The concept of the Crossing Borders Studio Tour started as a conversation between Fritz Lehmberg and Dick Cooter around the time of their joint show, Same Road, Different Views. The concept was to create a studio tour that would allow buyers to learn about the experience of making art within the environment the creative work takes place. The tour would also help build community among North Shore artists. Fritz and Dick invited other area artists to participate in the tour, including Michael Tonder and Jody Freij-Tonder. Michael and Jody had experience with studio tours in Red Wing, and had visited the St. Croix Valley Potter’s Tour in previous years.

Together, they invited artists they knew: Lee and Dan Ross, Dave Yungner in Minnesota, and Damon Dowbak in Thunder Bay. The group gathered in the spring of 1996 to plan for the tour. Lee came up with the “Crossing Borders” name, and the first Crossing Borders Studio Tour took place in the fall of 1996. The first year of the tour, six studios and nine individual artists participated and sales managed to just cover expenses. Dick Cooter claimed he was surprised anyone came.

Through the years most of the core group of artists participating in the tour remain. Other artists have joined in the tour and some have dropped out, but sales and visitors have steadily risen. The group is careful with change. All major decisions are discussed and, unless consensus is reached, no action is taken. Buyer education remains a vital part of the Crossing Borders experience, and only full-time working artists are involved. The group has also been inviting visiting artists to participate in the tour since 2005. Please join us as we celebrate and continue the tradition of art, education and community along the North Shore at the Crossing Borders Studio Tour.