Virginia Huber describes herself as "a watercolor painter working in the western world." Her works, mostly paintings of people, are bright with soft-colors that bleed in a way that makes the viewer question the need for lines, which she uses sparingly. Over the years, she has done away with most backgrounds, opting instead to let viewers color the background with their own stories and memories.
Drazen Dupor is an iconographer, a painter of religious images in the tradition of Eastern Christianity. Using deep color and precise lines, his images of Christ, angels, and the saints transcend this world and stir souls. Born in Gracac, Croatia, Dupor paints in the ancient Byzantine style (think incense-filled basilica) and his work is displayed in churches, galleries, and homes worldwide.
Both artists are among the 140 artists opening their studios to the public this weekend as part of Madison Area Open Art Studios 2008. Now in its sixth year, this free festival coinciding with the autumn Gallery Night put on by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art showcases the diversity and vibrancy of the Madison visual art scene in a laid-back, come-as-you-are way. While you may snag a free glass of wine somewhere along the way, this event shatters the notion that art must be a black tie affair. In fact, you're more likely to see artists' hands covered in clay, paint or looped with yarn than holding a glass of champagne or a canapé.
For both Drazen Dupor and Virginia Huber, Open Art Studios is a great way for regular folks to experience their creative process.
Dupor has been involved with Open Art Studios for the past few years and has found that an artist's involvement shows the constant progression of his/her work. He says that the visitors to his workspace and to the other participating studios have the opportunity to "learn on the spot" by seeing half-finished projects, talking one-on-one with the artists, and "feeling the space where the real creation of art work happens."
Open Art Studios is also a way to absorb the big picture of the contributions of Madison artists. With so many participants exhibiting their work and works-in-progress at the same time, the public has a unique chance to see how, in Drazen Dupor's words, "...artists contribute to cultural content of the city."
This is the first year that Virginia Huber has participated in Open Art Studios, though she captures the spirit of the event with a lovely story about being a part of a similar event a few years ago.
"Volunteers came to guide visitors to my studio which at the time was upstairs over the garage," she recalls. "A good friend brought a beautiful, large apple pie over and I kept it in the oven. Each person who came to assist had outstanding warm apple pie and conversation in the kitchen with our family before their shift was over."
As for a new round visitors this weekend, Huber says, "I think they will be pleasantly interested that some of [my] practices are very similar to what they do professionally. But there are differences, and thinking about something different on the weekend is good for everybody."
For her, Madison Open Art Studios is the kind of event that "convinces a person that there isn't one right way to make art and not one right reaction to art."
Madison Area Open Art Studios 2008 will be held this weekend, October 4-5, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, following the autumn Gallery Night put on by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday. This year's event opened with a reception and silent auction last week at the Overture Center, where works by all participating artists will be on display through Friday, October 10. All participating studios will be open to the public for free, with maps available at local art galleries, farmers markets, and online as provided by organizers.