

Gunter's work is on exhibit at Tlaquepaque's La Fuente Gallery in Sedona and at Mountain Artists Gallery in Prescott. Her paintings of both Arizona and the Pacific Coast are included in many private collections in California, Nevada and Arizona.

Before she became a painter, Gunter had devoted her life to classical piano. But when she and her husband returned to Arizona from San Diego, she decided to devote her creative energy full time to painting. She has studied with and been inspired by the beautiful painting and fine teaching of Eric Slayton, Doug Oliver, David Haskell, Betty Carr, and Becky Joy.

Gunter has served as the Mountain Artists Guild Workshop chair for 10 years, and the gallery's Spotlight Show chair for nine years.

Smith loves people and painting, attaching imagery and expressions to the interesting and amusing side of being human. No matter in what medium she's working, whether it's oil paintings or polymer clay, she depicts people in ways that bring smiles to viewers' faces. When she's not creating her own work, she teaches painting, and she's a full-time home health care nurse. As she says "I'm all about the people."

Smith's studio, Random Art at 133 N. McCormick, is one of the featured locations in this year's studio tour. Joining her are Jim Pape with his agate, wood and steel mixed media pieces and Joyce Nelson with her decorative horsehair ceramics.

In addition to her painting on display at the Mountain Artists Gallery, her work is featured at Jazzy's Wine Bar on Cortez.

Trotter will demonstrate his work in his own studio called 4th Box Pottery on Lincoln Avenue during the tour. Joining him in his studio will be Leigh Cosby, a mixed media artist who will demonstrate the assemblage process.

Trotter practices a pottery technique called raku, a complex process creating spontaneous results. This process, called "post-fire reduction," creates interesting patterns in the glaze, resulting in spectacular metallic-looking creations. He calls his style "reductive expressionism," which alludes both to the process itself and to his process of carving images and sacred geometric shapes into the tops of his one-of-a-kind pots.

Explaining the name of his studio, he describes the different times in his life as "the four boxes." Not only do they represent different focal points, but a lack of freedom. As he said, "The boxes provide edges that we have to stay confined in - edges within the stages of one's life that create a social environment where none of us are really free."

Now in the fourth box of his life, Trotter finds himself unbounded. He has the freedom to be able to create and explore art on his own time and in his own way.

Years ago Trotter took art classes at San Diego State University where he focused on sculpture. In his senior year he took a pottery class. In that one pottery class he found his passion. After college, he worked at a pottery studio, where he was able to really learn to throw a pot. Eventually he left the studio and took a teaching job in Phoenix, where he taught art and math for 27 years. He retired to Prescott where he now has his own studio and is able to create pots in his own time.

More than 30 juried artists and several non-juried artists are participating in the Quad-City Artists Open Studio Tour.

For information about all the artists and studios on the tour, log onto the Mountain Artists Guild website at www.mountainartistguild.com, pick up brochures with a map included at both the Prescott and Prescott Valley chambers of commerce, or call the guild at 928-445-2510.