The Payson Art League, sponsors of the annual open studio tour known as ‘Neath the Rim, are expecting a significant increase in attendance this year.
"We're hoping for upwards of 1,000 people on the tour this year," artist and PAL publicity coordinator Peggy Gould said.
PAL bases its growing numbers -- from 500-600 attendees last year -- on the rising popularity of the event, now in its fourth year, and on the 12 artists who have chosen to participate for the first time this year.
They include longtime favorites like Rock Newcomb, Dick Wolfe, Don Harmon, Annelle Henson, Peggy Gould, Pia Wyer and Jim Strong, plus relative newcomers Wendy Grove, Bob and Glenda Roark, and Hollis Osborne.
In all, the tour will feature 35 Rim country artists and 24 locations, compared to 28 artists at 19 locations a year ago.
The quality and pull of the Rim country's art community is reflected in comments PAL membership chairman Edna Harmon said she hears on a regular basis.
"The feedback that I get is that people like going to the studios to see the artists in action, more so than going to the art show," she said. "Just to see the setting and see how they create their pieces."
The Open Studio Tour does offer a rare opportunity for art patrons -- during a leisurely three-day tour -- to get a glimpse into the private, workday world of successful artists. Studios will feature demonstrations of various painting techniques, jewelry making, pottery making, sculpture, weaving and more.
The tour is self-guided and paced, and studios can be visited in any order. Pick the artists whose work you are most interested in, find them on the map, and begin your adventure.
The event runs Friday, April 29 from 1 to 6 p.m., and continues Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free tickets and maps are available at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Payson Public Library. Brochures are also available at Rim country restaurants, hotels and sponsor locations. Tickets are also available at each studio.
A raffle of artwork will be held Sunday afternoon at each participating studio, with the proceeds being used to benefit Rim country schools. For more information, call Sandy Finn at (928) 468-8836 or log on to www.paysonartleague.com.