Art aficionados from near and far could not have asked for a better day to hold the eighth annual Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour. Amid clear skies and warm weather, organizers estimated that more than 400 people toured local arts venues scattered between Hyattsville, North Brentwood, Brentwood and Mount Rainier to check out the works of about 120 local artists.
Kristus Ratliff, one of the organizers of the event, said she was pleased with the turnout for the open studio tour.
"I feel like it went really well," said Ratliff in an interview. "We found that there were a lot of people who came from out of the neighborhood, and that's huge."
Laura Rogers, president of the Gateway Community Development Corporation Board, estimated that there was a record turnout for the event.
"The artists all talked it up on their listservs, and it was a beautiful day," said Rogers.
According to Rogers, the open studio tour provided local artists an opportunity to hawk their wares without incurring extra expenses normally associated with exhibiting their works in galleries. It also provided the public with a glimpse into the creative process behind the art.
"It's kind of like a buffet," said Rogers of the experience. "You get a chance to sample some, and before you know it, you want a full plate."
Phil Davis, acting director of the Brentwood Arts Exchange, estimated that roughly 200 people came through the gallery during the event, including many new faces.
"In general, our goal is to get you from, say, Virginia, into Brentwood," said Davis. "That's something."
Davis also said the event provides an important opportunity for local artists to network with each other.
"The arts world is actually a very social world in terms of making a living," said Davis. "While I don't think many sales come from these things, they want to know who you are, and then they will come into your studio."
Alan Binstock, a Mount Rainier artists who creates glass, steel and resin sculptures, said that he had a steady flow of foot traffic through his studio throughout the event.
"Some pieces were sold, so it was a good day," said Binstock. "A day like today also expresses a sense of community to both those here and visiting."
Emily Green Liddle, another Mount Rainier artist, seconded Binstock's comments about community.
"It brings people from the community to see what's going on, not just with the arts, but with the community in general," said Liddle. "We are all social with each other, so it's a great chance to connect as neighbors."
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