Tour will showcase Lewis County art

The Chronicle (Centralia)September 21, 2013 

Renate Cowan, who owns Hexen Glass Studio in Rochester with her daughter Gabby, began preparing their studio this week for the 11th annual ARTrails Studio Tour.

This year’s ARTrails, held on Saturday and Sunday and again Sept. 28-29, will be the first tour for Hexen Glass Studio and 11 other local artists around Lewis County.

A total of 54 local artists are on the tour this year, with artwork that includes paintings, sculptures, glass, jewelry, pottery, mixed media, fiber art, carved wood, basketry, enameling and collage.

“I’ve seen it before,” said Cowan, who moved her studio from Tumwater to Rochester last year. “Then last year I tried to join, but it was too late.”

As one of the few glass artists on the studio tour, the Cowans said people will be impressed with the persistence that goes into each piece.

“We are from Germany, where you have so much glass art in cathedrals and museums,” Cowan said. “I had no clue how they did all of that. I just wanted to find out how they did it. I had no idea I would do it my whole life.”

The ARTrails tour opened with a gala reception Friday at the Centralia Historic Train Depot downtown. An exhibition gallery, featuring one piece from each artist on the tour, was on display.

ARTrails president Jeanne Hamilton said tour participants will be able to meet with each artist and watch them work. People come from across the country for the event, Hamilton said, and are often surprised to find so many artists in the area.

ARTrails averages between 50 and 60 artists each year.

“Lewis County a lot of times gets a bad rap,” Hamilton said. “All you hear about is bad employment rates and the drugs up and down I-5, but there are a lot of good things going on here too in our own backyard.”

ARTrails member Jan Nontell said the tour includes many large sculptures this year, but Hamilton said ARTrails encourages every medium of art and tries to maintain a high standard.

“People are always shocked we have such good art in the area,” Hamilton said. “It’s kind of under the radar.”

To view a studio guide, go to artrailsofsww.org.

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