More than a dozen artists from a wide swath of rural central Maine will open their studios to the public Saturday as part of a daylong tour through Somerset County and part of neighboring Piscataquis County.

The Wesserunsett Arts Council’s sixth annual open studio tour will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in homes, barns, sheds, lofts and studios from Anson, Mercer, Canaan, Ripley and into Wellington in Piscataquis County.

The open-studio art tour will give art lovers a chance to see where area artists live and work, said Amanda Slamm, of Solon, one of the event organizers.

“I think it’s fun to go see artists in their actual working space,” Slamm said. “It’s nice to see artists in their native habitat.”

Slamm, along with her sister, Mimosa Mack, of Skowhegan, will display their Sprig Woodwork at the family studio on South Solon Road. Displayed items will include hand-crafted wooden kitchen tools, including spoons, cutting boards and salad tongs.

The nearby South Solon Meeting House also will be open for tours Saturday. Built in 1842, the meeting house’s podium, pews, choir loft, windows and steeple are original and it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

New to the tour this year, Slamm said, is artist Aaron McKusick, who, with Linda Swift, will display his paintings at the Central Maine Artists Gallery on West Front Street in Skowhegan.

“I would describe my style as a kind of regionalism or folk surrealism,” McKusick said of his oil paintings. “Becoming a parent and settling down in my hometown of Skowhegan has changed my painting a lot. My 3-year-old daughter inspires me to explore a childlike sense of play and wonder, while exploring and representing local and regional subject matter.”

Also new to the tour is Desiree Dubois, who will show her work of painted faces found hidden in common rocks and stones. Dubois joins Dave Ellis at the Old Mercer Grange on Main Street in that town.

The idea of the tour, sponsored by the Wesserunsett Arts Council, was hatched six years ago when woodworker Michael Hoy, of Solon, and local artists Abby Shahn and Lolly Phoenix tried to find a way to bring people to the arts rather than bring art to the people. There are 16 studio locations along the tour. There is a map of the tour by Wally Warren and a list of locations at on the arts council website

Shahn, who will display her paintings along with an exotic shrine with multiple art pieces assembled by her partner, James Fangbone, at their Rowell Mountain Road home in Solon, said the rural art tour got started because she thought local artist studios were a good expression of who the artists were. She also said people in the area often wondered what all these artists did, so this was the chance to show them.

“It was a way for local people to come and see what we’re doing,” Shahn said. “Stuff is OK in the galleries, but I think it looks much better in somebody’s studio.”

Work will be for sale. Refreshments – probably hot drinks this year, Slamm said – will be offered at some of the studios.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367, or at:

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