Residents of western Montgomery County showed off their creative side Saturday, as nine artists invited people into their workspaces for the Arts Factory's inaugural Artists' Studios Tour.
Photographers, painters, a wood craftsman and potters welcomed people into their studios for an afternoon of discussion and demonstration, offering a glimpse at what's happening in the area's art scene.
"I have been amazed at the quality of art being done in Montgomery County," said furniture and piano craftsman and restorer Robert Smith.
Woodworker and pianomaker Robert Smith talks with guests about his work Saturday at the Reaney Carriage House in St. Johnsville as part of the Arts Factory’s 2012 Artists’ Studios Tour. (The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini)
Smith, who serves on the Arts Factory board of directors, was one of those who greeted visitors on Saturday.
He said he has always had an interest in woodwork and was glad to have a chance to show local people what goes into his work. Smith was also glad that eight other artists were able to do the same.
"I like woodworking. Wood doesn't talk back, and if you make a mistake, you just throw it in the stove and make something else," he said. "It's very satisfying. No two pieces of wood are alike, so you get to know the grain of wood. You get to know the characteristics of how it's going to work, how it's going to finish. It's just a never-ending learning experience that I've been interested in ever since high school."
Terry Potoczny, who was with Smith at the Reaney Carriage House on Saturday, was showing people his scenic photography in the second-story ballroom. His work includes one photograph that has been used in 4,000 calendars.
Potoczny said Smith contacted him because several visual artists were already on board, but no photographers.
"This is nice. It's kind of like a meet-and- greet," Potoczny said. "People who have heard of me but haven't seen me get a chance to meet me and see my work."
He said the attendance was great for the event's first year, and he was impressed that people were traveling to Ames, Canajoharie, Fort Plain and St. Johnsville to meet all the artists.
"I think they should do it more often, really," he said.
Joanne C. Resch invited people to her Canal Street Studios in Fort Plain, where she had her watercolor paintings on display.
The tour, she said, "allows artists to show people in the valley what they can do."
Resch conducts painting workshops for adults and children in her studio, and she also travels to teach workshops.
Resch started making watercolors in 1997 and said it was one of her first works - a watercolor of lanterns - that got her into the artform.
"It's the painting that really got me on the road of what I'm about and what I'm feeling," she said. "It's very luminous. It's very life-giving. It gave that to me, and I hope it gives that to other people."
The county Board of Supervisors recognized the Arts Factory event, declaring this week Arts Week in Montgomery County.
Other artists featured on the tour included MaryAnn Nellis, a potter in Canajoharie; Jan Skidmore, a multimedia artist in Fort Plain; Chris Duncan, a sculptor in Canajoharie; Matthew Hopkins, a painter in Ames; Michael McCarthy, a blacksmith in Ames; and Jasmine Crowe, a potter in the Sprout Brook area.
The Arts Factory was created about two years ago. Its president, Robert Buck, has said the group's purpose is to organize and promote local artists, artisans and art venues.
"Our goal is to stimulate cultural opportunities, like the Artists' Studios Tour, for the residents of and visitors to the townships of Root, Canajoharie, Palatine, Minden and St. Johnsville," he said.
The group will celebrate its first anniversary in February. For more information, see the Arts Factory page on Facebook.