Pieces to ponder

Studio tour provides visitors an up-close look at artists and their work
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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It’s easy enough to find the end results of local artists’ creative process — just head over to a gallery. But to catch them in the act takes a little more planning, or a special event like this weekend’s 15th annual Autumn Art Studios Tour. More than 80 artists throughout Placer County opened their studio doors, both literally and figuratively, to the community Saturday. Anita Posey Lowe has participated in the studio tour since its inception, welcoming visitors into her Auburn-area studio and giving them a peek at her clay work — both finished and in-progress pieces. “I enjoy having them see the process of how I do everything, and even having the kids come in and play with a little clay,” she said Saturday afternoon. “It’s a process, having them get involved in art.” Friends Louise Gilbert, Heather Hanson and Hella Watson were among those who stopped by Lowe’s studio Saturday afternoon. “We start at (the) Arts (Building) and then we go to the (Old) Library (Art Studios) and then Patty Pieropan Dong and then we’re going to Sonja Hamilton next,” said Gilbert, a Newcastle resident. The trio has participated in past studio tours, and Gilbert said they try to check out different spots each year. “It’s a tradition and we just like to do it,” Gilbert said. Saturday wasn’t the first time Hanson, of Granite Bay, had encountered Lowe’s pottery. “I serve with some dishes with her pieces,” she said of a serving dish she’d purchased from Lowe. The tour also proves itself a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the changing season. “We also like, in Placer County, driving around and seeing the fall colors and seeing the different colors,” Hanson said. After saying farewell to Lowe, the trio headed down Christian Valley Road to the studio of Sonja Hamilton, watercolorist. “Everybody’s surprised when they find this because it’s in the middle of nowhere,” Hamilton said of her studio. “This is where I come — to play, to work, to exhibit for the studio tour.” Hamilton said the only unfortunate thing about the studio tour is that, as a participating artist, she didn’t get the chance to participate as a spectator. “My curiosity is to see where people work. It’s always fun for me to see where people live, their surroundings,” she said. Joy Butler, a fused-glass artist, also enjoyed welcoming visitors into her Auburn-area home and workspace Saturday. “I just love having people and talking with people,” she said. “I love doing this because it’s a wonderful tour, and you see people that you’ve seen before. It’s telling me that they like my things.” Julie Merrell, of Gridley, said this was her third year attending the studio tour with her mother and sister. “We always come here because we love this place,” she said of Butler’s home. “She has excellent jewelry, it’s very unique and her prices are great. What I like is, it’s unique things. You’re going to find things here that other people aren’t going to be wearing or buying.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at ---------- 15th annual Autumn Art Studios Tour What: 86 artists at 55 locations throughout Placer County When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today Cost: $10 for adults, free for anyone under 18 More information and tickets: (530) 885-5670 or Web site