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Studio tour brings Gulfport’s artists together

Bill DeYoung



Artist family photo: Brenda McMahon (lower right) founded the Gulfport ArtJones walking tour six years ago. Photos: Bill DeYoung.

Nearly 30 artists will take part in Gulfport’s sixth annual ArtJones Open Studio Tour Saturday and Sunday. Ceramic artist Brenda McMahon, founder of the self-guided walking event, points out that there’s a significant difference between ArtJones and the monthly First Friday ArtWalk – which she also curates, and which takes place on the city’s downtown sidewalks.

With ArtJones, “You get to see artists in the studio setting,” McMahon explains. “So it makes a direct correlation between the artist as maker, the materials they use and the end product as art. Often, people will see artists at a show, or an artwalk, and they’ll say ‘Oh, that’s nice. You made that?’ It’s kind of disconnected from the making process.

“When you come to my studio you’re going to see me in my clay clothes, at the wheel, throwing a pot. Making art. And then you’ll see, outside on the table, all the finished pieces. And you’ll see the tools and have an opportunity to ask questions, or make that connection.”

To keeps things within reasonable walking distance, the artists will be together at nine stops along the route, creating a wide variety of mediums including painting, ceramics, sculpture, woodworking, photography and jewelry.

Most, but not all, are from the immediate Gulfport area; McMahon and her ArtJones team rotate artists in and out each year to keep things fresh for visitors. Eleven artists are making their tour debuts: painters Jessica Ryan, Joyce Burkholder, Kiersty Long, Bobbi Pratte, Marius Wiget and Kitty Zehnder; jeweler Charles Bahringer, woodturner Don Stafford, mixed media artists Cynthia Dugat and Dorian Angelo, and photographer Herlys Perez.

Adding to the symmetry of our photo: The ArtJones Larry Enlow Emerging Artist Scholarship is named for the late husband of Maureen Kilroy (lower left); the first scholarship was awarded this year to painter Jessica Ryan (between Kilroy and McMahon in the front row).

Along with McMahon, returning participants are Ray Domingo, Anna Ayers, Tom Pitzen, Jila Davoodi, Doug D’Souza, Nancy Poucher, Deserie Valloreo, Judith Villavisanis, Curtis Whitwam, Amy Howell, Denny Howard, Patricia Burrows, Margaret Foy Meinhart, Paula Roy, Eric Folsom and Janet Folsom.

Some visitors, reports McMahon, enjoy watching the process of creation and ask a lot of questions. Others just enjoy perusing the final products.

“People that love art, they might not be makers but they’re always kind of surprised that it occurs the way it does,” she says. “And also they learn that things don’t look great in the beginning! That there’s a stage to everything.

“We don’t spend a lot of time talking about process unless they ask to hear it. It’s one of those ‘you go and you get exactly what it is you want’ things. Some people just want to see the art, and there’s art for sale everywhere, in a really casual setting.

“It’s a really fun tour for people who are voyeurs, because you get to go into artists’ studios – basically, like our homes – and you to go into our back yards, and see our gardens and our inspirations. So it’s really a holistic picture of who we are and what we do, organically.”

Visit the ArtJones website for detailed information on all the artists.

Download the ArtJones 2022 map.






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