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The On and Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour kicks off the ninth year of this popular neighborhood art crawl on Friday, Feb. 19, 6-9 p.m., with the annual Autograph Party.
Studio tours take place on Saturday, Feb. 20, 11a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 21, noon to 5 p.m.
The opening reception is hosted at Bihl Haus Arts, the original organizing entity celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Representative works by participating artists will serve as a prime opportunity to identify your studio favorites in advance.
LosNahuatlatos, whose signature style features a blend of “skajunto, hiphop cumbia, surfer polka rock, and reggae yhuapango,” will provide live music for the Autograph Party. Surrounding the pool, there will be Locosan’s Bihl Haus Blue Cyanotype Print Project. This is an opportunity to make – and take home – a handmade print on the spot. Sabra Booth’s “Slick” installation, housed in a 1964 Streamline Travel Trailer, will also be on display. Hors d’oeuvres and liquid libations will be offered up by the always gracious Golden Horizons volunteers who are ubiquitous at any Bihl Haus Arts community gathering.
Bihl Haus Arts Director Kellen Kee McIntyre also gives kudos to Councilmember Cris Medina (D7) and his staff for “always being willing to help us out in any way they can with our special projects.”
“From the start, our focus was on the artists who live and work in neighborhoods on and off Fred Road,” McIntyre said. “The tour began with about 25 area artists at 28 locations. Artist participation has more than tripled over the past nine years, while the tour’s footprint remains about the same. From the beginning we have tried to be sensitive to the needs of our neighborhoods while promoting the rich artistic resource that was already here and that has continued to grow over the past decade.”
The 2016 Fred Tour, as it is fondly referred to, is the largest arts tour of its kind in the city and will feature the works of more than 80 artists at 49 different locations. According to McIntyre, there will be another 250 or so guest artists including musicians, visual artists and poets featured.
There is a comprehensive printed catalogue available in advance for $10 at participating locations that makes it easy to map out your tour strategy and is chock-full of pithy information. You can also access the catalogue online for $5. Or, you can just wander around and search for the yellow signage and balloons that denote participating venues, but I can’t recommend the latter. Keep in mind that this catalogue purchase is your ticket for two to the Autograph Party and one other official event – theatre performances excluded. Catalogues will continue to be available at Bihl Haus Arts throughout the weekend for $15.
“The tour is up by almost 8% over last year, with a number of new artists as well as some who have returned this year,” McIntyre said.
The majority of these studios are not usually open to the public. This is an opportunity for a fascinating look behind the scenes into where and how an artist works.
This weekend is also a great way to experience the wonderful classic neighborhoods of Los Angeles Heights, Monticello Park, Jefferson, Woodlawn Lake, Keystone, Beacon Hill, and Alta Vista. These communities border Fredericksburg Road and can be reached by auto, bus, bike, or on foot if you happen to be in the ’hood.
While visiting a warm-up event at Hausmann Millworks in Alta Vista, artist Rex Hausmann underscored the importance of this event.
“I got my first museum show ever, from On and Off Fred,” he explained to a gathering of Millworks artists. “Do not underestimate the crowd that comes through here. You never know what opportunity that you will run into.”
The Millworks has been in operation since it was founded by Rex’s dad, Gene Hausmann and his partner Wally Johns at the Southwest Craft Center, now known as the Southwest School of Art, in 1976. Gene and wife Renee took over the design and fabrication business in 1993, a successful venture creating special furnishings for courthouses, embassies and corporate offices.
It was in 2008 that the Hausmann family shifted focus from custom manufacturing to art. Today, there is a creative environment of 28 active studios with plans to expand to 23 more in the next year or so.
This is but one example of the thriving arts businesses encompassed within the footprint of Fred. Many artists return year after year. It is also a guarantee that you will see new faces and fresh work each year. Many collectors and arts enthusiasts make this tour an annual pilgrimage.
Mark your calendar to spend at least part, if not all, of your weekend wandering among the creative class. Many studios offer refreshment, but be prepared to take a break at one or two of the many restaurants and neighborhood watering holes that you will find along the way.
Bihl Haus is the 90-year-old structure located within the walls of Primrose at Monticello Park Senior Apartments. It’s the only professional nonprofit gallery on the premises of a 100 percent senior, affordable housing establishment in the United States. Entertainment will be offered throughout the weekend in addition to what you will find on the tour.
*Top image: Bihl Haus Arts hosts the annual Autograph Party. Photo by Page Graham.