In its third year, the 4 Towns 4 Art studio tour featured the works of 28 local artists in eight Camden County communities. Take a look inside their spaces with our gallery.
By Matt Skoufalos | Photos by Tricia Burrough
Arts appreciation doesn’t necessarily translate into artist appreciation; yet experiencing the fullness of a finished work involves gaining an understanding of the people by whom it’s made and the spaces in which it is given life.
Since 2012, the 4 Towns 4 Art neighborhood studio tour has invited local artists in Collingswood, Haddonfield, Haddon Township, and Oaklyn to open up their creative spaces to the public to show where and how their works are created. This year, four more towns–Pennsauken, Merchantville, Haddon Heights, and Barrington–joined the mix.
The event is intended to foster a sense of community among neighbors, often revealing for the first time how much of the vibrant local art scene lies behind the doors of the homes on their blocks.
If you missed the tour this weekend, we offer you some of these highlights, with thoughts from the artists on what it’s like to open their spaces to visitors, what they think about making art, and how art-crawl-style events help connect their neighbors to the work that’s being made in their hometowns.
“I’m looking to do a story in a simple still life, a color story or a pattern story. I’m constantly chasing a color that I can’t find. I know there’s a color out there that no one knows about, and I can’t find it. We all have this curiosity and this ability to create. Its form is very fluid, and it takes a lot of different kinds of forms.”
“It’s great to have the public come in. They get to see the tools and they get an idea of the process. They see all the stuff you need to create with. A lot of this stuff only usually hangs in galleries.”
“I love having people come through. The art world is ‘me against them’; I can’t take it. Instead of thinking about the art world, think about your art village.”
“I think it’s going to tighten the community. You wouldn’t know we have a creative community unless you saw people doing their thing. Art is about creating environments. It’s a way of life. You’re walking into their life, their studio, their home.”
“I want people to realize that there’s artists living next door to them. One of the things I enjoy more than anything are the reactions of other artists. They get inspired to produce more work; they get inspired to clean up their studios. It provides that camaraderie and support that artists need. Usually we work in isolation.”
“I love letting people come in just to look at the work. I love to talk about the mediums I use and how everything’s progressed. Last year it was really crowded; I had some old friends who used this as an excuse to come visit.”
“I don’t play anything straight. I think imagination and creativity begin when you start to break the rules. I made my living as a medical illustrator; clinical people would come in with problems, and they would need some sort of solution. I developed this clinical ear just to listen to people. I was a problem-solver but now that I’m retired, I don’t have any problems to solve.”
Phyllis Jackson, button jewelry
“We made our clothes growing up. [My jewelry is inspired by] my history in women’s work. What is easy about buttons is almost everybody’s got somebody’s tin container of buttons. The sharing of that is a wonderful experience with strangers.”
“It’s great to show off where the magic happens; to see people in their natural environment. I do pottery because I like to do it. I love sharing the process with people; how it’s done and how it can be used to make so many useful things as well as being beautiful.”
“People say, ‘I used to paint but I don’t anymore,’ or, ‘I tried watercolor and I found that I couldn’t do it.’ Watercolor is the easiest when you just let go. I can see what people like, what they appreciate. You’re seeing the results of what’s been since 1987. It’s a lot of work. It’s nice to see people appreciate work.”
“It’s really wonderful to have people come in and appreciate the work I do here in an isolated environment. It keeps me going. It energizes me; it inspires me. Here, I can share more of who I am with people, and I don’t feel like I have to sell anything. It started as my product design studio and it’s evolved into a multifunction studio.”
“I think it’s an outstanding idea to get the community aware of where art is taking place. Sometimes artists work in very isolated environments. It’s a great way to have art be interactive.”
“It’s always [about]inspiration. When I was a younger artist, the inspiration I found going to [other artists’] studio[s showed me] it’s possible. If you work hard, you can do it.”
CORRECTION: Contrary to our initial reporting, Jeannie Marcucci and Fernando DeJesus were not participants in the 2015 4 Towns 4 Art tour, which is a paid, juried exhibition. In the spirit of celebrating area artists who have shared their work and their creative spaces with the public, we have preserved their contributions to this story. We regret the oversight and any confusion. For a full list of the 2015 participants, click here. –Ed.