Artists open their doors for Studio Tour

Kelly Smith Cassidy in her home studio. | Courtesy Kelly Smith Cassidy

South Lake Tahoe artists are coming together for the 12th annual Artist Studio Tour from July 27 to 29 and Aug. 3 to 5. This is a great time to buy local creations ranging from watercolor and oil paintings to photography, jewelry and more. This event is free and the best way to meet local artists, watch them create and learn more about their processes.

Download the Artist Studio Tour guide

“This is one of the biggest events of the year for the Tahoe Art League (TAL) and there’s a wonderful variety of art,” says oil painter Barbara Gustafson.

A participant in the tour for the past several years, Gustafson will be showcasing her work again this year. She says that this is one of her favorite events because she loves the comradery between fellow TAL artists and talking about her paintings.

“It’s a lot of fun and it is wonderful meeting all the people who come through,” she says.

TAL Artist Studio Tour chairperson Nina Major has been involved with the tour since its beginning and her home will also be one of the stops on the tour. Her favorite thing about being a participant is the ability to showcase her art and talk to people who are interested in her watercolors and dyes on silk creations.

“There are a lot of people who come over year after year and I love being at home as opposed to being out in a parking lot somewhere,” she says.

Christie Elder-Russell at a previous TAL Studio Tour creating a painting. | Courtesy Kelly Smith Cassidy

Major adds that it’s one of her bestselling shows of the year and that the 300 to 500 people who make an effort to come to her house make her feel appreciated. Major will also be working during the tour getting started on her annual Christmas cards, but will take some time to sneak out and visit the other studios.

“It’s fun for us to see what the others do. Kelly Cassidy does a nice one because she’s right on the lake and Donna Reid’s house is cool because she’ll have other artists there. Connie Clark has seven artists this year; it will take some time to go through it all. I like hers because it’s nice and close,” Major says.

Many of the TAL’s artists say that Kelly Smith Cassidy’s house is a must-visit on the studio tour because she’s centrally located on the lake. The welder/painter/photographer grew up in a family of artists and has been around studio tours for decades. Her grandparents owned art galleries in the Scottsdale-Phoenix area of Arizona in the 1960s to 1970s and started hosting artist walks to mimic the popular salons of the 1900s, which were organized art exhibitions for wealthy patrons.

Her family started spending their summers in the Tahoe Sierra because her parents were both full-time artists and enjoyed checking out the area’s galleries and working in cooler temperatures. Smith Cassidy moved to South Lake Tahoe in 2010 and has been involved with TAL since 2011. Her favorite part is doing demonstrations and showcasing her home and artwork.

“img 20180” | Courtesy Scott Forrest

“People come year after year specifically to see how I weld; so I set special working hours from 2 to 4 p.m. The kids especially love it,” she says.

Abstract expressionist artist Scott Forrest and his mother Yvonne Mcgrath will also be showcasing their art and demonstrating their processes at Smith Cassidy’s home.

“Scott is a very dear friend of mine and he will be at my place along with his mom, Yvonne. Nina has been on the tour the longest and has a gorgeous studio with a backyard that has very fluffy green grass,” Smith Cassidy says. “I also suggest checking out some of the new people, like Les Allert’s photography. We have a lot of photographers this year. Walt Stevenson has a place where he typically shows you how to do silk painting, which is a process that is a mystery to a lot of people. There’s a whole family that paints at Studio 12 — Dana, Lothel and Natalie Englekirk.”

The tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Twenty-nine artists in 13 studios will be showcasing their art. Pick up a studio tour map and brochure at the TAL Art Center Gallery at 3062 Lake Tahoe Blvd. or download the brochure at

“Even if you’re not a buyer, it’s a boon to the local artists. We really appreciate all of the support from the community,” Smith Cassidy says. |