Stepping into the Artist’s World on the Back Roads of Brown County

How often do you get a chance to see the inside of an artist’s studio? After all, that’s where the magic is made. We are all so used to seeing an end product and admiring it’s completed design that we often overlook the beauty in how it’s created.

When I heard about the concept of the Back Roads Studio Tour, I was intrigued. It’s not often that you get to step into an artist’s world and see them at work or see where their inspiration may come from, but the Back Roads Studio Tour provides the opportunity to do just that. This unique art experience not only allows for a firsthand look at how the art that this area is famous for is created, but it also is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the county.

Cox Creek MillRosey Bolte's The Uncommon GourdFaerieHollowStudio

After meeting up with Brooke at the CVB and plotting out our course of action, we hit the road. Going into our adventure, I knew that Brown County was an area rich with diverse landscape and topography, but I was definitely surprised by just how rural and secluded some parts of the county really were. All I can say is that I’m glad I wasn’t the one driving!  This year the Spring Tour featured nearly 20 artists located throughout the county. While I was only able to tour a few studios (touring all of them would be quite the task…but well worth it), I knew this was something special.

Rosey Bolte's The Uncommon GourdSeveral steep hills, winding bends, and narrow back roads later,we finally arrived at our first destination, Rosey Bolte’s studio. Nestled in the midst of a beautifully landscaped outdoor area was a little wood house known as The Uncommon Gourd. Immediately after walking in the door, I was welcomed by a variety of animal creatures and faces. Amy GreelyBut, rather than being on canvas, these images were on a rather unlikely medium…gourds. Planted, dried, primed, and painted all by hand, Rosey creates masterpieces that are truly one-of-a-kind. We also got to check out some skillfully crafted metal jewelry by Amy Greely, who was a guest artist at The Uncommon Gourd for the tour.

Noticing on our drive to Rosey’s that we passed by the Farmhouse Café, we couldn’t resist stopping in on our way back. With a wide variety of fresh flowers, herbs, greenhouses, and antiques, I quickly learned that there was more to do than just eat. However, exploring the colorful outdoor scenery and grounds must have worked up an appetite because eating is exactly what we did next. This restored 1800s farmhouse, which was formerly part of the Underground Railroad, was anything but ordinary with its eclectic décor and fresh menu. While I opted for the blackberry iced tea, Brooke went with a kiwi fizz, one of the many unique drinks they had to offer. As for food, we just decided to split some fresh seasonal fruit served with honey and yogurt and a slice of strawberry cheesecake. Needless to say, I’m sure anything on the menu would be delicious!

Farmhouse Cafe Farmhouse CafeFarmhouse Cafe

Feeling re-energized and ready to set out on some more back roads, we headed to Cheri and Dallas Platter’s Faerie Hollow Studio. As a big fan of unique jewelry, I was eager to check out Cheri’s work. After walking into the quaint studio, we were greeted by Cheri, who was in the back room actually working on one her latest pieces, which was made of precious metal clay. I was enthralled as she described how once fired, dull neutral clay is transformed into shining silver, bronze or gold. This precious metal clay jewelry, in addition to lampwork bead jewelry, is what Cheri specializes in. And based on the stunning combinations of beads and glistening handcrafted, and sometimes, hand-painted metals, it is obvious that she knows what she is doing!

Faerie Hollow StudioFaerie Hollow Studio

Leaving Faerie Hollow, we didn’t have far to travel to get to our next stop, Cox Creek Mill. Located at the end of a long, winding gravel road was Bradley Cox’s studio, which he in fact built…, including a 4000 pound metal water mill. The sheer size and scale of this massive wheel was impressive, but metalwork, after all, is what Brad does best. In fact, his mantra could be a twist on the old saying, “one man’s scraps are another man’s treasure,” as all of his artwork is made from recycled and repurposed material. Animals made from kitchenware, wall art created using automobile and construction parts…nothing is off limits for Brad. He seems to be able to recognize the beauty and potential in things that others simply overlook, which is exactly what makes him a true artist.

Cox Creek Mill

While I could have easily spent an entire day or even an entire weekend on the Back Roads Spring Tour, it was time to head back to the Village. All in all though, I’m glad I had the chance to not only see more of Brown County’s rural landscape, but also to catch a glimpse into the world of local artists…which I have to say isn’t a bad place to be!

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