Artists open studios for ARTour

By Priya Hutner  ·



Truckee artist Carole Sesko creates contemporary paintings and functional art.  ·



Studio Tour | Free
July 11-13 & July 18-20 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

North Tahoe Art Center exhibit | Free
Until Aug. 4 | 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily



Charlotte Patterson

One thing about Tahoe, aside from its stunning majestic beauty, is there is no lack of creativity. We have a prolific writing community, talented musicians and an extraordinary array of artists. The art community in Tahoe is diverse, creative and imaginative.

It’s summertime, days are long and warm, Tahoe blooms with creativity and it is time again for the 21st annual Tahoe open studio, ARTour, presented by North Tahoe Arts. This year, the studio tour features 28 local artists who will open their studios to the public and offer a glimpse of how they create their work. Thirty different art mediums are represented in the show and all of the art displayed will be for sale. Each artist is as unique as his or her creative expression. This year’s tour runs from July 11 to 13 and July 18 to 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. As well, the ARTour exhibit at North Tahoe Art Center in Tahoe City runs through Aug. 4.


Carolyn Guerra

Pastels, oils, watercolors, acrylics on canvas, woodwork, sculpture, ceramic art, fused glass and one-of-kind jewelry are a small slice of what will be presented. The tour promises to delight anyone who loves art, originality and imagination. Pam Sutton, president of North Tahoe Arts, sat down to chat with me about the event.

“The studio tour is an opportunity to peek inside the life of our local artists, see where they live and work and ask them about their creative process. The tour is captivating and engaging. Many of the artists will offer demonstrations,” said Pam, an artist herself, is one of the coordinators organizing the tour.

In its 25th year, North Tahoe Arts is a nonprofit organization. Its sole mission is to support the arts in the North Tahoe-Truckee community through exposure, education and participation.


Work of ceramic artist Ying Muncy.

The tour is self-guided, and tour books may be picked up throughout the Tahoe area and at most visitor centers, as well as online. Sutton suggests picking up a copy of the guide and making a plan in advance.

“This year, there are seven artists in Incline Village, 10 artists from the North Shore, six artists in Tahoe City, West Shore and Alpine Meadows, and five artists in Truckee. Most of the studios will have beverages and snacks on hand. It’s one of the most intimate studio tours in the country,” she explains.


Nature inspires fused glass artist

Toni Rockwell met with me at her home studio on the West Shore. This is her third year participating in the tour. A fused glass worker, Rockwell began designing exquisite pieces of shimmering jewelry. Over the years, she’s mastered her craft creating gorgeous fused glass art pieces. She also designs delicate glass chimes, vases and pieces for the garden.


Fused glass artist Toni Rockwell at work in her West Shore Studio.  |  Priya Hutner

“Everything is a play, experiential and fun,” she says as she holds up a plate with bold blues and floating mountains.

“Nature inspires me. Life inspires me. The lake is like glass and is soothing to the soul,” she says.

Rockwell is relaxed, easygoing and open. She loves texture and plays with many different techniques. Her work is bold and bright. I walk through the garden where whimsical pieces of glass art add to the natural beauty of her yard.


Artist Toni Rockwell with her fused glass piece “Poppies” in her West Shore studio.  |  Priya Hutner

“I visualize the scenes I want to create and then draw the shapes and run sheets of glass through a ring saw to cut the glass. Fusing glass is a multistep process,” she explains.

Jars of powdered glass, shattered glass, strings of long pieces of glass are plentiful in her studio workspace. The heat from the kiln permeates the studio.

“My work is a meditation,” she adds.


Imagination guides wood artist

In addition to artists who use canvas or create ceramic art, there are a number of artists who create with wood. Tom Beebe is one of them and he is truly an artist. Beebe has been working with wood for more than 40 years, and his creations are the work of a master who has perfected his craft.

“I love what I do,” he explains. “My imagination guides me.”


Tom Beebe at work in his Truckee studio.  |  Daphne Hougard

Much of his work is Asian-inspired with modern elements, sleek lines and curves. The inlay work on Beebe’s pieces is both delicate and intricate. Drawn and cut with detail, he shades the edges with hot sand for an exquisite result. For Beebe, the creative process can’t be forced.

“Sometimes I’ll have an inspirational creative moment while I am riding my bike,” he says.


Mixed Media  |  Tom Beebe  |  Daphne Hougard

Beebe’s mixed media pieces with wood and metal gilding hang throughout his studio. A beautiful array of gold and silver metals fused with texture and colors pull you into the piece. The curves on his woodworking is a process of slicing thin pieces of wood, gluing them and putting them into a vacuum bag to fuse the wood together. In the end, one would never know that it isn’t one piece of wood.

Beebe builds custom furniture, cabinets, wall units and refurbishes antiques, in addition to creating beautiful functional art. His work is a labor of love. The wooden sushi platters and wood cutting boards he creates are brilliant works of art.

This is Beebe’s fifth year on the tour. He and five other local Truckee artists will open the doors of the studio along the Truckee River to display their work. Beebe also will be offering a demonstration of his craft during the tour.

So, grab a tour book, map your route and visit the many studios around Tahoe to meet some of the local artists on the ARTour this year.


For information on the tour or to become a member of North Tahoe Arts and support the local art community, visit or call (530) 581-2787.

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Priya Hutner
Priya is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of The Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle. Priya writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. She loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks.