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A Guide to the Tannery Arts Center

A Guide to the Tannery Arts Center

BY MOLLY LAUTAMO

For years Santa Cruz has been missing a central hub for the arts – a place near downtown for artists to live, work, and share their creative process and its results with the public. The Tannery Arts Center has been actively working to create that hub since opening 100 affordable live-work units for artists in 2009 and 28 working studios in 2012.


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Accessible from downtown Santa Cruz via the San Lorenzo riverwalk, this creative space is, according to a Tannery brochure, “the art mecca of Santa Cruz.” No other space in the county even comes close to the variety of educational programming, events, and shows around the arts found in this cluster of historic red-roofed buildings.

Whether you’re looking to experience art as an appreciator, try your hand at a new medium, or perfect your practice, the Tannery has a unique program, event, or space to accommodate you. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look.

A Space for Art Appreciators: The Radius Gallery

As you enter the Radius Gallery you feel calmer, quieter, ready to gain a wider perspective. Time slows as you take in each piece – the only sound is your footsteps and a quick intake of breath when you come across a piece that truly moves you. The gallery features six exhibits throughout the year and is the only professional gallery at the Tannery that doesn’t also function as a workspace.


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“Art challenges you; it pushes you. It deepens the human experience and helps us see the world through a bigger lens,” says Ann Hazels, the gallery’s director.

After hours, the gallery is available as an event space for private groups or public events. And in the near future, Hazels hopes to start Freelancer Fridays – several hours every week where the space is open to freelancers and their laptops looking for an alternative space to work.


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Also not to miss is the wide hallway adjacent to the gallery that features a rotating exhibit of paintings, photography, ceramics and 18 other mediums by Tannery artists.

Visit the Radius Gallery Wed-Sunday 12-5pm. The hallway of art is open to the public most days of the week – if the door is open, you’re welcome to explore.

Workshops and Classes for Aspiring, Experienced, and Curious Artists

If you’re looking to get your hands dirty (or put on your dancing shoes), ten of the Tannery’s studios offer educational programming. There’s something for everyone – from little ones eager to experiment to adults searching for a creative outlet. Check out the list below and dare yourself to try something new.

(Most classes require advance reservations, so make sure to visit the artist’s website for more information.)

Dance: Express yourself through movement (and get a great workout) with Haitian dance, salsa, samba and more through Tannery World Dance. Youth and adult classes for dancers of all levels are available throughout the week.


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Art for Kids: Camp Tannery Arts connects youth with experienced artists in a range of mediums including printmaking, comic art, dance, theater, figurative drawing, music, and book making.

Fine Art: Practice figure drawing and sculpting with The Neoteric Renaissance School of Art or partake in life drawing sessions with an artist.

 

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Crafts: Learn to sew your own clothes with Sonia Le of Cosmo Chic or rent your own bench space to make jewelry, complete with tools, through Jewelry Toolery. For something that requires a little less dexterity, create your own cards at the collage card workshop with Printmakers at the Tannery.

Psychic Art: Tap into the language of symbols, dreams, and archetypes with Elemental Art Studio’s Soul Collage class or try an open meditation every Friday evening from 4-8pm.

Writing: Prefer expressing yourself with the written word? Catamaran offers writing workshops for various levels and interests.

Tannery Events

The Tannery holds a variety of community events as part of their mission to make the arts more accessible to the general public. Take a date, plan a night out with the girls, or bring the whole family to one of these art-focused experiences. For more details visit the Tannery calendar.

Open Studios in October. Once a year artists from around the county open up their studios and give visitors an immersive and engaging experience into their work. For more information click here.

Thursday Art Markets: On Thursdays, from 5-8pm, wrap up your day with food trucks, kid’s classes, live art demonstrations, and live music.

First Fridays, 6-9pm: Open studios, live music, demonstrations, art activities, and more.

Winter Art Market the first weekend in December.

Performances at the Colligan Theater: The Tannery’s much-anticipated, newly renovated Colligan Theater offers a variety of live performances.

Coming soon:

Musical Open Mic every Wednesday starting with a singer/songwriter workshare at 5pm.

Next time you’re searching for an activity that’s both fun and fulfilling, swing by the Tannery Arts Center and look for an open studio door – you never know what inspiration might lie behind it.

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