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Artists open their homes and studios for tour

2014-04-06T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T11:57:26Z Artists open their homes and studios for tourBy Gabrielle Fimbres Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Elizabeth Quinn-Worrall prepares the canvas for her next work in oils, with color palette, concept, texture, motion and principles of design taking shape in her mind.

In most of her work, she is likely inspired by nature — clouds, ocean, air, and the challenges they face.

She steps out of her studio — a converted two-car carport — into her backyard, with Jack, an adorable 3-year-old Corgi, always at her side as she inspects the recently textured canvas ready to come to life.

But before she starts to paint, Quinn-Worrall might breeze through her attached home on Tucson’s northeast side to stir the evening’s supper, throw in a load of laundry or shoot off a few emails.

Quinn-Worrall is a champion multitasker. When her children were small, painting was part-time for this full-time mom and former healing arts practitioner, who learned to balance it all.

“I did this through their childhood, and as the kids got older and grew up, I had more and more time for it,” she said.

Quinn-Worrall will open her studio this weekend as one of 140 Tucson artists taking part in the Tucson Artists’ Open Studios self-guided tour Saturday and next Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. With just about every medium and corner of Tucson represented, participants can map out their own route of the free tour.

While some artists are in galleries or collaborative work spaces, others, like Quinn-Worrall, prefer working at home studios.

“I definitely like not having to commute,” said Quinn-Worrall, who formerly painted in the Labor Temple Art Studios downtown. “I like having everything I need here.”

Quinn-Worrall, who started painting with the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild in 1990 as a hobby, has shown her work in a number of galleries and Tucson locations. She rarely paints in watercolor, with the exception of her multimedia journals — books of watercolor paintings and her written reflections.

She made the switch to acrylics, then oils while receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona.

She is known for vibrant color and texture in abstracts that reflect nature and the environmental challenges it faces. In the hot summer, when she longs for water, she paints the ocean.

As she works, her two dogs — Jack and a Dalmatian named Pongo — watch her every move.

Her paintings — many large at 48-by-60 inches — are displayed throughout her home. She believes in displaying only art that you love — even if you don’t know why you love it — and not being afraid of large, bold pieces that fill a room.

Quinn-Worrall looks forward to sharing her process with participants who make their way to her creative space.

“I’m always inspired by seeing other artists’ studios, and I hope people get inspired here. I hope their imaginations wander.”

Dirk Arnold, coordinator of Tucson Artists’ Open Studios, said the event is separate from the Tucson Pima Arts Council, which holds a open-studio tour in the fall. This is a grassroots, artist-initiated event that is not operated or funded by any arts organization or government agency.

“It’s not juried – anybody who wants to can sign up,” Arnold said. “We have a wide range of emerging and established artists and pretty much every medium represented.”

He said it allows Tucsonans to “explore art in their neighborhood. It gives you a chance to get out and wander around. There is a lot of creativity in this town.

“And it gives artists a chance to get some exposure out in the public instead of just toiling away in their studios, and perhaps sell some of their work,” Arnold said.

Ned and Su Egen will demonstrate and display their work at Egen Studios in their central home.

The couple — together for 50 years — share the space. She creates handwoven tapestries and other textile art, he is a steel sculptor. A retired chemistry professor at the University of Arizona, Ned Egen creates critters, creatures and flowers in his outdoor studio, displayed in his Fantasy Garden.

Inside, Su Egen has a four-room studio.

“Most of our house is our work,” she said. “We live in a small portion of the house.”

The Egens enjoy opening their workspace. “This is really a nice event. We are there to talk to people and answer questions and listen as well as talk.”

Photographer A.T. Willett will show some of his favorite work from the 1980s from his home studio. He is preparing for an upcoming show at Wee Gallery in Tucson that opens next month.

“The 1980s is when I shot a lot of my most interesting work,” said Willett, known as Tom. “That is when I started storm chasing, when I worked for the Tucson Citizen newspaper and when I was in New York.”

Willett enjoys the tour as a member of the public — seeing the work of his artist friends. This year he is happy to be taking part as an artist.

“The studio tour is really cool because you get to go in and see what people are working on. A lot of people live in their studios and you get to see where they live, all the junk they have and their storage issues.”

Plenty of artists on tour do not share studio and living space. Jerry W. Harris, a blacksmith of 45 years, owns The Village Blacksmith, 2967 N. Alvernon Way. It has been an active blacksmith shop for 65 years.

Harris creates unique, hand-forged metal sculptures of life-sized birds in steel, copper and sterling silver in his dog-friendly shop.

Raptors, hummingbirds, quail, cactus wren, ravens — he does it all, first studying the bird in great detail.

He plans on working during the tour.

On Facebook, Harris shows the stages of his work as his fans follow along.

“People really like to see the process,” Harris said.

Contact local freelance writer Gabrielle Fimbres at gfimbres@comcast.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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