By HEIDI BURKHARDT
The Beach Studio Tour (BST) has been a community event for 28 years.
As the first studio tour in the Greater Toronto Area, it has provided people with the opportunity to peek inside the unique homes of creative people. Amazingly, two of the founding members are still participating in the seasonal event.
This year, due to COVID-19, it will be a different experience.
As with many other cultural events, this year’s Beach Studio Tour is going virtual.
No walking is required to do the tour! Participants will meet this year’s lineup of artists on the BST website, with samples of their exquisite work linked to their webpages.
Here is a glimpse into the work of the 14 participating artists:
Lucille Crighton, the weaver on Balsam Avenue, is an institution by herself. A visit to the studio of this BST founding member presents the added pleasure of seeing her artful garden.
Heidi Burkhardt, also a founding member, can be found around the neighbourhood with stool and canvas, painting scenery and urban landmarks.
Dianne Shelton, small in stature, sometimes paints huge abstract canvasses. She and Ruth Hays have been holding court on Fernwood for over two decades. Ruth, with her ethereal watercolours, has been teaching legions of Beachers in her popular classes.
What is special about a studio tour versus a gallery show is that artists can show anything they like.
In a commercial gallery an artist is limited to new work, selected by a gallerist for cohesion.
Some artists who work in a variety of media do not have that imposed limitation when they open their studio.
So someone like Susan Ward, another long time member, can show her glass work, her watercolours and her mixed media pieces.
Versatility can shine in a studio sale.
If you want to see Beach landscapes, look at Shelly Cinnamon, Sandi Stahlbrand, or Jenna Westphal.
For contemporary imaginative paintings look at Susan Aaron, or Lisa Bennett or the textural wonders of Sheila Thompson’s felt creations.
Now, there is a fresh, young crew of artists who have joined the tour.
Shah Ruby the newest member makes beach inspired jewellery.
Cynthia Barrett presents her gorgeous hand-blown glass creations.
Hannah Burkhardt, a second-generation BST artist is a printmaker. Her mother, Heidi (the writer of this article), paved the way for her participation. This mother daughter duo will be showing simultaneously.
This is a testimonial from a former patron who stumbled upon the Beach Studio Tour while exploring the city on her bike in the fall 2019. She saw paintings in a converted garage/studio on Norway from the sidewalk.
Sally S. wrote in the guest book: “I was immediately drawn to the brush strokes that represented trees, rocks, and rivers of Northern Ontario. I found a refreshing genuineness in her work that reminded me of my travels to the North. I could live through her paintings every moment of calm, exaltation, and self-discovery that I had experienced on the shores of the Georgian Bay. It created in me a sense of community: the feelings of two humans towards a part of the world shared through canvas. I will definitely come back for more this year!”
Traditionally the works on display have been a balance of fine arts and fine crafts. Expect to see painters, jewellers, mixed media artists, weavers, and one-of-a-kind clothes makers.
Currently the sneak preview is available.
The official Beach Studio Tour show runs April 30 to May 9.
Participants in the tour will see the current offerings on the Spring 2021 website, with links of each artist’s personal page.
A virtual look into the artists’ studios and artist work will be posted daily on social media from April 30 to May 9.
The social media links are Instagram: @beach_studio_tour; and on Facebook at @beachstudiotour
For more information on this year’s Beach Studio Tour, please go to http://www.beachstudiotour.ca
And in case you forget, the Spring Tour information will also be posted on the cheerful, yellow bikes that Beachers are familiar with.
Local residents will see the bikes around the community on Queen Street East, Kingston Road and near the Boardwalk.