Linda Budge Peeps

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For the love of art: Hidden in the Hills celebrating 20 years

11/9/16

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

NORTH VALLEY – Amazing artistic talent is “hidden in the hills” of the northeast valley, and the Sonoran Arts League is once again highlighting it through the Hidden in the Hills artist studio tour and art sale.

Now in its 20th year, Hidden in the Hills is a signature Sonoran Arts league event that unites Cave Creek, Carefree, and north Scottsdale artists with the community and beyond. The event is nationally known and attracts thousands of patrons each year.

“It’s really a delightful show,” said artist Linda Budge. “Everybody tries to roll out the red carpet and welcome people.”

(Judy Bruce - Kid with Button)

Budge appreciates the opportunity to demonstrate to visitors how she puts together her artwork and the inspiration behind her art.

“This is what makes Hidden in the Hills so unique. It’s an absolutely phenomenal event. Sonoran Arts League has done an amazing job putting this together,” Budge said.

Artist Judy Bruce noted that Hidden in the Hills offers the opportunity for artists to meet the people who are buying their work.

“It’s real community support for the arts,” Bruce said, noting that she’s had up to 1,700 visitors come by her studio during HITH.

“It’s fun, and it’s always been rewarding, and it’s great to meet people who connect with your art,” Bruce said.

Artist Carole Perry serves as the Hidden in the Hills marketing chair, and she said she personally sends out over 2,700 invitations, at least 750 of those out of state for the event.

“We have had guests coming from all over the country since the early 2000s,” Perry said.

Perry offered background on how the Hidden in the Hills studio tour came to be; before Hidden in the Hills, the Sonoran Arts League held an annual Art Show. Looking for a way to distinguish the show, the League took the suggestion of Jan Taylor, one of the original chairs of Hidden in the Hills: an art tour, in which guests would be invited to artists’ studios.

“At some point we overcame the initial fear that people wouldn’t be willing to drive from venue to venue, and realized this was a perfect fit with the League mission, which is to promote art, artists and art education,” Perry shared. “We would be providing an opportunity for people to see the process of creating art, discuss the motivation and inspiration that an individual artist has without the overwhelming expectation that to engage with an artist requires a purchase.”

Hidden in the Hills blossomed from there. Perry noted that 44 artists participated in HITH in the first year; by the tenth year, 133 artists were participating in the tour. Now, on the 20th anniversary, Hidden in the Hills will showcase 47 studios with 188 artists, and is the oldest and largest studio tour in the Southwest.

“We have strived, since the beginning, to put the emphasis on sharing what we do, how we do it and why,” Perry explained.

The focus on sharing the inspiration and background of their art gives artists new connection to their community and beyond. Many artists on the tour also offer guest artists room in their studios, enhancing the HITH tour for visitors. All HITH artists are members of the Sonoran Arts League, and some of them travel from around the state to participate in Hidden in the Hills.

Bruce, who is number 44 on the studio tour, taught art for 35 years, both in junior high and elementary levels. She said that she’s been able to connect with many former students, and many of them have come through her studio in Hidden in the Hills tours. Bruce has been participating in HITH since 2003.

Budge is number 42 on the tour, and she and Bruce are neighbors and friends. They and another artist neighbor work together to ensure guests have a wonderful time during HITH.

“Every year, it’s gotten better and better,” said Budge, who is in her fourteenth year participating. “It’s an absolutely wonderful show.”

 Bruce and Budge have vastly different art styles, which is representative of Hidden in the Hills – the studio tour offers everything from sculptures to jewelry to paintings, all representing a wide variety of artistic visions.

Perry noted that a wide price range is represented at HITH; shoppers can find small gift items such as simple jewelry and notecards or large items such as statement art pieces.

“Most artists make an effort to have affordable pieces of sculpture as well as functional art when possible,” Perry said.

Artists sometimes introduce special collections during the HITH tour. Budge’s newest series, which she’ll be sharing with HITH participants, is The Peeps, which focuses on the lives of baby quail.

“I’m mesmerized by them and their adventures,” Budge said of the quail.

Bruce expects to display approximately 50 new pieces of art at this year’s tour, in addition to another 50 pieces from last year. Bruce’s art has the surrealist touch, and in her over 50 years of creating art, she has always shown an impressionist or expressionistic style.

“I’ve always done people,” Bruce said, adding that even as child, she loved to “just sit and draw people.” 

Through Hidden in the Hills, visitors can hear stories like Bruce’s, detailing their inspiration throughout their years of creating art. HITH offers a unique connection between artists and art lovers. 

“There are adults today who were first exposed to art through HITH as children,” Perry said. “We have countless art lovers and collectors today who say they would never miss HITH and bought their first piece of original art at one of our studios.”

Hidden in the Hills artists are united in the goals of bringing beauty to the world and sharing the joys of art with those around them.

“We believe that learning about the art process will lead to a greater appreciation of art and the contribution it makes to all of our lives!” Perry emphasized.

Hidden in the Hills runs Nov. 18-20 and Nov. 25-27. See a full map of participating studios and learn more at www.HiddenintheHills.org or call (480) 575-6624.