Open Studios art
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How to Get the Most Out of Open Studios 2018

A guide to Santa Cruz County’s premiere art tour

Peter Vizzusi’s Aptos glass studio is one of the must-see stops on the Open Studios Art Tour.

A vibrant visual pub crawl, Open Studios affords inquiring palates a chance to taste, sample and purchase the latest work from some of our best and most prolific artisans. Three weekends of wandering through more than 300 Santa Cruz County studios and workshops—that’s a lot of eye candy.

But it’s more than that. For collectors, Open Studios is an opportunity to add to their prized sets. For decorators, these weekends afford prime food for thought. For artistic window shoppers, the annual autumn walkabout is a chance to keep eyes peeled for some new treasure.

The action kicks off the weekend of October 6-7 with the entire South County unfurling its showrooms. The following weekend, October 13-14, it’s North County’s turn. The touring wraps up October 20-21 with an All County open house. All studios are open for viewing—artifacts as well as artist demos—from 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. each day.

Visiting the studios open for view is a feast for the eyes. And it’s also a head start on holiday shopping, birthdays or anniversary purchases. So keep your gift list in mind as you go. And pace yourself. There’s a lot to see.

South County offers countless items for the fine art collector. The bold California scapes of Charles Prentiss and plein air oils by Mac McWilliams come to mind. As does the ever-surprising Joe Ortiz and his expressionist paintings. Wearable indulgences like the silk jackets by Deborah Cross or precious gem jewelry from Himani Natu are among the high crafts on view. Never miss the excitement of Peter Vizzusi’s Aptos glass studio.

At the north end of the county, 175 artists will open their doors for your enjoyment. It’s a chance to check out the one-of-a-kind coats and gowns by designer Christina MacColl and the sophisticated jewelry work from Ann Wasserman. Few of us can ever have enough of Kate Nolan’s dramatic earrings, or Denise Peacock’s gemstone bracelets. Don’t stop until you’ve seen the eye-popping textile creations from IBBayo, or the sensitive hand-colored etchings by Stephanie Martin.

The best way to prepare for your Art Tour is to look through the free guide and map, available next to Good Times at locations throughout Santa Cruz County. Or simply follow the bright green signs that will pop up any minute now in neighborhoods throughout the county.

Tips for Open Studios veterans and newscomers alike:

  •  When considering a purchase of artwork, ask yourself whether you could live with it. It’s one thing to inhale the excitement of a new item. It’s another thing to walk by it every morning.
  • Support artists you know and enjoy. While touring, don’t neglect the studios of your friends and colleagues. Moral support is worth its weight in alizarin crimson.
  • Looking for wearable art? Try on that shimmering charm bracelet. Match it to your existing wardrobe. Or take a chance on a breakout design, an unexpected color.
  • Keep an open mind. An unusual vase that has caught your eye might be unlike anything else you’ve ever purchased. Could be the start of a whole new aesthetic attitude.
  • Think like a collector. Investing in a new piece by an artist you already own is a commitment to—and investment in—the value of the work. Build a collection.
  • Ask yourself how you’ll feel when you get home if you don’t buy that beautiful item you just saw. We all know the sting of regret having passed up something wonderful.
  • Enjoy the generosity of artists who bravely open their studios for public consumption. This is usually private turf. Savor the experience!

INFO: Don’t miss the gala Open Studios Preview Exhibit at the Santa Cruz Art League on First Friday, Oct. 5. Also check out the exhibit of artists from Davenport, Bonny Doon, SLV, Scotts Valley, La Selva Beach and Watsonville at R. Blitzer Gallery, 2801 Mission St. Extension. Public Reception First Friday October 5. Both events 5-9pm. santacruzopenstudios.com.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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