Tour The Studios Of 26 Rim Country Artists

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Do you need art to decorate your home or office, jewelry to grace your frame or dishes for your table, a silk tree, gourd or pot of clay for a corner or furniture to complete a room?

Find it all on the 2007 ‘Neath the Rim Self-Guided Art Studio Tour.

On May 4, 5 and 6, 26 artists will be featured in 16 locations, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Maps of studio locations may be obtained from the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce at the corner of the Beeline Highway and Main Street and at the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road.

Among the artists are Sue Jones, John Finkey and Jim Strong, who represent three different ways of artistically interpreting the world.

Jones finds inspiration for her hand-painted porcelain from the antique China of R.S. Prussia.

Her husband's aunt collected antiques and, knowing Jones' background in oils and watercolors, asked her to touch up the florals on a few dishes.

Initially, Jones said "no," but she had a friend who painted on glazed porcelain and encouraged her to take classes.

That was 26 years ago.

Her enthusiasm led her and her husband to open The China Cabinet, where she sold her porcelains and his custom wood cabinets for 10 years while they lived in Ohio. The store was the biggest risk she took as an artist and she "loved every minute of it."

Lapidary became John Finkey's hobby while he was serving with the U.S. Air Force in Japan in the mid-1950s. He worked with stones as time allowed over the next three decades, then discovered he enjoyed incorporating the stones into silver, when he took a class at the Mesa Arts Center in 1982.

He shapes animals, birds, images of Kokopelli and contemporary designs.

"I am continually making new pieces and when people buy my jewelry I feel like I am doing something right," Finkey said.

Jim Strong graduated from the Art Center School of Design in California in 1961. He made his living as an illustrator, until six years later, he discovered he had a talent for teaching and the Jim Strong School of Art in Scottsdale was born.

Strong sold the school and retired to the Rim Country in 1999.

Strong will open his Gibson Ranch Studio in Round Valley with fellow artists Gino Ater, Robert Barela, Conrad Chapek, Pat Dobeck and Dixie Guldner during the tour.

Strong has encouraged many artists over his career, including a few who now reside locally. He is a part-time faculty member of Gila Community College. Artists of the Rim Gallery on Main Street is exhibiting some of Strong's students' paintings on Saturday.

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