Open Studio Day Invites The Public To Farmington Valley Arts Center

The Farmington Valley Arts Center, in Avon, will host its first open studio day since June on Oct. 7.

From noon to 4 p.m., the nonprofit's artists will open their studios to the public to show off their work and talents.

Susan Prentice, a graphic designer and painter from Simsbury, has had a studio at the Farmington Valley Arts Center - which is located in former Climax Fuse Factory buildings - for the last four years.

The brick buildings are hidden off of the busy West Main Street, obscured by trees - where bears, racoons, and wild turkeys sometimes roam - that transports its artists.

"This is like living in a tree house," said Prentice, whose studio resembles that of a small cottage.

With that seclusion comes a lack of exposure. That's why open studio day is so important.

"So many people don't know about us," Prentice said. "We are really coming into our own again. We need more people to know about us."

Every day of the week, there are at least a few artists in their studios who Prentice said would be happy to visit with guests. Prentice is one of those. And with open studio day being a set day and time to visit, the time is valuable to the artists.

"Open studio day works on several different levels," Prentice said. "I've sold work on those days. Or people become familiar with your work and return later. A lot of artists come through and want inspiration or to talk about art. I used to do that before I had a studio. I'm here almost all the time. I've gotten so many opportunities from just being here."

Andy Mars, a photographer, also has a studio at the Farmington Valley Arts Center. Mars is originally from New York, but now lives in Avon. She does weddings but also shoots and creates what she describes as whimsical photography. She also uses her studio space to teach.

"So many people have told me they didn't know about this place," Mars said. "I've gotten clients from these events. I show them what I do and I gave them examples. I've gotten students that way."

Mars does mixed media photography too, where she takes a photograph she shot and paints over it to apply colors and textures to the art. Those personal interactions with guests on open studio day are what really sells someone on taking her class, Mars said.

"It's a friendly environment here," Mars said. "We are always welcoming people to come into our studios to see what we're doing."

Prentice said one of the biggest strengths of having a studio at the Farmington Valley Arts Center is having her work displayed for all to see, in what's basically her own personal art gallery.

"It's wonderful to be able to have your work displayed all the time," Prentice said. "I live in a tiny cottage in Simsbury and this stuff was just piled up in a room for years. And now I can display it."

Open studio day returns Oct. 7 from noon to 4 p.m. They will continue to be throughout November and December. Dates be found on the Farmington Valley Arts Center website, artsfvac.org.

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