The MAG Studio Tour is going virtual this year.
On October 3 and 4, the Merrickville Artist Guild (MAG) will be launching videos of 24 of their artists talking about their art, process, inspiration, and how to get in touch with them. The roughly three-minute videos will be available through MAG’s website and the artists will also be able to share them through their own social media platforms. MAG is also producing a compilation video of all their artists, which includes original music by local musician Stephen Fuller playing the Kora, a string instrument from West Africa. “It’s really beautiful, and it lends itself really well to the kinds of videos we are going to be producing,” says MAG President Nick Previsich.
Nick says that while many non-profit and arts and culture organizations were overwhelmed with the realities of the pandemic, MAG felt that is was important to continue to spread the arts in the Merrickville community and beyond. The MAG Studio Tour is their flagship event, held in the Fall ever since MAG was founded in 1984. “It still remains a pivotal event of the year for the MAG artists,” he says.
While the videos won’t be able to spread the same feeling as the physical Studio Tour, which draws thousands of visitors to Merrickville every year, Nick says the videos will be a great way to get to know the artists and their work. The videos will include all types of art including watercolour, oil, and mixed media paintings, pottery, sculpture, photography, jewelry, glasswork, prints, and even poetry. “I think it’s a really good way of continuing to promote the arts,” Nick says. This is especially important in these difficult times when people are looking for something to lift their spirits and brighten their day. “Artistic expression in its many forms has the ability to transcend difficult times in our lives and can send a message of hope and enjoyment,” Nick says.
According to Nick, the goal of this year’s virtual Studio Tour is to help keep art relevant in people’s lives, ensure that they still see the value of appreciating and purchasing art, and for the community to be reassured that Merrickvillle-Wolford is still a vital artistic area. “We have a strong reputation that we have built since 1984 and we want to make sure they’ll think of us being a strong arts community,” he says. Although the virtual Studio Tour is set for October 3 and 4, the videos will stay up online for people to enjoy over the next few months. To build on the Studio Tour, MAG has also created the MAG Marketplace, where people will be able to find examples of the artist’s work that is for sale. The MAG Marketplace will be launched in conjunction with the videos in October.
MAG has been continuing their outreach in the community throughout the pandemic by featuring artist’s work in the window at the Merrickville Food Market. Nick says the initiative has been extremely successful, with many artists selling pieces, and they are very thankful to the Merrickville Food Market for allowing them to use the space. “I often go by the window and see people stopping and looking and really appreciating what’s on display,” he says. “It’s a small thing but it’s a way we are trying to keep the arts alive and relevant to people who come to visit the Village.”
MAG is also committed to giving a few small bursaries out this year to emerging artists at local high schools. They hope to be able to give out the first two to three $200 bursaries by the end of the calendar year.
With the virtual Studio Tour coming up, and all their other initiatives, it is clear that MAG is refusing to let COVID-19 dampen the spirit of the artist community. “We’re not sitting back on our laurels and letting this thing affect us,” Nick says. “We’re looking at this as an opportunity to renew venues and new ways of expressing and appreciating the arts.”
Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times