SVAS Kicks Off Third Season of Open Studio Tours Dec. 1

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY NOV 21, 2018

Three years ago, the artist Dasha Reich found herself in a conundrum. Showing work in galleries in Sarasota, including a solo exhibition in Alfstad& Contemporary, audiences responded well to the art, but simultaneously expressed surprise that the artist could be living in the area. In an artistic environment at times seemingly dominated by seascape hobbyists with an easel and an upbeat attitude, Reich and a handful of other local artists saw the need to step up their game. The Sarasota Visual Artists Studios (SVAS) open studio group was born.

This year sporting seven participating artists—Reich, Barbara Banks, Bill Buchman, Grace Howl, Duncan Chamberlain, Larry Forgard and newcomer Michael Halflants of Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture—each of the artists will open their studio to the public, free of charge, on designated dates. The first such date of this third season of SVAS will be on December 1. Future dates include January 5, February 2 and March 2.

“We believe it’s important to make people understand how art is made,” says Reich, who will open her entire 3,000-square-foot studio to all curious comers. She encourages guests to snoop through every nook and cranny, and she’ll answer any questions about the various paintings and sculptures, made from poured and shaped resin, or anything else they might find in her studio. Everything is on display, but as it normally would be. “I don’t clean up and I don’t make it look like a store,” she says. “It looks like a working studio. It’s basically like coming to my house.”

The only thing guests won’t see is Reich in action. “That’s just not possible,” she says. “It would be fake.”

And with 25 to 50 people coming throughout the day, passing through as they will in small groups, the experience remains personal, with a chance to connect to the artist. This is good for the artist too, says Reich, as it builds a respect between potential consumer and creator. It’s a respect she says she doesn’t always see in Sarasota.

“People in Sarasota don’t like to spend money on art,” Reich says, speaking specifically of the visual arts, not the performing arts. “They are very proud that artists live here and that it’s an artistic community, but they don’t support it.” Perhaps by letting the public into the studio, to meet the artist and see the toll their art takes in time and treasure, the price tag that comes with each canvas will make a bit more sense.

“People ask how much time you spend on different pieces,” says Reich. “I usually say, ’50 years.’”

SVAS open studio days begin December 1, with additional dates in January, February and March.

Pictured: Dasha Reich at work in her studio.

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