Northern Wilds Magazine
This year’s tour will include pottery artist Paul Zoldahn. | PAUL ZOLDAHN
Along the Shore Arts

Lake Superior 20/20 Studio and Art Tour

Art is always found in abundance along the North Shore. From Duluth to Thunder Bay following Highway 61, all genres are available for any interest or age. Enjoy live music at museums, resorts, pubs and breweries, or stop into a souvenir shop, café or State Park to view fine arts on display. And of course, several communities offer art shows and festivals throughout the year. Two Harbors is hosting the 11th Annual Lake Superior 20/20 Studio and Art Tour, held Sept. 23-25. This event is a more “off the beaten path” art adventure, giving curious art fans an opportunity to explore the roads less traveled beyond the Two Harbors city limits.

The founding organizers of the event, all artists themselves, were inspired to create a unique art experience to highlight the many talented individuals along the North Shore. During the planning process, it was discovered there were 20 studios within a 20-mile radius just in the Two Harbors area alone. This revelation is how the event got its name. The initial conversation began in 2009 and the first tour was launched in 2011, providing visitors the unique experience to meet with artists in their working studios and purchase their work right on site. Over the years, the tour has expanded and adjusted to include guest artists at the studio sites and “pop up” artists. This provides emerging artists, who may not have as much inventory as established artists, the exposure to the public on a smaller scale. Many have now joined the tour as a host site when they have developed their own studios along their art journey. This year will feature 37 artists at 14 studios, five sponsor sites and four farms. Along with a guest artist, the farm sites offer homemade cheeses, jams, bread and other tasty treats. Sponsor sites are a variety of businesses such as 47 Degrees Art Gallery, Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse and Cedar Coffee Company, and will be open during the tour. All the tour stops are outlined on a comprehensive map on the event’s website.

“Rainbow,” by host artist Emily Christenson. | EMILY CHRISTENSON

The working studios are located in a variety of settings, with most being nestled in the woods on dirt roads. In addition to the map, signage clearly marks each site along the way. Whether the tour is broken into multiple day excursions or explored in one day, it is a wonderful way to view the fall colors driving through the backroads. Artist and former participant Nikki Johnson shares how this was a special day she spent with her mother.

“The peaceful drive and amazing event made some great mother and daughter memories,” says Johnson.

When arriving at a studio, the entrance may be a nice stroll over a foot bridge, hearing the subtle sound of a small creek or greeted by a canopy of brightly colored oak trees. The majority of studios are in cabins, garages or a covered space and the event is held rain or shine.

Items available this year range from pottery and jewelry to weaving and textiles, mixed media and oil paintings. The tour loop spans from Ryan Road near Duluth, connecting at Two Harbors and Valley Roads, and reaches up to Gun Club Road. The tour can be accessed at a variety of entrance points, depending on what end of town you start.

“Edna G” by host artist Shelley Getten. |SHELLEY GETTEN

A stop in Knife River, 10 miles out of Two Harbors on Scenic Drive, is home to one of the sponsor sites, 47 Degrees Gallery and Gift Shop, owned and operated by Michelle Gratton. She is a working artist as well and has been creating Beach Stone Jewelry for over 20 years. The gallery features several artists that are also studio stops on the tour, including potter Paul Zoldahn and oil painter David Gilsvik.

The Lake Superior 20/20 Studio and Art Tour is open Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Parking varies at each location and because most are at private homes, parking may be limited to the road only. Visitors can expect some uneven terrain and should be prepared to walk short distances. Public restrooms are not available at the actual site, so stops for food and breaks at local businesses can be part of planning your adventure.

A list of participating artists, detailed maps, and more information can be found online at: lakesuperior2020.com.

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