Joura shapes his trees using wires and splints, accentuating, say, a trunk's crookedness. The dwarfing process can take a decade, and a healthy bonsai can live a century or more. Joura's tiny bonsai blueberry bushes even bear fruit. —Nan Chase
OJAI, CALIFORNIA—Setting aside a freshly thrown pot, ceramic artist Bruce Tomkinson turns to his visitors and begins to explain why his work is a contrast of old and new. A mile away, guests at printmaker Linda Taylor's studio find her in the garden sketching. Across the valley, as Theodore Gall puts the finishing touches on a wax figure, folks wander through his studio, watching him sculpt and even touching some of his works. The personal encounter is a key part of the Ojai Studio Artists Tour, an annual event launched 23 years ago to spotlight the many artists who live and work in and around Ojai, 90 miles north of Los Angeles. "What makes the tour special is meeting the artists in their studios and having them explain their inspiration," says Marie LaMarr of Encino, California. "It enhanced our experience with the artwork we purchased." Many of the artists have exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution. Held this year on October 13 and 14, the self-paced tour covers about ten miles and more than 40 studios located down rustic roads or surrounded by lemon orchards or perched on hillsides—and sundry points in between. —Kate Sexton
Yeah, Sometimes the Traffic Can Be Really Baaad
KETCHUM, IDAHO—Every October hundreds of sheep take to the streets of this wealthy ski resort town, plodding past a golf course and multi-million-dollar houses during the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. It has been a four-month journey for the sheep, which have trekked 50 miles from their summer pastures in the mountains to Main Street on their way to winter habitats in the high desert 30 miles south. Sheep rancher Diane Peavey suggested the festival about 15 years ago when newcomers began complaining about migrating sheep blocking traffic and spoiling the bike path. Now the event is an attraction for locals and visitors alike, including California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and actress Mariel Hemingway, both of whom own vacation homes in the area and have attended the parade of bleating livestock. Ketchum is just one mile from Sun Valley, a premier ski and vacation destination.
The festival, October 12-14 this year, also features sheepshearing and border collie sheepherding demonstrations, Navajo weaving, storytelling, sheepherder poetry, lamb dishes, Scottish bagpipers (the area's first shepherds were Scots) and Peruvian dancing (later shepherds would come from Peru, Chile, Mexico and Mongolia). There are also tours into the aspen groves to see the arborglyphs, or tree drawings (usually depicting animals, women and churches), that shepherds carved over the years. Sheep ranching's roots here go back to the late 1860s, and by World War II, there were 2.65 million sheep in Idaho—almost six times the human population. Though synthetic fibers and New Zealand and Australian lamb imports have contributed to a decline in Idaho sheep farming, it's still a livelihood for many. "Sheep trailing is not a reenactment," Peavey says. "Festival or not, we would do this." —Karen Bossick