A Visit to the Round About Artist Studio Tour


Artist studio tours present a neat way of seeing art and meeting local artists who create it.  Via self-guided driving tours, you get a  chance to visit the artists’ private working studios and see where their art is created. While there, you can also buy their art. The folks of the Caddo River Art Guild are in the midst of hosting their own art tour this weekend: The Round About Artist Studio Tour. There are 24 artists on the tour, at 11 different locations around the Caddo Valley/Arkadelphia area.  Each specializes in different mediums, including paintings, wood carving, jewelry, pottery, etc. I took on the tour on Friday and for me, a highlight was getting a chance to meet the interesting people that make up this local art guild. 
Each artist I met was very open to talking about their work and traveling the scenic highways and byways on a beautiful fall day was an enjoyable way to experience the work of these regional artists.


The first artist I  met on the tour was actually a couple: John and Deborah Tackett. Their home/studio is located on a road called Whispering Ridge in Caddo Valley.They turned their garage into a show space for the show and have both been part of the art tour since it was created six years ago.


Deborah is a photographer (and has started painting too) and her favorite place to shoot is close to
home. “I love photographing in the Southwest, I love Europe, but I love the light in my backyard,” she said
John Tackett’s  work includes painting and gourd sculpture ( my favorite was a gourd with a pair of wings attached to it called ‘ Gourdian Angel.’)
According to John’s artist statement, “Reflected in my art is an inherent touch of eccentricity. My folks migrated from the Boston Mountains and settled in the Ozarks. They were simple,
hard working people who made do with the little they had available. I have always admired their creativity and ability to turn simple things and ideas into things of beauty.” 
I next met painter Michael Uhl.  His studio stood out in that it used to be a milking  barn in
the 1950s. 
He didn’t know about the history of the property before buying it but his studio is now decorated with cow décor like milk jugs and signs with cow slogans.   According to his artist statement, he “ enjoys exploring all avenues of the art world.” He has been creating art since 1967 and has worked as a draftsman and technical illustrator. He started teaching special ed classes in 1994 which “gave me a chance to expand my art roots since art is a great teaching tool.”
Next on the route was Rita Earles studio. Earles specializes in oil painting including miniature paintings that have been shown around the world including at the 6th International Miniature Exhibition in Moscow, Russia. When I stopped by, she was working on a beautiful landscape painting. She uses the lower level of her home for her studio, which has a view of a gorgeous pond.
I made a quick pit stop at the Arkadelphia Arts Center downtown ( this new center opened last year in the historic Royal Theatre building), where a few artists had set up shop at.  From there, I got directions to Jerry Burrow’s studio. Each person I had met along the tour had told me his studio was a must see. So I wanted to make sure and see it. Jerry, who is a native of Arkadelphia, does art of all kinds including something I had never heard of before: encaustic oil painting. In this process, the artist paints with hot wax and oil pigment to create a finished painting. He also works in other mediums like collage, pottery, and fused glass.


He has been creating art since he was a child. “My mother was real artistic,” he said.“I grew up on this hill on a diary farm.  I’ve always been artistic.”  Burrow has a BSE in Art Education from Henderson State University. He owned J.L Burrow, Inc, Custom Interior Design in Little Rock but closed the business in 2004 to return to his hometown and first love of teaching. He now teaches art at Delight Public School. He studio is located on a beautiful piece of acreage–to give you an idea of it’s beauty, the Nature Conservancy has just bought the parcel of land next to his. One of my favorite scenes from his studio/home is a porch swing on the property that overlooks a pond. The set up seems to beckon people to  sit for a bit and take in the peace of the surroundings.
If you might want to check out the tour, the studios will be open one more day: on Sunday from 1-4. The photos in this post are works by John Tackett, Micahel Uhl, and encaustic oil paintings by Jerry Burrow.
 Guidebooks with directions to the various studios can be found at the Arkadelphia Arts Center at 625 Main. The tour is sponsored by the Caddo River Art Guild and is part of the Arkansas Artist Studio Tours. For more details visit www.caddoriverartguild.com.
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