Hyattsville artists display diverse talents at Gateway Open Studio Tour

Chase DeForest, a leather craftsman, works in her studio at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center on May 11 during the Open Studio Tour. Photo by Lillian Reese

By LILLIAN REESE — The artists participating in the 15th Annual Gateway Open Studio Tour promised behind-the-scenes access to their craft, and they delivered on Saturday, May 11. Artists who specialize in everything from painting to drawing with fineliner pens to custom leather craftsmanship to printing opened their studio doors and welcomed curious tour-goers.

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Executive Director Kate Taylor Davis said she and local artists, studios and galleries planned to make the Hyattsville leg of this year’s tour special by welcoming the public into private studios to meet artists and observe them at work.

Over 150 people made their way up and down Baltimore Avenue for the free self-guided tour in what Davis said is the most concentrated area of artists in the Arts District. About 200 artists participated in this year’s open studio tour, an increase from 120 in 2018.

Pyramid Atlantic Artistic Director Gretchen Schermerhorn said opening private studios and welcoming the public encourages artists to work at their craft and demystifies the artistic process.

“Artists who have studios aren’t always here at the same time, or a lot of the time when I am in [my studio], I’m on my laptop,” said Schermerhorn, who is also an artist, as she rolled a layer of light purple paint on a piece of fabric. “It’s really fun. I love that I can just do this right here in front of everyone.”

 

According to Davis, many of the tour participants were unfamiliar with the galleries and studios that populate Baltimore Avenue.  The tour was a great way to attract new faces to the art scene and give residents who have already explored this area a reason to come back.

La Plata resident Brayden Kelley was first drawn to the Arts District by public art displays around the city. The open studio tour introduced her to many artists that work in the area and their broad range of expression.

“The arts scene here is incredible. You can’t turn a corner without seeing some type of mural,” Kelley said about what drew her to explore the Gateway Arts District. “There [are] so many different forms of art represented here today, too. It just seems like such a diverse area.”

Chase DeForest, a custom leather boot craftsman and designer, said that this year felt different with Davis at the helm handling organization, artist recruitment and marketing. It was DeForest’s her third time participating in the tour since Pyramid Atlantic moved to their home on Gallatin Street.

“It gets busier and busier every year,” DeForest said. “Kate’s amazing, she’s just so on it so of course [the tour] is better this year. She knows marketing and she has great ideas about signage. You can see them all around the building.”

In a May 8 article, The Washington Post highlighted the Open Studio Tour and the growth of the Gateway Arts District saying that 20 years ago, no one would believe that the “blighted” two-mile stretch of Baltimore Avenue would become an artistic hub, rivaling the likes of Washington, D.C.

 

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