Local artist Marty Ray loves to talk. She also loves to create. She just doesn’t usually love to talk and create at the same time. That’s why her home studio, which she shares with husband and painter Richard Ray, is normally a place of quiet creativity.

But during one weekend this month, that will change. The couple’s studio will seem more beehive and bull session than a sanctuary of solitude, as hundreds of people traipse about, poke around and generally disturb the peace.

Who are all these people? An urbane band of thugs? An art-loving street gang? Is this all just another symptom of Dallas ’ high crime rate?

Nope, it’s just time for the annual White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour, when local artists open their doors and invite the public to come take a peak at their works in progress.

Ray and fellow artist and neighborhood resident Michael Obranovich started the tour in 1992, when they suggested that area artists simultaneously host studio openings. Their idea was to let people see where and how local artists create, rather than just seeing the finished product hanging in a gallery.

“It’s very different from a craft fair or gallery show, where people only see the work finished,” Ray says. “On this tour people get to stand there in the spot where work is created and see it all in progress. The artist explains the tools and process used, whatever they want to talk about.”

Sure, artists might sell some work in the process, but the tour planners work hard to make sure it’s not why they do it.

“We visit their studio and discuss the purpose with them,” Ray says. “If a person’s only reason is to sell, we don’t invite them on.”

That doesn’t seem to be a problem with area artists, because the tour continues to grow every year. It’s become so popular, in fact, that it’s now a two-day event. But with more than 40 participating artists, that still isn’t enough time to see everything.

“When the tour was smaller, some tried to make every single studio,” says Ray. “Now people have to pick and choose from the list.”


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