By Elke Thoms
The Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour (WLAST) celebrates its ninth year this weekend. On June 21-22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees can take a self-guided drive through western Loudoun County to visit, talk with and purchase work from over 60 artists featured in this year’s tour. While visitors are more than welcome to purchase art, the tour itself is free.
The map of the tour includes stops at three arts centers: ArtSquare, Franklin Park Arts Center and Round Hill Arts Center, each of which will house the work of several artists this weekend. The rest of the stops lead directly to individual artist’s personal studios.
Meredith Hilt, a committee member of WLAST and a jeweler who will be featured on the tour, has been a part of WLAST for the past five years. When asked about her favorite part of the tour, she says, “The enthusiasm for the artwork. We have people who come from as far away as California, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, so it’s not just a local thing.
“We have people who come back annually, and they are just so enthusiastic about visiting artists in their studios and seeing them working.”
How has Hilt been preparing personally for the tour? “Working, working, working,” she laughs. “I’m spread really thin, so every time I’m home, I’m trying to produce.”
A wide variety of art is represented at WLAST this year. Besides jewelry, there will be photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, digital art, metalwork, drawing, fiber, paper, woodturning and mixed media work available for viewing and purchase.
Doug Gehlsen and his fiancée Karen Monroe are two featured artists this year. Together, they make up Middleburg Photography, whose work centers around country living.
“We’d like to show off our work, we’d like to promote Middleburg,” says Gehlsen about the tour. But there’ll be plenty of time for fun in the newly built Middleburg studio. “We’ve actually prepared an equestrian photo backdrop, so if anyone comes in and wants their picture taken with that, we have saddles, the tack, the reins, and boots that they can wear.”
The Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour is supported in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.