GULFPORT — If you've ever been the least bit curious about where artists live and work, Gulfport's SoStudio Tour is your ticket to browse. This Saturday and Sunday artists are opening their homes and studios and offering art aficionados a rare opportunity to peer inside their personal space and even catch them in the creative process.
The third annual SoStudio Tour is the brainchild of Andrea Royce, co-owner of the Longhouse well-being center on 49th Street S. Royce grew up in rural St. Lawrence, N.Y., where a similar studio tour has been packing them in for more than 25 years.
"That area is very rural, and visitors often travel 30 miles or more between studio sites," she said. "Gulfport was a natural for such an event, and I'm tickled with the art community's response. We've gone from five participating artists the first year to 19 this year, and several will be demonstrating their work as well."
From Artist's Alley in downtown Gulfport to the City of Imagination on 54th Street S, from 14th Avenue S to 31st Avenue S, visitors will be treated to an eclectic array of art as well as demonstrations. On Gulfport Boulevard, the Gulfport Grind is hosting Michael Eismont's computer graphics, and the Gulfport Dive Center is showing Anette Monroe's underwater photos. Demonstrations include ceramic work by professional ceramist Tom Radca and Catherine Weaver's one-of-a-kind textured creations. Melissa Schultz will continue decorating her car with a Sharpie pen.
Visitors to this year's SoStudio Tour can enjoy light refreshments and beverages at the Longhouse and at Domain Home Accessories on Saturday, and at City of Imagination and the Industrial Arts Center on Sunday. Artists have been encouraged to have treats available for tour participants.
"I know one artist is baking cookies," said Barbara Nicolazzo, who has turned 22 cars and vans throughout Florida into objets d'art. Nicolazzo, who will make an Artcar cluster from a few of her examples Saturday, is uncomfortable working in front of others.
"I respect and admire those artists who are willing to open up their creative process. I'm just not ready to do that yet," she said with a laugh. "Maybe next year."
Diane Craig welcomes news and story ideas about Gulfport. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.