Brown County’s heralded hills are much like its rich collection of artists — varied, colorful (especially this time of year) and seemingly reaching upward for inspiration.
And that seems especially fitting.
Because the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour is back for 2021 with a full contingent of artists and craftspeople ready to open their studios and workspaces to visitors on free, self-guided tours.
With studios sprinkled among the scenic forests of what has long been known as “the Art Colony of the Midwest,” 27 artists are participating for the entire month of October. Brown County’s spectacular hardwood forests are recognized as the best in Indiana for autumn colors, so it’s a good time for a family day trip or extended stay in the area.
Art isn’t a hobby for the painters, woodworkers, weavers, metalworkers, stone carvers, jewelers, glass artists, photographers and others participating. It’s a way of life.
The tour began in 1998. Potter Larry Spears and his wife Jan had moved to Brown County from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where they had participated in a tour of artists’ studios. They thought the Nashville gallery visitors would be interested in seeing the working spaces of artists and learning about how the artwork is made, and that they could replicate a studio tour in Brown County.
The Spearses gathered together like-minded artists, and together they decided to invite the public to their working studios out in the county.
The artists were right, the visitors came, and a tradition was born. Every year since then, in one form or another, Brown County has hosted a studio tour.
Visitors this year will find old favorites on the tour, along with several artists new to the tour. Daily demonstrations of the arts will take place, and visitors can participate in some of them while exploring the area and purchasing work directly from the artists.
The tour is designed to broaden public understanding of the arts in Brown County, which has been an art colony for more than 100 years, and is recognized as one of 10 Indiana Cultural Districts.
The T.C. Steele State Historic Site, commemorating one of Brown County’s early artists, is a stop on the tour, offering discounted admission for Back Roads participants. All other stops on the tour are free of charge.
More information, or to download a copy of the tour map, visit browncountystudiotour.com.