Travel Blog

Your Guide to Open Studios

Jasper Marino, Artist #114 North County and All County Open Studios Artist - Photo Michael Baba

Santa Cruz is home to a vibrant community of artists, creators, and makers who open up their private studio spaces to the public once a year to share the beauty of their artistic endeavors. Open Studios is a yearly event that spans the first three weeks of October and allows visitors and locals alike the unique opportunity to see artists at work in their own spaces. If you have never experienced this phenomenal event, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Open Studios.

David Salazar, artist #107 North County Open Studios Artist
David Salazar, artist #107 North County Open Studios Artist – Photo by Crystal Birns

The Arts Council of Santa Cruz County hosts the Open Studios Art Tour every year to connect artists with art lovers from the Santa Cruz to Watsonville area. The event, which features over 300 talented artists and their spaces, is entirely free and self-guided. The Open Studios Art Tour divides the participating artists by their counties so that each weekend (with the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor as the dividing point between counties), the public can visit artists in a given area during the beginning of October. The third and final weekend is encore time, where select artists reopen their studios all across the Santa Cruz and Watsonville area at the same time.

Save the Dates for Open Studios 2022:

Photo by Monica Multer during Open Studios - Maïa Negre, Artist #231 South County and All County Open Studios Artist.
Maïa Negre, Artist #231 South County and All County Open Studios Artist – Photo by Monica Multer

Planning your Open Studios Time

With over 300 talented participating artists and studios to visit, it can feel hard to pick or plan out which ones to visit! The best way to plan your time is to grab a free artists guide from numerous locations across Santa Cruz County after September 12. You can pick yours up at any Good Times drop-off locations or head over to the Arts Council offices at 1070 River Street in Santa Cruz during open hours. Within the artists guide, you will find information about all the artists, where to find them, the mediums they use, and a sneak-peek picture of their works. There are some new featured symbols in the guide this year including Masks Required, Habla Español, and First Timer.

The Santa Cruz Art League Preview Exhibit is another fantastic way to discover artists and plan your tour from there. Starting September 23 through October 16th, there will be special preview exhibits where you can view select pieces from the participating artists to help you decide which you want to visit. Come stop by the gallery to find artwork that intrigues you, and make a note of which studios you want to visit from there. Finally, you can also meet the artists at the public reception event happening on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 3–6 pm. Another great way to plan your time is by viewing the Art Council’s Visual Arts Network. The Visual Arts Network is a digital space where you can preview the artwork of 126 Visual Arts Network artists that will be part of Open Studios this October. You can search through participating artists through filters including name, location, medium, and a wide array of tags including Taking Appointments, Commissions Available, Custom Orders Available, and Hablamos español. There is also a free app available after Sept. 30 on iTunes & Google Play (search for “Open Studios Art Tour”). You can mark your favorite artists in the app, map their location, and then build a tour around that.

The Studio of Aaron Johnson, a past Open Studios Artist – Photo by Monica Multer

What to Expect

Once you’ve planned out which artists to visit, you might wonder what awaits you during the Open Studios Art Tour. On Open Studios weekends, bright green signs will be posted all over the county featuring the artists’ names, guide numbers, and arrows pointing to help you locate the studios. These lime green signs will guide the way to artists nearby and act as a personal invitation for you to come to explore their studios!

Every artist has a unique studio or pop-up space to share with visitors, but generally, at each open studio you can expect to enter the home, studio, or pop-up space of the artist where you can often find snacks or refreshments as well as a wide array of their artwork on display. The displayed artwork is for viewing and purchase. Some artists will even have live demonstrations of their artistic process or display the drafts of work-in-progress projects.

The drafts of Darci Bogdan, Artist #79 North County and All County Open Studios Artist – Photo by Monica Multer

Open Studios is more than a chance to look at beautiful artwork in all of its mediums. This event highlights the wealth of creative talent in Santa Cruz County by connecting our community through creative pursuits. Whether you are a friend, family, neighbor, art-connoisseur, collector, or artist, Open Studios Art Tour is the best way to join the thriving community of artists here in Santa Cruz County.

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