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Ready, set, go! It’s time for the annual On & Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour, set for Saturday, Feb. 17, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 18, from noon to 5 p.m.

“On & Off Fred,” as participants call it, is the only time of the year when artists in this part of town open their home studios, cooperatives, and pop-ups for this unique and magical event. From reclaimed former neighborhood grocery stores to intimate backyard sanctuaries, the studios on the tour provide the environments in which area artists create a broad selection of handmade artworks, such as large ceramic and stone sculptures, jewelry, fashion, metalworks, fiber and textile arts, one-of-a-kind light fixtures, art photography, hand-crafted and upcycled furniture, and a variety of paintings, drawings and prints in all mediums. Demonstrations, hospitality, and opportunities to purchase art directly from the artists are all part of the 11th On & Off Fred experience.

The tour weekend kicks off Friday evening, Feb. 16, 6-9 pm, with the not-to-be-missed On & Off Fred Autograph Party at Bihl Haus Arts, 2803 Fredericksburg Rd. This preview exhibition showcases one work by each of the more than 80 featured artists on the tour this year. They will be on hand to autograph personal copies of the tour catalog. Lavish hors d’oeuvres, wine, live music by Latin fusion band Los Nahuatlatos, with jazz vocalist Carol Cisneros performing between sets, hands-on art-making with Jane Madrigal, flash performances, and the opportunity to mingle with artists, event sponsors, and community leaders will fill the evening.

Take the self-guided daytime tour on Saturday, Feb. 17, 11 am to 6 pm, and on Sunday, February 18, noon to 5 p.m. Arrive by car, bike, or bus, or take a combination. On Saturday evening after the tour, pop by the kid-friendly reception at the Blanco roundabout to enjoy live music and poetry, face-painting and food trucks, then take in a play at 7:30 pm at Classic Theatre on Fredericksburg Road.

From its inception in 2007, the mission of the On & Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour has been to promote the work of diverse visual and cultural artists, enhance appreciation for the arts in our community, and stimulate economic revitalization and cultural tourism in the participating neighborhoods that border Fredericksburg Road.

In its 11th year, that vision is coming to fruition. The arts are thriving on and off Fred Road. The Woodlawn Theatre reopened six years ago, the Classic Theater moved into Woodlawn’s Black Box in 2013, and Jump-Start Performance Co. opened in April 2013. Combined with the 100-year-old Playhouse, now The Public Theater of San Antonio, right around the corner on Ashby, the area has become a mecca for lovers of live local theater.

Other area for- and nonprofit art businesses have opened or expanded over the last few years, such as the artist cooperatives and galleries Centro Cultural Aztlan, Jenssen Gallery, Jane Dunnewold Studios, Hausmann Millworks, and Corazones on Fire. Edit Point Studios, a recording studio and performance and exhibition space, just opened on Donaldson Avenue. Domésticas Unidas on Fulton Avenue, a domestic workers cooperative and part-time gallery, is back for the second year. After a brief hiatus, Clamp Light Studios & Gallery returned to the tour. Local for-profit businesses that showcase the arts include Deco Pizzeria, Vee’s Hair & Spa, Rey Garza Real Estate, The Junction, The Marantile, and Karolina’s Antiques. Each features artists who live and/or work in the area.

Featured artists new to the tour this year are Moe Profane, David Sirebrenik, Vesna Zrinski, Fran Rich, Gary Perkins, Kim Bishop, Luis Valderas, Shirley Dierlam, Kristina Uriegas-Reyes, Steve Tyson, Douglas Galloway, Kimberly Hopkins, Kevin Peckham,Kenneth Schwoerke, Gary Williamson, Robert Cañedo, Flor Ameira, Brittany Ham, Barbara Miñarro, and Anthony “The Lemonade” Diaz.

As you drive or bike through our neighborhoods, you’ll begin to understand why each of us has chosen to live and work here. Delightful, eclectic architecture interspersed by small villages of locally owned businesses, a sense of history and inviting public spaces – from expansive Woodlawn Lake to our beloved little “pocket” and linear parks and community gardens tucked among quiet streets – contribute to our communal sense of “pride of place,” the perfect environment for art-making and living the creative lifestyle. With the catalog and its map, you’ll be ready for what we believe will be a pleasurable and oh-so-surprising experience. Let the art begin!

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Kellen Kee McIntyre

Kellen Kee McIntyre is the executive director of Bihl Haus Arts.