With the eighth-largest concentration of artists in the nation, Boulder has a reputation as an art-friendly town—and it’s fair to say that the artists who live and work there are friendly, too. Every autumn since 1995, Open Studios has invited visitors to stop in and say hello to some of Boulder County’s most creative residents, right in the places where they paint, carve, weld, print, or whittle—from Eldorado Springs to Nederland, Lyons to Niwot, and around every corner of Boulder.

“Our mission is pure and simple,” says Mary Horrocks, executive director of Open Studios. “We exist to promote the visual arts and visual artists who live and work in Boulder and the surrounding area.” Even many locals are surprised to find out how many artists thrive in this area. “In many ways it’s kind of a best-kept secret, and we are really working hard to get the word out,” Horrocks says.

Boulder-based ceramic artist Liz Quan’s studio displays a colorful array of work, as well as her coveted White Coral pendants. Photo courtesy of Open Studios

Boulder had few art galleries when Open Studios was first launched in the mid-’90s, so a tour that lead curious collectors directly to the artists’ bases of operations—garage, apartment, loft, or cabin—seemed like the perfect solution. And it’s been a great success. Over the years, Open Studios has grown into an easygoing fall tradition, inviting art aficionados of all kinds to venture down golden-leaf-framed backroads and up among the foothills in search of something new to hang on a wall or place on a pedestal. The tour is free of charge, and all ages are welcome.

Artist Theresa Haberkorn demonstrates the process that yields her award-winning woodcut prints. Photo courtesy of Open Studios

This year’s Open Studios will take place during the first three weekends of October, from noon to 5 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday. Some artists’ studios are only open two of the three weekends, so check the Open Studios website for details. Maps to locate the studios are available online, or you can pick up a paper map at locations including Meininger Art Supply in Denver, and the Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau on Pearl Street.

For the first time, this year’s tour will feature a teen studio on one weekend only, October 5–6, located at Niche Workspaces on 4571 Broadway.

“It’s for students age 13–19 to exhibit their work, sell their work, and talk to the public,” Horrocks says.  Aspiring young artists can also sign up for a variety of workshops—to learn about building a portfolio, applying to art school, or planning a career in fine or applied arts.

An Open Studios preview exhibition, featuring examples of work from each of this year’s artists, will be on display at Naropa University’s Nalanda campus, 6287 Arapahoe Ave., in Boulder, with an opening night reception on Friday, October 4 from 6–8:30 p.m., and then daily October 5–20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a great opportunity to choose a few favorites, locate their studios, and then plot your course to discovering new local artists to love. Here are a few to look for:

Rebecca DiDomenico: Bold multimedia installations. Photo courtesy of Open Studios
Liz Quan: Sculpted ceramic pieces with a natural elegance. Photo courtesy of Open Studios
Mitch Levin: Whimsical assemblages of found and fabricated elements. Photo courtesy of Open Studios
Theresa Haberkorn: Nature-inspired woodcut prints. Photo courtesy of Open Studios
Mark Rossier: Handcrafted pottery for the table and home. Photo courtesy of Open Studios