Unsurprisingly, you will find that many areas around New York City are peppered with creative micro-hubs. Cities and towns steeped in natural beauty, culture and art communities. One of the coolest ways to explore these spots is through the unique lens of the ultimate cultural ambassador - a master artist. Artists who have spent years mastering their craft, and hold the key to wisdom, tradition and innovation of their communities. We think artists are the fingerprints of humanity and culture, the ultimate ‘local creative guide’. From exploring the thriving local art scene with a ceramicist couple in picturesque Farmington Valley to creating your very own handbuilt Kayak in the Adirondacks - these artists know what’s up, and they’re happy to share.
1. Your Guide to Upstate New York with a Silk Painting Master Artist
Stay : In a 100-year old European-style stone house on four acres of greenery.
Surround : Enjoy lush green views, countless hiking trails, kayaking, wonderful antique stores and wineries.
Explore : The famous Dia:Beacon Museum and Storm King Art Center, a 500 acre outdoor large-scale sculpture museum.
Your local creative guide : Deep dive into learning silk painting and Serti "fencing" techniques from silk painter Linnea.
Fun fact : A working artist for 30 years, Linnea has lived on a horse farm, traveled to the Peruvian Amazon 7 times and enjoys volunteering for the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Her ornate silk paintings include animals, architecture and unique city scenes.
2. Your Guide to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with an Encaustic Artist
Stay : At a beautiful colonial style historic boutique property which combines a B&B with modern amenities. During prohibition, this hotel was a speakeasy and a bordello!
Surround : Enjoy the historic community of Chestnut Hill, known for its many unique shops and restaurants.
Explore : A hub of history, science, and art, there’s no shortage of incredible attractions to explore. Visit the house of Betsy Ross where she is said to have sewed the first American Flag, and explore the Barnes Foundation which houses one of the world’s greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern art. To appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body, visit the most fascinating Mutter Museum. Pay a visit to the Laurel Hill Cemetery, the nation’s second-oldest arboretum cemetery.
Your local creative guide : Clarissa, a well known synesthete and encaustic artist, will teach you the ancient method of painting with molten colored wax and resin. Clarissa spends her time working with arts organizations, in her studio painting, at historic or music events, at any of Philly’s museums or historic sites. She’s an avid film lover, history buff, and lately, accordion student. If you visit her in October, chances are good you’ll wind up on some Halloween cemetery tours with her!
Fun fact : You may have seen Clarissa’s work before without even realizing it. She has been a scenic artist with over 40 credits in film and television, including creating Lee Krasner paintings in the film Pollock. Over the years, she created sets varying from burned out buildings to gilded ballrooms, reproductions of master paintings for films to original artwork for film characters. She brings her love of narrative imagery into her paintings, with a fusion of historical portraiture, film and pop culture influences.
Click here for more on Encaustic Art with Clarissa in Philly.
3. Your Guide to Silver Spring, Maryland with a Papermaking Legend
Stay : At a warm, inviting and joyously decorated garden apartment in a leafy neighbourhood.
Surround : Enjoy this diverse, vibrant neighbourhoods from upscale Georgetown to funky Adam’s Morgan and more.
Explore : Visit the best and most diverse museums in the United States (many of which are free!). The new African American History Museum is so rich and extensive, you could spend days exploring its halls, while the variety of art museums—ranging from the Freer-Sackler Museum, to the National Geographic Museum —will have your mind swimming with creativity.
Your local creative guide : Is none other than visual and papermaking artist extraordinaire, Helen, who will impart onto you her decades of skill and knowledge in the art of hand papermaking and artist books. Work out of Helen’s sunny studio to use natural materials to make your own unique collection of handmade paper.
Fun fact : Helen first fell in love with papermaking while visiting paper mills in Ahmedabad, India as a student in the 70s. She has since travelled extensively in Asia, Africa and Europe to collaborate with other papermakers. For Helen, papermaking is both an intellectual journey and a practice of cultural literacy. She works with Western and Eastern paper traditions, creating hand formed sheets of paper that vary from colorful to thin and translucent. You don’t need to travel the world to gain Helen’s global experience—she brings the world to her studio!
4. Your Guide to Manhattan, New York with a Visual Artist Extraordinaire
Stay : A century-old building retaining many of its historic accents, offering a warm inviting space in the posh Upper West Side.
Surround : Enjoy green spaces, as this artistic neighbourhood is sandwiched between two of NYC’s most iconic parks. Artists, writers, filmmakers and professors have made this their home, making it an oasis for creativity.
Explore : Riverside Park and Central Park, relaxed bistros and an exciting bar scene. You’ll find yourself walking distance from NYC icons like Central Park, Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History and numerous city subways.
Your local creative guide : Is none other than master artist Beatrice, who will teach you how to tell stories with blade and paper, by cutting away the parts that don’t belong. You will have the chance to explore the language of silhouette and the fascinating tension it creates between the simple and complex with Beatrice in her Manhattan studio.
Fun fact : Beatrice’s signature design silhouette’s have been displayed at major art institutions including the MET museum, and the walker art center. Beatrice’s life has been a series of curious adventures and experiences that have fueled and informed her approach to her art. She speaks many languages and loves to experiment.
5. Your guide to Chappaqua, New York with a Master Kayak Craftsman
Stay : At a restful retreat in the heart of Hudson River Valley, a sanctuary from the hectic energy of the outside world.
Surround : Take in the beauty and vibe of the Adirondacks, the scenic Hudson River which provides a constant flow of inspiration to the artist communities throughout the region.
Explore : Dia:Beacon, Storm King Arts Center, Katonah Art Museum, Van Cortlandt Manor, Bear Mountain and countless restaurants, wineries and craft breweries.
Your local creative guide : Is none other than renowned craftsman Jon, a master in the techniques of restoring and building 20th century Adirondack boats, who will spend ten days guiding you through the process of making a fast, lightweight kayak of your own!
Fun fact : An expert craftsman who loves the outdoors, he has always been fascinated by the idea of making something out of nothing with your hands. At the end of your mini-apprenticeship with Jon, you’ll get to paddle your own handbuilt Kayak down the Hudson River!
6. Your Guide to Avon, Connecticut with Master Ceramicists
Stay : At a single-level ranch steps away from the hiking trails to Stratton Forest State Park.
Surround : Find yourself facing a pristine natural backdrop featuring wooded parks, hiking trails and the beautiful Farmington River.
Explore : The local Arts Center, home to a thriving creative community. Walk past historical houses and frequent famous local bakeries & quaint cafes. Go hiking or fishing in a couple of secret spots!
Your local creative guide : Ceramics artists Erika and Drew, will take you on an exploration of elegant bottle forms, crystalline glazes, and intricate hand carving techniques as you craft one-of-a-kind pieces on the potter's wheel.
Fun fact : Erika and Drew are firm believers that a life lived for art is a life worth living. When they aren’t in the studio, they will take you climbing, hiking, or fishing.
Written by Kimsuka Iyer
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