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Nancy Breiman, "Peeking Poppy"

Arizona’s largest and longest-running artist studio tour, Hidden In The Hills, returns during the last two weekends of November — Nov. 19–21 and Nov. 26–28 — this time, celebrating its 25th consecutive year. Coordinated by the nonprofit Sonoran Arts League, this year’s tour features 191 artists at 45 private studios throughout the scenic Desert Foothills communities of Cave Creek, Carefree and North Scottsdale.

The mission of the Hidden In The Hills Artist Studio Tour is to provide an opportunity for the public to visit the workspaces of dedicated artists, learning about each artist’s methodology and process and to purchase directly from them in a friendly, engaging atmosphere.

The free, self-guided studio tour offers seasoned collectors and art enthusiasts a rare chance to observe artists at work in their private studios during the six-day event. The studio tour also attracts holiday shoppers seeking original, unique gifts. Each studio has one or more guest artists who also display and sell their work. All of the artists are Sonoran Arts League members, and several will be coming from different parts of the state to participate in the annual event.

25th Annual Artist Directory is Collectible

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Those who remember the early years of Hidden In The Hills will recall how co-founder Judy Darbyshire drew the iconic studio tour maps for the first two years. Back then, the photocopied maps were distributed by the artists and posted throughout Cave Creek and Carefree.

The event has grown over the years — today, it also includes studios in the North Scottsdale area — and as it did so, the Sonoran Arts League invested in publishing a comprehensive four-color artist directory, which has become quite collectible.

In honor of this year’s silver anniversary, the artist directory features three artists’ work on the back cover in addition to Jon Linton’s “Barrio Viejo” photograph on the front cover. The back cover features the work of Cynthia Downs-Apodaca, a talented contemporary jeweler who incorporates precious stones into her pieces to create stunning designs; Sylvia Fugmann Brongo, a ceramic artist whose vessels, bowls and wall art is inspired by Mother Nature; and Linda Storey-London, a surrealist-magic realism painter who loves to explore the mystery of the natural world.

“Eight Shades of Gray” Legacy Project Sculptures

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As one of the original members of Hidden In The Hills, glass artist Carole Perry wanted to do something special to commemorate the tour’s silver anniversary. She began reaching out to original artists from the early years of the tour with the idea of collaborating on two legacy pieces. Within a few days, seven artists agreed to join her: painter Virginia Brooks; potter Judy Darbyshire; wood turner Morrie Elmer; ceramist Christopher Heede; sculptor Gordon “Gordy” Mischke; pencil artist Dick Mueller; and ceramist/mixed media artist Robin Ray.

It was the perfect way to celebrate this milestone event. After all, they were there from the beginning, in 1997, when the studio tour was just 44 artists at 19 studios.

Ultimately, the artists decided on one wooden sculptural piece with eight built-in shadowboxes to display each artist’s work. Somehow, the topic of aging came up and the group decided to call the piece “Eight Shades of Gray.” The collaborative sculpture measures 3 feet wide by 2 feet tall and it can be anchored to the wall or set on a pedestal.

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“Eight Shades of Gray” Artists’ work, clockwise from top left: Robin Ray, Gordon “Gordy” Mischke, Carole Perry, Chris Heede, Morrie Elmer, Dick Mueller, Judy Darbyshire and Virginia Brooks.

One of the two “Eight Shades of Gray” legacy project sculptures will be raffled on Dec. 3. Tickets can be purchased now, online, at the Sonoran Arts League office and at select studios during the Hidden In The Hills tour. The Sonoran Arts League hopes to raise $10,000 through the raffle.

The second sculpture will be on permanent display at the Sonoran Arts League in January.

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