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22nd annual studio tour on tap

By Staff | Nov 4, 2011

Shepherdstown artist Sheila Brannon demonstrates the process for putting together her stained glass creations in her home studio. Brannon will take part in the Over the Mountain Studio Tour, Nov. 12 and 13. (Chronicle photo by Kelly Cambrel)

Sheila Brannon has been making art for decades. The Shepherdstown resident, who describes herself as a “working artist,” produces stained glass works in her home studio, tucked in a small culdesac on West Washington Street in downtown Shepherdstown.

Brannon, whose work ranges from large window displays to “small eye candy,” will be featured along with 25 other artists’ works in the Over the Mountain Studio Tour opening Nov 12.

The tour, in its 22nd year, is a self-guided trip across Jefferson County that includes 10 professional artists’ studios.

As is the case for Brannon, many of these studios are in the artists’ own homes.

Anne Bowers, a founding member of the Over the Mountain tour, described the tour’s beginnings.

“It started across my kitchen table,” she said.

Bowers said the tour originated out of a desire to showcase arts in a new way.

“We started wanting to give people a different perspective on art and crafts,” she said.

By letting visitors come into the working studios and sometimes homes of the artist, Bowers said people gain new insight into the lives of local creators.

“It gives people a chance to see what their neighbors do,” she said.

Bowers explained that the tour’s artists are chosen because of their work and willingness to open their doors to the public and build relationships.

Rebecca Jones, a Shepherdstown resident and artist, will show her painting and mixed media work at fellow artist Doug Kinnett’s studio next weekend.

Jones, who is showing her work for the second year, said that though she is relatively new to the group, working with the other artists is what she most looks forward to about the tour.

“It’s more fun to do it with somebody else,” she said.

Jones also said that the studio tour offers artists a unique opportunity to ban together.

“It’s more interesting to advertise a show like this with the diversity of artists. Artists have enough trouble trying to promote themselves,” she said.

According to Bowers, the tour, which has stops in Shepherdstown, Middleway and Charles Town, is the longest standing arts event in the county, besides the Mountain Heritage Arts and Craft Festival.

“That shows that this is something people really appreciate it,” she said.

Bowers said that visitors can look forward to work from some new artists this year at the last two stops of the tours.

Stop nine will feature the work of Mickkey Tarantion, a watercolor painter; Bruce Fransen, a wood sculptor; and Susan Shidmeyer, a knitter. Stop 10 will feature the work of Tom Miller, who creates representations of Jefferson County landmarks.

Bowers said it’s likely to be a “dynamite studio show.”

The tour will take place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. More information, including a tour map, can be found by visiting www.studiotourwv.org.