Self-guided tours begin at the Jacoby Arts Center (627 East Broadway; 618-462-5222) in Alton and at US Bank (101 North Main Street; 618-692-7000) in Edwardsville at 11 a.m. both weekends, and exhibits close at 5 p.m. Of the 200 or so artists exhibiting their works for free, don't miss Jim Lynn, whose technique is reminiscent of Jackson Pollock, at the Jacoby Arts Center. You might also want to check out Chad Nelson, whose ceramics on display at Mississippi Mud Pottery (310 East Broadway; 618-462-7573) bring to mind one word: arthropod.
One of the Art EAST tours' greatest perks is the chance to see art somewhere more relaxed than the usual highfalutin galleries and stuffy museums. Many of the stops on both the Alton and Edwardsville tours are artists' personal studios -- Tracy Earle works with fused glass at her Alton studio (622 East 20th Street; 618-465-9957), the ninth stop on this weekend's tour. And next weekend, be sure to visit Old Poag Road Clay & Glass in Edwardsville (5519 Old Poag Road; 618-656-7775), where Dan Anderson and Caroline Bottom Anderson have their glass works and ceramics on display (Caroline's work is pictured at right). Not to knock the galleries -- they're doing plenty of business during Art EAST -- but one can expect a more casual atmosphere throughout the weekends than at your average wine-and-cheese affairs. Visit www.greatriverroad.com/arteast.htm or call 618-656-3348 for more information.