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Linda Kellett - Chris Duncan, a sculptor in Canajoharie, stands with one of his abstract pieces.

Linda Kellett - Fort Plain watercolorist Joanne Resch stands in her Canal Street studio with one of her paintings, which was reproduced in 2007 by the New York State Arbor Day Committee.

Linda Kellett - Joan Balder Cook, of Sauquoit, and Little Falls residents Donna Veeder and Liz Horender, members of the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts, chat with St. Johnsville fortepiano maker, restorer and furniture maker Robert E. Smith about his work on this 1788 English square piano.

Linda Kellett - Canajoharie potter Mary Ann Nellis greets visitors to her Montgomery Street studio.

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Steady stream of visitors fills tours of studio

Thursday, September 27, 2012 - Updated: 9:45 AM

By LINDA KELLETT

C-S-E News Staff

Western Montgomery County artists opened up their studios last weekend to allow area residents to get what was described as “a rare glimpse into their working environments, techniques of mastery and recent works” during the 2012 Artists’ Studios Tour sponsored by the Arts Factory of Montgomery County.

Characterized by some program participants as a “steady stream” of visitors, about two dozen people took advantage of the opportunity to meet and connect with artists like Joanne Resch, a watercolorist in Fort Plain; MaryAnn Nellis, a potter in Canajoharie; Robert E. Smith, a fortepiano maker, restorer and furniture maker in St. Johnsville; Terry Potoczny, a Minden photographer; Jan Skidmore, a multi-media artist in Fort Plain; Chris Duncan, a sculptor in Canajoharie; Matthew Hopkins, a painter in Ames; Michael McCarthy, a blacksmith located in Ames; and Jasmine Crowe, a potter in the Sprout Brook area.

Nellis, who served on the committee that organized the event along with Smith, Canajoharie High School art teacher Kathy Van Loan, and Arts Factory board member Andrea Montanye, said “This area has really talented people. I think [the event] is a good introduction to people who do creative things” here.

She said visitors to her Montgomery Street residence were interested in seeing the studio where she does her work, and they were curious about her kiln, which is located in the basement, she said.

They also were interested in places where her work is displayed and sold.

Nellis said, “I had some pieces on display. Basically, they were interested in the process, what my inspiration is.”

She said that she does a lot of different things but uses the same technique for all of her work: “I try to establish underglazes and glazes, like a three- to four-color palette, that work together. It takes a lot of work to come up with things that complement each other,” she said, adding that each piece is unique — and everything is functional.

Duncan also said visitors to his studio were interested in his work in steel. “I did a lot of explaining,” he said. “I thought it was very positive.”

“My work is abstract,” Duncan said, noting that a viewer can’t really tie his sculptures to a specific subject.

He said, “What I try to do is to find a way of ordering the material I use to create a piece of sculpture that’s evocative, that suggests an emotion but has a clear order. I want a certain kind of energy in the piece and want it resolved.”

Town of Minden photographer Terry Potoczny, whose work was displayed in the St. Johnsville studio of Smith, said people were interested in knowing where he takes his photos.

He said his favorite place is the nature trail area at the Owen D. Young School in Van Hornes-ville. “The light changes there all of the time,” he said, noting that he shoots there year-round.

Resch, who not only paints in watercolor but also teaches, said that painting is a process.

The work that Smith does also involves a process.

On display at his St. Johnsville studio was a 1788 English square piano that the fortepiano maker has been restoring. He explained that the instrument was made in London. “They had to import these because we didn’t have any keyboard makers at the time.”

As visitors tested the action of the keys and the sound of the ancient instrument, Fort Plain resident Laurel Shaver asked who would have been alive when the instrument was in vogue.

Smith said, “In 1788, Mozart would be alive for three more years, and Beethoven was 18 years old.”

Additionally, it was noted that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both were living.

When asked their views about the artists’ studio tours, visitor Liz Horender said she thought the visit to McCarthy’s blacksmith shop was the most fun.

Additionally, Joan Balder Cook, of Sauquoit, said Ames painter Matthew Hopkins was “interesting,” but she “loved the studio” of Nellis.

Little Falls resident Donna Veeder said, “This has been fun. This is our last stop. We got to almost all” of the studios.

Smith said the four organizers “had no idea this much artistic activity was going on in Montgomery County. We already have artists asking to be on next year’s tour,” he said, a move that Resch thought would be good for other artists.

“It gives everyone a great opportunity,” she said.

Linda Kellett - Andrea Montanye of Palatine Bridge, an Arts Factory of Montgomery County board member.

Linda Kellett - Fort Plain resident Laurel Shaver and her daughter, Maya Gaasche, play a tune on a 1788 English square piano.

Linda Kellett - Town of Minden photographer Terry Potoczny displays some of his work.

     

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