Open Studios gives the public a look behind over 150 artists' doors

Sep. 29—Getting to explore the very spaces where creatives get inspired and craft their art provides a far more personal and satisfying experience than adding a painting to your cyber shopping cart.

Open Studios — a long-running fall tradition — is back with over 150 artists welcoming potential buyers into their studios for the first three weekends in October. The self-guided tour is free to the public and promises an inside look at sculptors, painters, jewelers and photographers at work.

Oil painter Rick Dallago — a former movie producer — is participating in the event for the third time.

"My studio is fortunate to be situated at the Wilderness Art Studios (2810 Wilderness Place) with 20 artists, so that our location becomes a major Open Studios destination," Dallago said. "We always have an incredible turnout."

Dallago's work is rich with humor, wit and pop culture. Hyper-realistic, yet possessing plenty of quirk, his pieces are often sought-out by collectors looking for something other than a typical landscape or traditional portrait.

Open Studios gives him a chance to meet new fans of his offbeat offerings.

"I especially love when kids are interested in art, and there's lots of free parking," Dallago said.

From a white T-shirt wearing Abe Lincoln holding up an iPhone to snap a selfie to a scantily clad Barack Obama, Dallago's work blends the familiar with the unexpected.

Recognizable figures depicted in his pieces stir nostalgia, but the trippy nature of his work often incites other reactions.

"I admire visual puns like New Yorker cartoons, Banksy, Norman Rockwell paintings," Dallago said. "My narratives are intended to raise questions, to provoke, to make one laugh. I have a series of new works that I'm excited to share."

Since 1995, Open Studios allows artist to connect directly with patrons and forge relationships.

"There aren't many opportunities to sell art in Boulder," Dallago said. "Thanks to Mary Horrocks' (executive director of Open Studios) efforts, Open Studios provides an intimate look at the process and work environments of hundreds of artists. The public can engage directly, make a connection and hopefully a purchase. Buy local, farm-to-table art."

Adderly Grant-Lord, a Lafayette-based abstract painter, is participating in Open Studios for the second time. She will have over 60 pieces for sale.

"I am really looking forward to the excitement of opening my studio to the public at large," Grant-Lord said. "I believe that there is an unspoken connection to the soul that only the viewer knows and feels."

For all three weekends she will be displaying her work at 2525 Arapahoe Ave. in the Village Shopping Center.

"I am inspired by my everyday surroundings," Grant-Lord said. "I don't have preconceived notions of the power that a painting will carry until I hear the viewer expressing how much they are feeling about the painting or how much it reflects back to them what they are going through. This gives me great satisfaction."

While some of her work resembles a rushing waterfall or water-bound islands, others provide a cacophony of color — perhaps repurposed rainbows and budding floral bouquets that defy structure.

"Each participant must do an educational demo for the guests, so I will be going through my entire process from beginning to end from selecting of the canvas to the hanging process," Grant-Lord said.

For Grant-Lord, getting a chance to hear feedback from studio visitors is a welcomed element that the event provides.

"The viewer always has a tendency to make me think about my work, sometimes in a way that I wasn't necessarily thinking about," Grant-Lord said. "I am so grateful for that."

Open Studios also stretches beyond the city limits of Boulder. The enchanting Eldorado Springs Art Center (ESAC) — run and founded by sculptor Giuseppe Palumbo — is a treasure trove for the senses.

Framed by majestic cliffs, the former Volvo repair shop — located at 8 Chesebro Way — is now the locale of yoga workshops, the occasional sound bath session and exhibit openings.

Here, visitors will be greeted by Palumbo's playful sheep sculpture, a mermaid figure, a land-locked gypsy-esque tugboat and more.

During the first and second weekend of Open Studios, from noon to 5 p.m., folks can look forward to exploring the sculpture garden and the onsite studio spaces of Palumbo, Catherine Pistone, Arthur Infante, Jonathan Machen, Jody Bill, Ginger Knowlton and Dona Laurita.

"What I love most about being part of this annual fall event is sharing the magic of ESAC with others," said Laurita. "ESAC is a world-class art center hidden in a funky, old-school Colorado-type of town. The quality of autumn light that exists in the canyon at this time of year is truly epic. I'm fortunate to be a resident artist in an extraordinary community of talented friends."

Laurita, a fine art photographer who dips into other mediums and often brings a sense of wonder and mystique to the everyday, is participating for the sixth time.

"I display a microcosm of work that I've created over my career," Laurita said, "from my ongoing 'Silhouette Project,' stories of immigrants and refugees, to my most recent projects that explore life, loss and grief using a variety of unusual substrates."

From actual light fixtures to overlaid photographic images that take on a surreal and ethereal essence, Laurita's work brings warmth to every space it graces.

"What inspires my work lately is the connection that I have with light," Laurita said. "Playing with the power that light has over me. I'm drawn to what can be reflected and absorbed, both literally and metaphorically. I use materials that push light to be viewed differently — how light can initiate a visceral reaction for me and hopefully for others."

On Friday, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Museum of Boulder will host a free opening reception for the Open Studios exhibit that will feature work of participating artists.

"This annual event helps the Front Range art scene thrive by acting as a bridge and an anchor," Laurita said. "As one of the southernmost art hubs in Boulder County, ESAC is a source of light and connection, a gateway that connects Boulder County to the extended Front Range. In a time when South Boulder has seen so much devastation and in the wake of immense healing and recovery, ESAC's wealth of talent in the Open Studios Tour shines bright."

To check out the full list and map of Open Studios, visit