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Artists Studio Tour Offers Unexpected Bonuses
Sunday, August 29, 2021


E.J. Harpham reached into one of four kilns sitting in her four-room ceramic studio and pulled out a large bowl suitable for a large centerpiece table in someone’s Great Room.

Then she reached in and pulled out a platter, another giant bowl and still another bowl

“It’s called stacking,” she said, happy that each dish had turned out perfect.

Harpham is among 21 local artists taking part in the Wood River Artists Open Studio Tour that continues from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today—Sunday, Aug. 29.

The tour runs the gamut of the valley from Harpham’s studio south of Bellevue to MaryBeth Flower’s lovely home on the Big Wood Golf Course at Ketchum’s north end.

And it offers unexpected bonuses beyond the art. Not only does the drive to Harpham’s studio take you past small farms lined with sunflowers but a tour of her studio offers visitors a chance to walk through an oasis in the middle of the Idaho desert with a lovely pond fed by a waterfall, a homemade swing overlooking Poverty Flats and a colorful flower and vegetable garden that shows no signs of quitting no matter what the calendar says.

The road to Sally Metcalf’s studio on Robin Hood Drive in Hailey showcases trees that are putting on their red fall wardrobe. And Judy Whitmyre’s studio on Canyon Run Drive in Ketchum offers a view of Devil’s Bedstead that you probably haven’t seen elsewhere.

Those who toured the studios on Saturday might have found Lisa Holley painting her newest portrait in her animal series with her 1-year-old dog Winslow sitting on her lap as she worked.

The new portrait, which features a frog being teased by two spider monkeys, was inspired by Holley’s trip to Brazil next year with her granddaughter who is studying zoology in hopes of becoming a geneticist.

“I’ve learned that spider monkeys are very playful—they even tease lions and tigers. And each monkey’s tail is different—like our thumbprints,” she said.

Christina Healy’s husband amiably offered visitors at his home in  the Heatherlands three types of wine and mimosas as Healy showed her one-of-a-kind necklaces to dozens of tour-goers. Even her house was a feast for the eyes with the many artifacts she’s collected on her travels around the world mixed in with ibis horns and other depictions of nature.

Mark Sheehan showed the metalworks studio in Bellevue where he’s created many of the valley’s artistically crafted fireplace screens, as well fine art wall hangings.

And Anne Jeffery set up a makeshift studio in Harpham’s garage to show visitors how to layer one photo atop another using photoshop.

“You start with a blank canvas, then move a picture of clouds onto it. Find a picture of a tree,” she said, grabbing a picture of a Tasmanian tree. “Let’s make it smaller. Then let’s duplicate it to add another tree and flip it so it doesn’t look like the first tree. Now let’s add a butterfly between the two trees…”

She finished it off with a field of blue camas. Most people would have been done at that point. But Jeffrey will spend weeks fine tuning it until it meets her standards.

One only needed to look at the art on the tour to realize that these are not the velvet Elvis artists seen in some resort towns. Holley, for instance, will be featured on the Audubon Society’s website the week of Oct. 25.

Karen Jacobsen was formerly an underwater illustrator, making scientific illustrations from a submarine at the bottom of the ocean. And Kathy Marsh Riedinger has a long list of awards on her resume, including an Award for Excellence from the Oil Painters of America.

Harpham has also won her share of awards, and her scrapbooks are full of accomplishments one hardly imagine, including the massive Lady of Guadalupe mural she created for Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles.

On Saturday, however, she was happy to show her smaller accomplishments from gorgeous ceramic sinks sporting trout to coasters depicting bicycles, horses and fish and tile work for bathrooms. She showed how she etched wet clay and she showed how she presses sand dollars or hand stamps of pine boughs that she’s drawn into her clay to create a three-dimensional look to her ceramic pieces.

And she was equally delighted to show off the new luxury vinyl floor she installed in her workspace, which, in addition to being waterproof and easy to clean, allows her to have all her work tables and storage shelves on wheels.

She picked up a beautiful ceramic sink sporting a hand painted red rooster.

“How many times have you seen a rooster on a sink?!” she exclaimed. “Maybe I’ll try a dragon next!”

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