The usual ARTrails of Southwest Washington event, a journey through the home studios of over two dozen local artists, has gone virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to help make up for the lost experience of seeing art in person, several local artists have planned a Centralia downtown art event on the same weekends as the ARTrails studio tours.
The event is scheduled for the last two weekends in September — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 19, 20, 26 and 27. Artwork will be on display and available for purchase at the Rectangle Art Gallery at 209 N. Tower Ave.
Rectangle Gallery owner Jan Nontell said that she is planning to have some artists come in person to the gallery to talk with gallery spectators about their art and possibly give a live demonstration. A few doors down from the gallery, at 211 N. Tower Ave., Fruffles, a home decor store, will be hosting about five artists and their work which will also be available for purchase.
“It’s going to be a couple of weekends where people can come into the gallery, look at some art and maybe talk to some of the artists. It will help fill that gap of people who look forward to the ARTrails studio tours since that has gone virtual,” Nontell said. “There are some fantastic local artists.”
There are going to be live demonstrations at Fruffles so attendees can see the artists’ creative process. A variety of art will be available for purchase including woodwork, watercolor paintings, acrylic paintings, pottery, photography and possibly glasswork.
Nontell said that a lot of artists have been busy creating while spending extra time inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stuart Dittbrenner’s art studio is located in Chehalis, where he creates various art pieces out of wood. He has been involved with the ARTrails studio tours for the past seven years and was disappointed when the event decided to go virtual.
“I’m disappointed but I can understand why they would change their minds on holding the studio tours. I’m hoping there’s enough draw from what people have seen in past years that there will be a lot of traffic,” Dittbrenner said. “We’re going to have some non-ARTrails members displaying at Fruffles. I expect that there will be about five artists in there showing their goods on both the weekends.”
Dittbrenner said a woodcarver will be giving a live demonstration and painters will also be painting live during the event. He said that for those that usually attend the ARTrails studio tours, there will be new artists showing their work that have not been seen in the past by the studio tour attendees.
“One of the painters that is going to be at Fruffles is a gallery owner in Aberdeen and he’s going to bring paintings that are very, very good. Another artist paints in watercolors and she is an extremely good artist and she is out of Raymond. People from all over this region will be there,” he said.
Dittbrenner said he enjoys working with wood because of the form and the feel of working with his hands. He enjoys making things that are useful such as tables and bowls but also makes sculptures and wall pieces.
Nontell said that as the event draws nearer she is interested in partnering with downtown businesses to display an artist’s work in their window so that all of Tower Avenue can be involved with the Centralia Downtown Art Event. Interested businesses can call Jan Nontell at the Rectangle Gallery at 360-669-5918.
The virtual ARTrails Studio Tours will be posted on its website on Sept. 18 and will be available to view for free for a full year — www.artrailsofsww.org/.
ARTrails is “a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing, educating and teaching. ARTrails contributes to our communities and to the region’s art culture,” states the ARTrails website.