CHELSEA — More than 80 artists will throw open the doors to their studios for a public art tour this weekend meant to highlight West Chelsea's transformation from industrial to an artistic hub.
Now in its second year, the West Chelsea Artists Open Studios will give New Yorkers the chance to go on a self-guided tour of art studios throughout the neighborhood through Sunday.
"Galleries started to come up this way to Chelsea to get industrial-size spaces for a cheaper rate," said artist and founder Scott Mycklebust, who moved his workspace to the neighborhood when he began to notice rents skyrocket in his former neighborhood, TriBeCa.
"When art moves in, people follow."
The area has seen a huge increase in foot traffic in recent years, largely because of the dozens of new galleries that have opened there, along with the opening of the High Line. The goal of the upcoming Open Studios is to give exposure to artists who might otherwise be hidden away in studios above the well-traveled galleries.
The event will kick off with a preview opening reception and exhibition at Studio 1440B of the Starrett-Lehigh Building at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
The festival has grown from roughly 60 artists last year to over 80 this time around. It's also gained a big corporate sponsor — AT&T — which has allowed artists to participate for free.
"It's free to the artist and free to the public," Mycklebust said. "That's what art should be."
The event will feature artists from 16 buildings around the neighborhood, including nine from 55 Bethune St., a building that was not on the roster in 2011.
There will also be dozens of artists with work on display at the aptly-named West Chelsea Arts Building at 526 W. 26th St., including Mycklebust himself, controversial creator of all things arty Ultra Violet, and sculptor Arlene Rush.
Visitors hoping to get their weekend fill of Chelsea artists can get a map of all the studios on display at the event's website. Copies of the guide are also available at local businesses, galleries, and the featured arts buildings.