During the 2023 Sunnyslope Studio Tour, local artist Kris Kollasch will show her work and host two other artists at her home — Studio 11 on the tour (photo by Kathryn M. Miller).

Make sure to say “hello” to Simon at Kris Kollasch’s creative space, Studio 11 on the tour (photo by Kathryn M. Miller).

Art can heal, inspire, educate, and question; it can be fun and fantastic, thought-provoking and heartwarming and, sometimes, it is just heavenly to hold or lovely to look at. This month, the self-guided Sunnyslope Studio Tour returns for a sixth year, and both aficionados and those curious about art will have the opportunity to meet local artists in their own creative spaces and explore art’s many facets in person.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to be an artist,” said Kris Kollasch, who has not only fulfilled that dream as a working artist but is spearheading the organizational efforts of the 2023 Studio Tour.

From fine art and murals to themed environments and public art, Kollasch says that she’s always liked to explore different mediums. Residents will enjoy visiting the artist’s fun and quirky domain in Studio 11 on this year’s tour. (Don’t miss saying “hello” to Simon!)

“What’s great about the Studio Tour is you get a chance to meet the artists face to face, and there’s a real diversity of artists and styles,” said Kollasch, who has lived in North Central and worked from her home studio for nearly three decades.

She sees the studio tour as a way to engage and connect with the broader community, and to highlight the diversity of the area as well.

“Sunnyslope is a very interesting community because we cover so many demographics. I think this is a great opportunity for us to invite people from the larger Phoenix area to come and see what’s happening inside.

“We’ve learned to live and commune together and that’s important — that we respect the people that have been here for a really long time. And I think that’s what is beautiful about it — the diversity of it.”

For Kollasch, art, in all its various forms, is at the heart of that communal experience.

“Art heals us, whether that’s music or dance, or the art of cooking — the things that we have these passions about. Art helps us cope. It gives us a language to get out things that we can’t normally express.”

Artist Ed Taylor will showcase his unique art at Studio 5 on the Sunnyslope Studio Tour, including “A future free from the limits of language” (photo by Kathryn M. Miller).

Further up the road from Kollasch’s studio is artist Ed Taylor, Studio 5 on the tour, whose art feels like a voyage of discovery — a seeking of something greater. A newcomer to Sunnyslope, but not to Phoenix, this is Taylor’s first year participating in the tour.

With everything from large painted panels, burlap coffee bags and pāua adorned pieces to small watercolor prints on camel dung paper and letterpress books of poems (created on his ca.1890 Washington Press), much of the New Zealand transplant’s art also is an examination of language within the art itself.

During moments of grief and pain in his life, two of his more striking pieces became a source of healing and catharsis for the artist. The first was painted after a 2011 earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand.

“I’m quite attached to my hometown, I hadn’t lived there for 20 years, but they had a massive earthquake that killed 200 people, and it really affected me. I just started painting little scenes of places I remember growing up. So, it was kind of about healing the damage,” Taylor recalled. Pointing to one portion of the piece, he added, “This is Māori in here for, ‘Send love to the future. Send love to the past. Be love now.’ I borrow from other languages.” On another section of the piece, “That’s Galilean Aramaic — the first part of the Lord’s Prayer.”

Another work, one of his largest and perhaps most personal pieces, depicts the Lady of Guadalupe and has held various titles, but the one that resonates most with Taylor is “A future free from the limits of language.”

“I spent my whole life being agnostic and it was while I was painting that, my father died, and I started really thinking about what it’s all about.”

Taylor added a poem, written to his father, that his friends helped him translate into Spanish. The poem adorns the edges of the painting and explores the “eternal questions that change and yet stay the same” and looks toward “a future free from the limits of language.”

“That’s why I put language into my paintings…old language and things that I really don’t understand. I feel like language is so important to who and what we are, and yet it binds us to who and what we are. If we are more than just humans, if there is an afterlife of any sort, I think it’ll be free from language. I think that’s the premise [of the painting], once I’m free from language, I’ll see my father again.”

Artist Harold Lohner will demonstrate his printmaking process at Studio 9 on the Sunnyslope Studio Tour (photo by Kathryn M. Miller).

Another artist participating for the first time this year is Harold Lohner, Studio 9 on the tour. For him, art is largely about the process — a puzzle of sorts that he has engaged with since childhood.

“I’ve been doing art my whole life,” Lohner said. “I became an art major in college and then graduate school and then I taught for 33 years at a college in upstate New York.

“Printmaking is my major medium. I enjoy the process of it. You have to take images apart and put them back together, like a separation that you would have in color printing. I print one color at a time and build up the colors on top of that — layer after layer, that appeals to me.”

Lohner has also created fonts for the past 25 years, “They’re what you would call display fonts; decorative things that you can use.”

The artist has lived in the Phoenix area for close to 10 years, and as he researched the history of his new home, he incorporated it into his art, such as a monoprint series that focuses on Dreamy Draw. He is eager to share his discoveries and his artistic process with tour attendees.

“One of the things I love about the tour is that it is self-guided,” Lohner said. “You can start and stop anywhere. So, if you’re having fun, you can keep going on and if you’ve had enough you can stop.”

Lohner will have his printing press set up and in production throughout the tour weekend, which is bound to draw the interest of attendees.

“People love to see that stuff, the behind-the-scenes process. And I think it makes the art more meaningful, seeing a little bit of how it was made,” he said.

The opportunity to see artists in their creative space and to learn how art is made is a unique aspect of the tour, as is the personal connection that can be made with art and its makers.

“I think art is important, societally, because it documents history,” Kollasch said. “And it’s something pretty to put on your wall, too, but it also is a way for the art buyer to express their own interest, their own taste, their own feelings, because they might really resonate with a piece of work.”

She adds that her hope is that residents will support local artists, not just during the tour but beyond.

“We are part of the community and a part of society — making things and creating things and documenting things,” Kollasch said. “You can go to the store and buy something that was made in China that has no meaning whatsoever. Or you can buy something that actually goes directly into the pockets of your next-door neighbor and helps us survive.”

The sixth annual Sunnyslope Studio Tour will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour features 14 studios from Northern Avenue to Peoria Avenue and 19th Avenue to 18th Street., hosting 25 local fine artists. Artwork will be available for sale during the tour — ranging from $50 to $5,000.

Area businesses supporting the event as sponsors include 3A Automotive Service, Barry’s Ace Hardware, Eye Opener, Hansen Mortuary, North Mountain Brewing Company, Phoenix Luv and Zipps Sports Grill. Physical maps will be available at some of the supporting businesses, and residents can find a list of participating studios, artist bios, and soon a Google map showing the studio locations. Learn more at www.sunnyslopestudiotour.com.


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