Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour
The Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour gives art enthusiasts a unique opportunity to visit artists where they work — and even sometimes where they live.
The 14th annual studio tour features 45 artists from Calmar to New Albin, Waukon to Lansing, with a concentrated number in Decorah.
You can drive at your own pace through scenic Northeast Iowa. Many of the studios are only open for this event once each year, and you can visit with the artists and purchase their art. This was a perfect weekend to go for a scenic drive; the temperature today was in the low 80s and the fall color was lovely.
Dave and I spent the day traveling from studio to studio, starting at Steel Cow where Valerie Miller paints cows. Big cows, small cows, brightly colored cows. Steel Cow, her urban gallery in small-town Waukon, is worth the drive from anywhere. I defy anyone not to smile when they see these paintings. The cows all have names, like Grace and Caroline and Queenie and Mae. We definitely started with the best studio on the tour. It’s totally cool.
From Waukon, we went to Lansing, ate lunch at TJ Hunter’s, and then visited Fred and Velga Easker’s studio up the road. Fred Easker paints extremely realistic, panoramic scenes of northeast Iowa and also offers the paintings as prints in several sizes at very reasonable prices. Velga Easker’s collages are inspired by quilts but contain tiny pieces of paper and even postage stamps. They are small, delicate masterpieces.
Heading north toward New Albin, we attempted to find the pottery studio of Nate and Hallie Evans. After a few missteps and backtracks, we finally pulled out the GPS and found the Allamakee Wood-fired Pottery studio down a long, skinny gravel road.
I liked the Evans studio very much because it seemed like a real, authentic, messy artists’ studio. They even offered us soup and homemade bread.
Winding back southwest on county roads gave us the opportunity to see more pretty fall leaves, farm fields, and dairy cows. We ended the loop in Decorah where there were more than 15 studios and galleries. We visited a few of them and also shopped in some of Decorah’s other nice-quality shops in the downtown area.
Next year’s tour is Oct.12-14, 2012.