❒ Event gives residents ‘backstage pass’ to city’s painters, sculptors, more
By Keri Luiz
More than 50 Benicia artists and artisans will open their doors this weekend and invite the public to see their workspaces, techniques and artwork as part of the annual Open Studios event, presented by Arts Benicia.
“It’s a big deal for the city. Artists from all over town, but concentrated in the Arsenal and around First Street, have their studios open to the public,” said Larnie Fox, Arts Benicia director.
“They put a lot of work getting some new work together for that, and they’re all excited about it.”
Fox said while many Benicians will enjoy Open Studios, it’s also the best time to invite people from out of town to visit the city. Bringing out of town guests to the Arsenal for a few hours, then out to First Street, “will help artists’ sales, help downtown businesses, and it’s good for community image,” he said. “It’s good in a lot of ways.”
While the highest concentration of studios is in the Arsenal near Arts Benicia’s Tyler Street address, Fox said downtown and some outlying areas have their share of studios, too. And “if people go to some of the more outlying ones, they’ll find some rare treats that are definitely worth making the five-minute drive out to see,” he said.
He said the best starting point is Arts Benicia itself, “because we have most of the maps, and we have a show up that showcases the work of each artist who is participating in Open Studios.
“It’s a lot of art. My wife and I went to every single Open Studio. We carefully charted it, and we only had 10 minutes per studio.
“It’s more than the average person could take in, so (visitors will) want to go to Arts Benicia to pick the ones they are most interested in.”
While Open Studios has become a Benicia tradition, there’s something new this year, too: a tote bag, sponsored by Benicia Magazine and Allied Waste, for the tour. “It has the Arts Benicia logo on it, and the logo of their two businesses,” Fox said.
The bag will be useful for tour-takers, he said: It will contain the Open Studios map, a brochure about Arts Benicia, a copy of Benicia Magazine and many other informational items to promote the city.
Fox encourages people to come to the Open Studios because “it’s fun. It’s a festive thing for the whole town. Benicia has an unusually large, unusually vibrant, unusual level of quality of art community. Saturday and Sunday will be the best chance for people to see that in action.
“Seeing an artist in their actual environment and being able to talk to them will give (visitors) a much greater appreciation for the work of the artist.”
If You Go
Open Studios will take place this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at various studio locations throughout the Arsenal, First Street, and other parts of the city. To pick up a map of participating studios and to view the group exhibit of Open Studio artists, visit Arts Benicia, 991 Tyler St., Suite 114. For more information visit www.ArtsBenicia.org.