Philomath’s Two-Weekend Art Tour

Ann_lahr_ceramicsIn the 13th annual Philomath Open Studio Tour, local artists will open their studios for free, self-guided tours. Local wine tasting rooms will also open their doors and display artwork from several artists. During these tours, participants can learn about the processes of various artists. Some artists may even show work that has never been on public display before.

There are 16 host artists, working in mediums from glass and ceramics to painting and fiber arts. There are also more that 20 visiting artists, whose mediums are just as varied.  With all there is to see you would be wise to take more than one day to see the whole tour.  Of course, the aforementioned wine tastings sweeten that proposition.

Several “don’t miss” artists are featured in this tour—just a few of these include Katheryn Byram, Rinee Merritt, and Dale Donovan. Byram’s art is multilayered. Her pieces that resemble books feature multiple minute details that stop viewers as they stare and unpack what they’re seeing. Each intricate piece of her artwork calls to the viewer and makes them want to see more. Byram says on the tour website that she is “hungry to discover new ‘tools’ and media that will tell my story.” Her artwork reflects a sense of storytelling, since the longer you look, the more of a story you see. She also enjoys fiber arts. A visiting artist on this tour, she’s definitely one to see.

Merritt’s work catches the attention with bright, vivid colors and creative shapes. Merritt is another of the visiting artists at this tour. A horticulturist and graphic designer, she uses those experiences to create stunning glass art featuring unique designs that look as though they were alive. According to the show website Merritt says she frequently uses “the light and color to direct my studies in texture, shape, and species.” Her work often features animals and nature, and the bright colors mixed with those found in nature lead your eye from one piece to the next.

Functionality is just one word that describes Donovan’s work. His pieces are beautiful to look at, yet are useful in everyday life. He is one of the host artists on this year’s tour. His pottery jumps out at you, with bright colors combined with brilliant whites. It’s not just for show, however. Donovan likes the idea of creating something that can be used every day. He drinks coffee out of his own pottery. He was exposed to art first in high school, but got very interested when he went into the Air Force and was based in Topeka, Kansas. His studio is on his property, and he enjoys going down to it and being able to work at home, especially on rainy Oregon days. His pottery is striking and makes you want to put it on a shelf, yet at the same time use it every single day.

A tour map is now available at the Corvallis Arts Center, the Benton County Historical Museum, or the Wine Vault in Philomath. You can also download it on the Philomath Open Studio website. There will be large yellow place cards that will lead visitors through all of the directions to the various studios.

These tours allow visitors the unique opportunity of talking with artists in their own studios, see work that they have in progress, and ask them questions about their inspiration. It is a rare occasion to be able to meet an artist in the space where your favorite work was created.


The Philomath Open Studio Tour takes place this year on Saturday, Oct. 24, Sunday, Oct. 25, Saturday, Oct. 31, and Sunday, Nov. 1 from 12 to 5 p.m. For info, visit


Kyra Blank