Rock River Artists calls decision to cancel 2020 tour ‘tough, prudent’

WILLIAMSVILLE — Like many other arts organizations in the region and around the world, Rock River Artists has cancelled its 2020 RRA open studio tour.

Organized by nearly 20 artists working in the villages of South Newfane, Williamsville, and Newfane, the Rock River Artists' Open Studio Tour has been an annual event for 27 years.

In studios throughout the region, the tour offers visitors a look at work ranging from thread on fabric to pottery, inlay jewelry to painting, fine woodworking to photography, sculpture to collage.

Given concerns about COVID-19, the collective is taking a hiatus.

“This is a poignant moment for the Rock River Artists,” photographer and Rock River Artists' co-founder Christine Triebert said. “Since our inception in 1993, we've hosted a top-notch group exhibit and studio tour every third weekend in July. Cancelling this year was a difficult decision, but one we felt necessary due to the public health crisis.”

“In a strange way, the coronavirus crisis has given us a chance to do something that has been unthinkable for years for most of us: we have [an] opportunity to reflect on our work and our values without the distraction of shows, gigs or audiences,” said long-time RRA member and fine woodworker Dan Dewalt.

Dewalt acknowledges that “shows, gigs and audiences are our lifeblood,” but says “sometimes blood becomes anemic and needs a boost. Isolation gives us a chance to self-criticize more deeply than normal, and it gives us a chance to take bigger chances and longer detours and to explore hidden corners of our creativity.”

Though visitors can't rub elbows with the RRA in groups this season, they should know that many RRA artists and craftspeople welcome individual visitors by appointment, wearing masks. A list of those artists and contact numbers for each is available at, as are photographs of new works.

As potter Diane Echlin said, “We'll miss our July tour visitors, but we look forward to staying connected through these trying times, and we especially look forward to seeing you in our studios again in 2021.”

Among the Rock River Artists are: Ellen Darrow, pottery; Dan Dewalt, custom furniture; Diane Echlin, functional stoneware; C. Peter Erickson, paintings; Chris Ericson, furniture and jewelry; Richard Foye, raku pottery; Georgie, oil paintings; Richard Gillis, wrought iron work; John Long, weathered wood sculpture; Steven Meyer, paintings; Gianna Robinson, paintings; Carol Ross, functional pottery; Roger Sandes, paintings and prints; Deidre Scherer, thread on fabric; Matthew Tell, pottery; Christine Triebert, photography; T. Breeze Verdant, inlay jewelry from recycled materials; and Mary Welsh, collage.