There was free wine, free food and the sun was shining, so the Marin Open Studios (MOS) Gala Preview last Saturday night, April 26, at the Bon Air Center in Greenbrae was standing room only. The 260 artists participating in the show were no doubt in attendance and they alone were enough to jam the two showrooms — one representing southern Marin artists, the other representing northern Marin artists.
Artists, wannabe artists, Marinites who consider themselves cultured (or wannabe cultured) and even a few real collectors, mingled over wine and cheese at the festive event, with everyone jostling to view the art on display. While it wasn’t easy to navigate the galleries and actually see all the art, there were plenty of MOS painters, sculptors and photographers willing to chat it up on the sidelines –– many familiar faces of Sausalito Art Festival, ICB or local fame –– but also new artists. This is of course, always the best part of the party. It’s called “conversations in creativity.” Take Jill Culver, whose studio is in Novato. Jill left corporate America to paint “soul portraits” – a sort of intuitive portraiture. Intentionally knowing nothing about her clients, she will ask them to sit with her; she “reads” them, meditates and delivers the images that resonate with her. Side note: she utilizes the same process with pets!
The Gala kicked off what will be the 21st Marin Open Studios program that offers a free, self-guided tour of artist’s studios and galleries throughout Marin for the first two weekends in May. The two gallery exhibits (tucked amongst the shops at Bon Air — #160 and #286) showcase one piece from every one of the 260 artists offering a glimpse of what art aficionados will find when they follow the MOS art trail. It’s a teaser of sorts; an inspiration perhaps.
How to Map Your Tour d’Art
While the two Bon Air galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., for the next two weeks, the artist’s studios are only open on the next two weekends: May 3-4 and May 10-11. The best plan of attack (unless you have excess time) is to visit the two gallery exhibits at Bon Air to scope out the artists and what you might like to see. Or go to the MOS online gallery, marinopenstudios.com. Or flip through your May issue of Marin Magazine which has the entire tour guide and map inserted. While not impossible, it may be a bit daunting to hit every open studio in Marin County, but these resources will help you pick and choose.
Watercolor artist Kay Carlson, the executive director of MOS who helped save it from extinction several years ago said, “We are very dedicated to supporting the visual arts of Marin; in addition to the month-long exhibition at Bon Air and the open studios, we have plein air events, and year round educational and programming resources.” Kay and the entire MOS board are to be applauded for their efforts in promoting the arts in Marin. And kudos to the Bon Air Center for donating the space.
I could tell you my favorite artists, but that would spoil all your fun and besides, taste in art is like one’s taste in wine….it varies. Dramatically. But do catch the show, visit the artist’s studios; they’re not always open to the public; get a glimpse of lives devoted to art. You’ll find a huge range of affordable art and I am insistent that no home should be without original art.