courtesy photo of Martha Sechler

Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour

by Michele Heather Pollock

In Brown County, art isn’t a hobby. It’s a way of life. During October, you can get a glimpse into that way of life. The Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour is a free, self-guided driving tour of a dozen home studios featuring the work of 21 artists. You can meet these artists, explore their studio spaces, and watch them work.

You’ll see everything you expect when you think of “art,” including paintings, from the oil-painted landscapes of Douglas Runyan to the watercolor paintings of Martha Sechler. There are acrylics by Dick Ferrer, Monique Cagle, Laura Buller, and Amanda W. Mathis. And, this year, you can visit the studio of John Elmore, whose pen and ink portraits of Native Americans and wildlife have to be seen to be believed.

This year, for the first time, you can see fine stone carvings by Sidney Bolam of Bohemian Hobbit Studio. Susan Showalter of Handmade in Brown County Studio is showing her fine art photography, cards, and books. And Joe Henderson of Hickory Hill Studio works in wood, making clocks, bowls, and small sculptures.

If jewelry is your thing, there are a number of choices this year. Amy Greely, a metalsmith who works with electroforming and patinas, will show her nature-inspired jewlery. Cheri Platter, at Faerie Hollow Studio, forms her silver and copper jewelry from precious metal clay, a process by which a mix of metal and organics are shaped, carved and molded into unique forms, and then fired to leave behind pure silver or copper. And three artists who work in a wide variety of mediums, Monique Cagle, Susan Showalter, and Peggy Henderson, create unique beaded jewelry alongside their other work.

Chris and Bob Gustin’s popular Homestead Weaving Studio is back again this year, with demonstrations of weaving on a loom. The Gustins are known for repurposing and recycling materials into their beautiful and durable rugs. And if you love fiber art, you can see crocheted wearables, along with other fun fiber creations, by Monique Cagle of Sleepy Cat Studio. Two artists hand paint silk scarves: Cheri Platter at Faerie Hollow Studio and Peggy Henderson at Hickory Hills Studio.

Brad Cox also recycles materials into his art, though his is of metal. Stop by and watch him cut and weld a metal dragonfly for your garden, with eyes made from ball bearings.

For those who collect pottery, Craig Roush will be showing his handmade ceramics on the tour for the first time this year.

But there are also some forms of artwork with which you might be less familiar. Several artists work in mixed media, which simply means that the work they do crosses boundaries. Dixie Ferrer combines painting and collage to make ethereal still lives and abstract works. Michele Heather Pollock at Lost Lake studio combines paper and sewing to create a framed pieces as well as functional items such as bookmarks and greeting cards.

Two artists reshape gourds into works of art. Rosey Bolte at The Uncommon Gourd adds paper clay to the gourds she harvests from her own garden, painting and shaping them into roosters, birds, and other creatures. At Lightspinner Studio, Martha Sechler uses woodburning techniques and paint to create beautiful gourd vessels.
Broomcorn Johnny’s will be a guest at The Uncommon Gourd this year, featuring handcrafted brooms in a variety of shapes and colors.

And at Lost Lake Studio, you can see journals bound entirely by hand.

The tour is self-guided and free. You just need a brochure and map, which can be picked up at the Nashville Visitor center, at many local businesses, or downloaded at <>. Studios are open daily throughout October.