What’s better than a leisurely drive amidst the bluffs and valleys of Minnesota?

How about a leisurely drive amidst the bluffs and valleys of Minnesota that also involves interacting with artists who are often inspired by these very sights?

The 2017 Bluff Country Studio Art Tour, a self-guided art studio tour, will be held in Southwestern Minnesota, just across the Mississippi River from La Crosse, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 28-30.

Not only do you get to take in the beauty of the area, but you can also watch master craftsmen and women as they demonstrate their skills. Admire the beauty of their creations. Ask them questions about their techniques. Do a little shopping.

 

Here are five reasons to consider participating:

1. Support some true entrepreneurs.

Artists typically don’t go into the field because they want to earn lots of money. Rather, something within them needs to be expressed, and creating art is how they accomplish this. “Starving artists” is a familiar phrase for a reason — it’s a tough way to earn a living. It can be especially difficult in a society where people want to go with the lowest price object at a retail store due to their own economic hardships. No one is required to buy anything during this tour, but I’m sure these artists would appreciate it if you did. Consider it a step to promote beauty in a world that can sometimes seems devoid of it.

2. See artists in action.

Ever wondered how a block of cherry burl becomes a bowl? Or how fabric can be woven into a stunning basket? The unique thing about this tour is it also helps to educate the masses. Many artists will be working on their crafts as the weekend progresses, and most will be willing to answer any question you might have. Maybe you have always flirted with the idea of opening your own ceramics studio? What better way to learn about the advantages and challenges of doing this than to ask someone who’s already been there?

3. The talent is out there. 

All you need to do to see the extreme skill level of these artists is visit the event Web site or Facebook Page. The pictures are absolutely breathtaking. I’m intrigued by the mosaic piece by Monta May M.F.A. Who wouldn’t want to carry one of the unique Helen’s Daughters Handbags by Mariella TerBeest-Schladweiler? You can view pictures of the amazing fabric baskets by Root River Baskets and even corn brooms by Chris Nibbe (you have to see them to believe them). And a special message to Julie Johnston Studio: I have the perfect spot for that kitty picture on my fireplace mantel.

4. Help save the world. 

Art is universal. It speaks to all people no matter the actual language they speak. You can learn more about others just by looking at the art they have created. Do you get a sense of peace? Does it feel fiery and loud? Art is also known to improve relationships between clashing cultures by helping us get to know one another better. It sparks emotion within us, and when we passionately explain our reactions to art to others we develop skills that make us better communicators. Art can help us develop empathy, and the ability to know how others may feel is the key to peace in our era.

5. Make it a weekend get-away.

There are some very homey, interesting places to stay and eat in the bluffs and valleys of Southeastern Minnesota, so why not make it a weekend get-away? Support some of the mom and pop inns and boutiques along the way as an added bonus. You could even win a free weekend stay at the Cottage House Inn in Lanesboro, Minn., and have a comfy home base for the weekend of the tour. Just enter the Explore La Crosse contest by following this link: explorelacrosse.com/giveaways/bluff-country-studio-art-tour.

 

That way you’ll have even more money to spend.

 

To learn more about the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour or see the type of art being featured during the tour, visit the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/BluffCountryStudioArtTour or the event Web site at www.bluffcountrystudioarttour.org.