Thursday, October 3, 2013


The first three weekends in October are fast approaching, and we all know what that means! Time to strap on your pith helmet, grab your treasure map, and head out to Open Studios, the self-guided art tour to visit Santa Cruz County artists in their natural habitats—studio, garage, kitchen table, or whatever workspaces they call home.

Most local art lovers already know the drill. But if you're new to the Open Studios experience, here's a handy guide to getting the most out of your custom-designed art adventure.

(And because I'm a journalist, I'll stick to the facts, Ma'am.)

WHO do you really want to see? With over 300 participating artists, you can't possibly see them all (even over three weekends), and following all those giant green signs around the neighborhood can be so random.

Best have a plan for ferreting out your new favorites—which means investing $20 in an OS Art Tour Guide (above) featuring a full color image from every artist in the event, as well as maps, addresses, and contact info to show you how to reach them.  (That's the treasure map I was talking about.)

The Guide also functions as a gorgeously illustrated year-round calendar. Pick one up a bookstores, galleries and art supply stores county-wide.

WHAT does the work really look like? A 2.5-inch square image in the OS Guide is a terrific appetizer. But if you want to know how the work stacks up as a main course, if it can nourish and sustain you over the long haul in your own home, go down to the OS Preview Exhibit at the Santa Cruz Art League (526 Broadway, S C) to see the work in person.
Viewing art, up close and personal
With one life-sized piece from every OS artist on display, the show helps give you a sense of color, texture, quality, materials, and anything else you need to know about the work. The exhibit runs through October 20; hours are Wednesday-Friday, 11 am to 5 pm, and Saturday-Sunday 10 am to 5 pm. (And while you're there, pick up a free color postcard from your favorite OS artist!)

This year, there's also a sister exhibit of North County OS artists—from Davenport, Bonny Doon, San Lorenzo Valley, and Scotts Valley—at the R. Blitzer Gallery (2801 Mission Street, SC). This show is also up through October 20, Tuesday-Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.

WHEN is your designated artist 's studio open? OS is so colossal, its intrepid organizers at the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County have to divide the county in half so visitors aren't completely overwhelmed. This year, North County artists (everyone north of the yacht harbor) open their studios the first weekend, October 5-6.
Art postcards at the SC Art League

South County artists (south of the yacht harbor to Watsonville) open their doors the second weekend, October 12-13. And just to make it interesting, all North and South County artists are invited to participate in Encore Weekend, October 19-20, if they so desire.  To find out when yor artist is open to the public, and whether or not he or she will be open for Encore, refer to your handy OS Guide.

WHERE the heck are these crazy artists located, anyway? That's why you need the map! from the wilds of Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek to the back roads of Live Oak to the hidden byways of Aptos and La Selva Beach, artists tend to stray off the beaten path. It's your job to plot a course to find them. Pick your favorites, then try to find two or three other likely-looking prospects to visit in the same neighborhood, so you can spend less time in your car and more time viewing art!

WHY? Because art matters. It's not extracurricular, it's not an afterthought. It's not a privilege or a luxury. Art is essential to life. Take the tour. Plot your course. Feed your soul.

In other OS news...

Painter, ceramicist, and jewelry-maker Beth Gripenstraw doesn't just show her art. She creates entire fantasy environments. Two years ago, she turned her home into an African safari during Open Studios; last year, she delighted visitors be recreating Paris in the 1920s.

This year she's turning her home into a Mexican hacienda, complete with coordinating paintings, jewelry, and tableware (like these cool pots with a cactus motif). Last I heard, she was painting life-sized masonite burros and looking for a baby pig to borrow for the weekend!

Whatever she comes up with for this year, trust me, you won't want to miss it!  Beth is a North County artist and she will only be open this weekend, October 5-6, 11 am to 5 pm. She's on Towne Terrace in Santa Cruz, # 93 in your Artist's Guide.  I'll see you there!

1 comment:

  1. Beth Gripenstraw creates an amazing environment for her artwork. I have been lucky enough to enjoy both the African Safari and Paris in the 1920s, and am sad that I can't make the journey this year to see what she's created for her Mexican Hacienda. Beth is truly a gifted artist and delightful person. She sparkles as does her artwork!