Area arts tours draw hundreds to the region

  • The Monadnock Art Tour draws hundreds of visitors to the studios of artist such as Tom Meyers of Hancock. Courtesy photo—

  • The Monadnock Art Tour draws hundreds of visitors to the studios of artists such as John Sirois of Peterborough. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/7/2019 3:08:24 PM

Over Columbus Day weekend, local artists will welcome hundreds of people, both locals and visitors to the region, into their studios, selling their work and creating a tourism experience.

The Monadnock Art Tour and the Fall Foliage Art Tour encompass artists throughout the Monadnock Region. Both tours take place on the weekend before Columbus Day, Oct. 12-14, and have become a cultural draw for the region’s fall visitors.

Tourism is a critical part of New Hampshire’s economy. Following manufacturing, it’s the second-largest industry for the state. While summer is the height of the tourist season, leaf-peeping continues to draw visitors well into the fall and is the season that has the largest percentage of visitors from outside of New England.

The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development is projecting more than 3 million out-of-state visitors will make overnight visits to New Hampshire this fall. Those visitors will spend more than $1.5 billion in the state. 

Joe Caracappa, chair of the Monadnock Art Studio Tour, said the tour is advertised as far away as the Boston metropolitan area and the greater Providence area.

“We see a significant number of people coming in from out of town,” Caracappa said. 

The tour is self-directed, with visitors dropping in on whatever studios or artists interest them, so there is no exact count of visitors, Caracappa said. But the most popular studios see upwards of 400 people some years.

“For a home studio, that’s a lot of people going through. For many artists, this is the largest commercial event for them for the year. They may sell more work at this event than others, and they put together work over many months preparing for this,” Caracappa said. 

Kimberly Kersey Ashbury, a Dublin artist and art professor, said the Monadnock Arts Tour is a key way to get potential buyers exposed to local work.

This year, she said, the tour changed its listings policy and allowed “anyone and everyone” who wanted to be listed. She said the event, which allows people to meet artists where they usually work, is an excellent way to elevate an artist’s accessibility to the general public.

Peterborough artist Soosen Dunholter agreed.

“Locally, the Annual Monadnock Art Tour has been an enormous advantage in allowing me to share my art with a larger audience,” Dunholter said. 

The Monadnock Arts Tour was enough of a draw that it inspired another local arts studio tour – The Fall Foliage Arts Tour, which includes artists in towns just outside of the Monadnock Arts Tour circuit. 

Keene artist Marylise Reilly-Fajal, who participates in the Fall Foliage Tour, said though the tour is smaller with Monadnock Arts Tour, featuring 22 studios this year, it still draws about 1,000 visitors yearly.

Reilly-Fajal said art sales vary wildly from artist to artist on the tour, and the main benefit for her is exposing her work to a broader range of people. There is a lack of exhibition opportunities in the region, Reilly-Fajal said, and the tour draws in people from the Boston area, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New York – a much wider audience than she would get with a local gallery show.

“It’s an important time for us,” Reilly-Fajal said.

Gill Truslow, another artist who participates in the Fall Foliage Tour, agreed that the tour brings in an audience that some craftsmen and fine artists rarely get to reach.

“It does bring people outside the region to the tour, who come for the foliage and are looking for something to do,” Truslow said. “And they are buying food, eating out, staying overnight. When there's a cultural event, all of those things bring money into the region.”

Ruth Graff, owner of the Benjamin Prescott Inn in Jaffrey, said fall visitors are often seeking activities. The Columbus Day weekend and bracketing weeks are the height of the Autumn season, she said.

“We do get folks coming in for the fall foliage and to see the arts tours, absolutely. And we always recommend it to people who come for leaf-peeping,” Graff said. “People love to visit this area, and they come back for different events.”

The tour is also a way artists can pool their resources, Truslow said. Artists pay a fee to be included in the tour, but it’s much more economical than trying to do the amount of advertising and promotion the tour offers as an individual, she said.

“You become a unit in terms of public relations, and you can pool that collective energy and effort,” Truslow said. “This kind of show, where you’re showing a lot of work and are pretty much guaranteed to have people come see it, I think is worth it.”

The Monadnock Art Tour plans to host a gallery show leading up to the art tour, at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. The show opens Oct. 9. For more information about the tours, or to find tour maps, visit monadnockart.org or fallfoliageartstudiotour.com.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT. 


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