Art Studio Tour

The Studio Tour is two weeks away. The event started as a grass-roots invitation from artists to neighbors who might like to see work in progress, inspiring mistakes, and final pieces of art. The event has grown to be both a reunion of locals and a welcome way for guests to see into the places of mountain makers.

This is the fifth year of the Tour. Each year includes a combination of returning artists and new discoveries. There are fourteen artists in total, three of which are returning artists who all work with graphic images. They scratch into clay, mark up a wall, or use a line drawing software. They all celebrate the recognizable regional icons of this area. They are as general as mountains, evergreen trees, and wildlife, and as specific as Great Horned Owls, Longs Peak, and Indian Paintbrush flowers.

Art Studio Tour - Leah Simmons DeCapio

Leah Simmons DeCapio lives in Nederland and creates pottery with her husband, Scott. Scott shapes each piece on a potter’s wheel or by hand. Leah then paints the entire piece black and carves the designs, revealing the white clay. Each piece is an original, no stencils are used. Their studio is very “green” too: electricity is powered by wind and water.

Leah Simmons DeCapio works in collaboration with her husband; he makes the pots and she carves the designs. Most of her work is functional pottery, but she also makes birds that fly on wires and other whimsical work. You might recognize her vases and small plates at local restaurant Bird & Jim ( of the proud Studio Tour sponsors). Leah will be a guest of Susan Anderson in Little Valley.

Art Studio Tour - Wade Johnson

Wade Johnson is a graphic artist that designs beer labels, promotional poster art (did you see the Rodeo poster?), murals around town (have you seen the firefighter mural by Inkwell and Brew?). He returns to the Studio Tour for his fourth year, always offering new product designs to share and personal art to buy.

Wade Johnston has a creative history in tattoo work and skateboard/surfboard graphics. He is part owner of Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co.; understandably, some of his design sensibility has been applied to beer labels. He created a series of coloring books, first for Rocky and subsequently other national parks. In the last couple years, he has expanded off paper and products to murals. Wade will be a guest of John Lynch off Mary’s Lake Rd and Hwy 7.

Art Studio Tour - Karen McPherson

Karen McPherson is an illustrator with a passion for local wildflowers. The designs are used for posters, cards, stickers, and gifts of gratitude. The Studio Tour celebrates her “COVID built “studio and illustrations inspired by flowers (can you believe anything grows out of this gravely ground?!) and views around town.

Karen McPherson has a lifelong love of clay. However, COVID forced her into another play space: graphic illustration. Most of her illustrations are from pictures she takes walking the trails and driving the byways of Estes Park. She uses a computer graphic illustration program to make a series of shapes, colors, and layers that sometimes end up exploding off the page, and other times call you into a quiet space in the field. McPherson is located in Little Valley and will have a guest metalsmith artist.

In all, ten local artisans (some with guest artists) will open their studios to demonstrate their fine art and craft process. The Estes Park Studio Tour is Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19. Visitors can choose the route that best serves them; visit one studio or all ten. Some locations are right off the highway; others are up a windy dirt road.

Printed maps will be available two weeks before the event at Kind Coffee, Lumpy Ridge Brewing, and Bird & Jim Restaurant. Information on artists, examples of their work, and an interactive map can be found on

This event is founded and funded by artists. Realtor Heidi Riedesel, Aspen Brook Vacation Rentals, Dr. Daniel Rauk, the Estes Arts District, Bird & Jim Restaurant and Kind Coffee provide additional support. Viva Creative Culture!

By admin