Plan your Open Studios Tour visits

Special to The TribuneOctober 6, 2013 

My big thrill in September used to be the arrival of the Sears Wish Book catalog that contained most every item that would end up on my wish list for Santa. I got close to the same charge when I picked up the Open Studios Art Tour catalog at the Arts Obispo office the other day.

The annual tour is celebrating its 15th year and will feature more than 200 artists the weekends of Oct. 12 and 13 and Oct. 19 and 20. Can you hit all 17 cities? I doubt it, but theoretically you could do the North Coast one day, San Luis Obispo another, and split North County and South County into the remaining two days.

Last year, I had almost as much fun seeing artists’ homes and gardens as I did seeing their art. A favorite was 463 Pacific St. in San Luis Obispo featuring the art of Jack and Janice Maher, Laurel Carlisle, Carol Silva Johnson and Lynn Matheney. They’re also participating this year.

Visiting locations with groups of artists is a good way to see more art in a short amount of time, but that can mean missing out on seeing working studios. One spot where I know you’ll get to see where the work gets done along with the work is at Chet and Guyla Amyx’s place in Morro Bay. They gave me a tour earlier this year when I wrote a preview about one of Chet’s exhibits and it was a real treat.

One artist who didn’t participate last year is silversmith Randy Stromsoe. I’m predicting his Templeton studio will be one of the hot spots this year. Maybe you’ve heard that his work has been commissioned by the White House.

Atascadero will feature an impressive number of artists who have participated all 15 years: George Asdel, John Barnard, Pat Cairns, Jim Carlisle and Julie Dunn.

Other artists are making their debut, such as Mary Barnhill, who I wrote about when her Day of the Dead masks caught my attention. Check out her Cambria studio to see her latest work with fish rubbing on clay.

If you’re a planner, you can visit to read blog posts by participating artists and see samples of their work. If you’re not a planner, you can jump in the car with your catalog and drive to a spot on the map. You won’t likely be disappointed with what you find either way. Pick up a catalog at the Arts Obispo office at 1123 Mill St. in San Luis Obispo or visit for additional locations and online copies.

Contact freelance writer Monica Fiscalini at

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