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Norristown Arts Building welcomes visitors during Open Studios event

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON 
For 21st Century Media

The doors will be open and the welcome mat ready to greet visitors to the Norristown Arts Building during the 18th annual Open Studios event. More than 20 artists who work in studios in the building invite the public in to see their processes and the work they produce from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 7. The event also features music by guitarist David Kelly and performances by a local group called Iron Age Theater.
The Open Studios event complements the 18th Annual Exhibition (Dec. 3-Jan. 15) curated by owner and artist Tim Hawkesworth, of Haverford. He bought an old costume factory in 1996 and refurbished it to create NAB. It has high ceilings and the windows are big, “so it’s great for what we do,” he said.
The building is a quiet place where artists can work without the distractions of daily life. They also can spend time talking with other artists about art or anything else, if they choose, and get feedback on their work from their peers.
In his work, Hawkesworth, a painter who grew up in Ireland, tries to replicate the feeling people get when standing in nature.
“I’m trying to get at the experience in landscape rather than recording the landscape,” he said.
When he opened NAB, he hoped to create a place where art could be shown and taught (classes and workshops are offered), then, once a year, invite the public to visit.
This year, Barbara Straussberg, an abstract expressionist who loves color, co-organized the Open Studios event. She’s looking forward to meeting the community that afternoon. Straussberg, of Wyndmoor, has had a studio in the building since it opened. She hopes people will enjoy seeing her work and see the camaraderie that exists among the artists.
“It’s grown over the years,” she said. “We really support each other in a positive way.”
Adrienne Jenkins, of Paoli, agrees. She co-organized the Open Studios event with Straussberg and has had a studio in the building for two years. She’s thrilled to have the space to work.
“Working from home, I was constantly interrupted by the phone or my cat or by feeling like I should be doing something else,” she said. “When I get into my studio, I’m in a different zone. When I’m in here and my door’s closed, it’s all about my work.”
She’s looking forward to opening her door during the Open Studios event, though.
“I get to meet some new faces,” she said. “A lot of networking happens that day.”
Artists also sell some of their works, but mostly it’s about having the work be seen.
“It’s nice to have people view your work and to hear different people’s opinions,” she said. “That’s always interesting. I learn a lot about my work by having other people look at it.”
All three artists hope that people will come out and see them and enjoy the open studios.
“It’s a lively event, full of people,” Jenkins said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

IF YOU GO

What: NAB Open Studios and Reception
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 7.  The 18th Annual Exhibition runs Dec. 3 through Jan. 15.
Where: Norristown Arts Building, 619 W. Washington St., Norristown.
Info.: Call (484) 994-2392 or visit www.nabarts.com

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