A studio art tour combines some of the best elements of a community: the chance to meet new neighbors, buy locally made goods, peruse beautiful artwork in a cool setting, and explore new corners of town. This month, the annual Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour is held the weekend of May 5 and 6 at 11 local artists’ home studios, featuring the work of almost 28 local artists. Visitors stop by each studio at their own pace, chat with the artists in their “natural habitat,” check out their work—which this year includes jewelry, ceramics, wood, glass, sculpture, painting, mixed media and more—and discover what goes on behind the scenes.
“Our favorite aspect of the tour is sharing our studios, right in our homes, answering questions, [and] even providing quick demonstrations,” says Marcia Paul, one of the twelve artists who co-founded the tour six years ago. “People seem genuinely interested in viewing our studios where we actually create our art.” Paul and her fellow “core members” invite several guest artists to participate in the tour each year. “We truly enjoy the sense of community we foster among ourselves,” she adds. “We feel that artists and art events add significantly to the vibrancy and vitality of the larger local community.”
And if visiting an artist at home feels a little intimate, don’t be shy. “First-time visitors can expect our enthusiasm and hospitality,” says Paul, “in sharing our art and our studios. Plus, it’s a chance to discover and even purchase art directly from the artist,” without seeing funds go toward gallery fees—and that’s a shop-local movement we can all get behind.
Now, meet some of the artists who are opening their studios this month.
Marcia Paul | ceramics
Marcia Paul has been making pottery for the past 18 years. “Initially, I majored in art in college, but ended up with a career in information technology. Eventually, I retired from that world and chose pottery as a second ‘career,’” she says. “Initially, my interest in ceramics was strongly inspired by Japanese pottery. My first husband was Japanese; I was fascinated by the organic forms and the rustic (wood-fired) execution.” Much of Paul’s work is beautifully functional. In fact, she writes a blog that combines pottery and food—she writes about recipes she’s tried, and photographs dishes like soups and desserts that are right at home in her handmade bowls, plates, baking dishes and more. “Creating pieces…for the table, to be appreciated as art [and] to be used on an everyday basis was quietly exciting.” Paul’s studio is located in the lower level of her home, where she gutted a former sauna to make room for her artwork. maashaclay.com
Trish Gardiner | glass art
Don’t be surprised if Trish Gardiner’s artwork invites you to linger for a few moments. “I intentionally create my art to spark the viewer’s curiosity about what it’s made from,” Gardiner explains. “People often mistake my glass artwork for pottery or stone…I encourage people to pick it up in order to feel the weight [and] examine the texture and colors.” Gardiner has made art in all kinds of different mediums over the years. “In 2010, I took my first kiln-formed glass class at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts,” she says. “After the class, I bought my first kiln and began experimenting with glass. I studied with international master artis Karl Harron, from Ireland, and later attended classes [in Washington state] and at FOCI in Minneapolis.” Gardiner now teaches glass art in the metro and at her studio. “Looking back on my life, I realized that glass has fascinated me since I was a child,” she says. “I grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and a glass artist would visit a local store during the holidays…The way he could turn glass into liquid and then transform it into art seemed like magic to me.” Gardiner will host studio tour visitors at her home this year, along with three visiting artists.
Donna Winberg | Ikebana pottery
Ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arranging, and it was Donna Winberg’s foray into her current craft. “I’ve been a member of several Ikebana organizations for more than 20 years,” she says. “Needing well-designed Ikebana pots, I began taking ceramic classes at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts in 2000. It was love at first sight!” Winberg continues to frequent the art center, where she connects with other potters and hones her work. “Minnesota has a wealth of great potters who share their knowledge through classes and workshops,” she says. “I’ve benefitted from this by being able to learn from a broad range of talented artists.” Winberg’s pottery continues to be inspired by her studies of Ikebana and her travels to Japan. “I’ve been to Japan for conferences and workshops, where I’ve benefitted from learning more about the roots of the art form,” she explains. “In Ikebana we study using space as part of the design element, giving room for contemplation and the appreciation of line, mass and color.” Winberg’s home studio includes her potter’s wheel, a slab roller and work tables. She glazes and fires her pieces at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts, where there are several different kilns available and “a huge selection of glazes, slips and other surface treatments.” Winberg loves the studio tour because it’s a “unique opportunity to…see our creative spaces. People can really ‘locavore’ their art purchases by supporting local artists.”
Scott Estrem | stone fountains
Sculptor Scott Estrem’s artwork grew out of a practical and aesthetic need.
“I started making these fountains/sculptures 21 years ago for our own landscape needs, and eventually turned it into a full-time business seven or eight years ago,” he explains. “My stone-carving skills have been self-taught through searching out sculptors willing to share their techniques, and through trial and error.” Estrem’s organic water features, which adorn gardens all over the metro and throughout the United States, look as though they’ve been naturally carved by Mother Nature. “People often ask me how I find all these basin and bowl stones that have been hollowed out by erosion over millions of years,” he says. “The reality is, they’ve been carved by me.” Estrem’s fountains follow the natural smoothness or cragginess of stones in the “wild.” “I love stone—the colors, shapes, texture. Most of my inspiration has come from nature and architecture,” he says. “I’ve always been involed with art, but working with stone and creating something that no one else does is extremely fulfilling and motivating….I love it when people stop in their tracks when they see my work.” Estrem’s home studio is in Tonka Bay, but he also has a permanent sale spot at the Minneapolis Farmers Market Annex, which allows him to keep a display up for customers year-round. As for the studio tour, Estrem got involved via glass artist Trish Gardiner, with whom he’s collaborated on several stone/glass fountains (check out Estrem’s work on the tour this year at Gardiner’s studio).
Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour
May 5 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
May 6 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Visit the website here for a detailed list of artists and a handy map to help you plan your self-paced tour.
Studio: Marcia Paul
4350 Wyndhill Circle, Deephaven
Studio: Donna Winberg
18923 Carsonwood Ave., Deephaven
Studio: Trish Gardiner with guest artist Scott Estrem
14409 Orchard Road, Minnetonka