With the Open Studios Art Tour set for the weekends of Oct. 1-2, Oct. 8-9 and Oct. 15-16, here’s your guide for getting around Santa Cruz County and taking advantage of all the great artists welcoming you into their creative spaces. You’ll find painting, sculpture, mixed media, photography, jewelry, woodworking, metal, glass, mosaics, clothing, ceramics and more.
Open Studios is upon us again, and Santa Cruz County art lovers should never take for granted the sheer bounty of dedicated working artists in this community.
Every year, going back to the mid-1980s, visual artists from every corner of the county have opened their creative spaces to the community to showcase their best work in painting, sculpture, mixed-media, photography, jewelry, woodworking, metal, glass, mosaics, clothing, ceramics and more.
The tour runs for three consecutive weekends in October, starting Saturday, and though that sounds like a lot of time, we’re talking about well over 300 artists from Davenport to Watsonville, juried by the program’s sponsor Arts Council Santa Cruz County.
Here’s how it works: Check outwho’s participating this year, and make your plans to visit. On Oct. 1 and 2, North County artists get the spotlight. On Oct. 8-9, the focus shifts to South County. And the final weekend, Oct. 15-16, is reserved for a special encore weekend for all county artists.
To give a sense of the dizzying variety of artists and their mediums, we present this guide for 22 artists to watch out for at Open Studios 2022, in no particular order. The tour is a great experience, but you may come away with more than just memories. Support your local artists and buy some art We’ve included a link in each artist brief, and that will give you both when they are open and where to find them.
1115 Thompson Ave, Suite 9, Santa Cruz. Artist No. 221.
Creating value from someone else’s throwaways is a Santa Cruz arts tradition, and few do it with as much panache as Kurt Smiley. Much of what the metal sculptor creates comes from scrap metal and other scavenged “upcycled” materials. The results are striking pieces that, with their ocean and coastal themes, communicate an unmistakable Santa Cruz vibe.
413 High St., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 69.
Some of us are suckers for beautiful stained glass, and Haven Livingston of Wavehaven Glass creates stunned stained-glass pieces inspired by landscapes. She uses the “Tiffany” method, which is a 20-step process, and the results are stunning evocations of natural beauty that demand to be hung in a window.
Tessa Hope Hasty
7258 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz. Artist No. 7.
Bonny Doon painter Tessa Hope Hasty makes art inspired by landscapes with an appealing, highly graphic look that somehow makes beautiful vistas even more vivid. She’s also got a soft spot for mermaid imagery.
2200 Wallace Ave., Aptos. Artist No. 294.
There is something unmistakably fun and cheeky about the collage art of Cristina Sayers. She draws from Americana and pop culture, as well as the 1980s, satirical humor, advertising, surf culture, and political commentary, all to create seductive designs you can’t stop looking at.
2533C Mission St., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 24.
Yes, furniture making is an art, and Santa Cruz’s Tom Truman makes furniture pieces that pay respect to the wood from which it is made. Emphasizing the textural power of the grain and the natural shapes give Truman’s work a rough-hewn authenticity.
115 Naglee Ave., Santa Cruz. Artist No.40.
There may be no more prominent local fashion designer working today than Nigerian-born I.B. Bayo, an artist of such distinctive style that you can spot his outfits instantly. Bayo’s breathtaking dresses, coats and outerwear are monuments to color and style.
420 Parnell St., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 112.
Born and raised in Santa Cruz while also spending much of her life in Hawaii, it makes too much sense that artist Louanne Korver would choose surfboards as a canvas. She also pursues a passion for tropical botanicals, beach scenes, portraiture, and the ocean.
1633 Quail Hollow Road, Ben Lomond. Artist No. 159.
If you love flowers and you like glass art, you need to connect with Suzanne Caron immediately. Caron has the temerity to try to create lasting art from the ephemeral designs of nature in life-sized flowers of glass and metal. It gives a whole new meaning to buying flowers for Valentine’s Day.
1 Blue Hill Court, Scotts Valley. Artist No. 179.
There are portraits, then there are the portraits of acrylic artist Martine Mahoudeau who is somehow able to imbue her paintings of people with an unmistakable air of haunted vulnerability. She also does abstracts that invite the same kind of wonder.
451 Tuttle Ave., Watsonville. Artist No. 323.
From paintings to prints to prayer flags,Melissa West creates art with a point of view, often a political one. In her paintings, she tends toward sweeping landscapes, but in her prints, there is a discernible social sensibility at work.
126 Escalona Drive, Santa Cruz. Artist No. 66.
Santa Cruz’s Susan Else has a unique artist viewpoint: She creates sculptures with cloth. Her pieces embrace a number of big themes, from folklore to mortality, often with a sense of humor and personality, using quilted fabric as a kind of decorative skin over sculptures that often incorporate sound, light and movement.
1457 High St., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 9.
Jewelry artist Elizabeth Ngo is into two things: buttons, expressed in rings, necklaces and other jewelry; and a long-lost Europe of the Victorian era. Her beautiful pieces reflect that antique style and sensibility, all centered on the design of the modest Victorian button.
202 Frederick St.., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 137.
Fine-art photography is certainly a big part of the Open Studios story, and a great example of artist who really embraces the possibilities of the camera is Robert Mahrer, whose imagery moves effortlessly from stunning realism to contemplative abstracts.
265 Babe Thompson Road, La Selva Beach. Artist No. 305.
Charles Prentiss remains one of Santa Cruz County’s most important (and underappreciated) artists embracing paintings, prints, drawings and mixed-media pieces with his trademark grasp of bold color and beguiling form.
1037 17th Ave., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 251.
If you have functioning eyeballs, you’ve most likely already seen the art of Taylor Reinhold, one of Santa Cruz County’s most prolific and imaginative muralists. He was the guiding force behind the Made Fresh Crew that dropped a huge number of new murals in Santa Cruz back in the fall of 2021. Now, he’s ready to show another side of his art in Open Studios.
116 McPherson St., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 28.
Jewelry artist Savannah Rigney practices the ancient art of wax casting, hand-carving her pieces in wax to have them rendered into gold, silver, or bronze. Her pieces are often inspired by the natural environment.
133 Glenwood Ave., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 100.
Visual artist and singer/songwriter Russell Brutsche is a Santa Cruz original, a man with a defiantly socio-political sensibility who’s not afraid to rattle some cages with his cheeky and provocative images taking direct aim at a growth-oriented, consumerist mentality and the world it’s creating.
511C Swift St., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 35.
There can be no mistaking the love of place in the paintings of Santa Cruz’s Annika James. She is no doubt an artist entranced by the landscapes of Northern California, from natural forms to architecture. But she also pursues an interest in abstracts as well that dance playfully with color.
517 Riverview Drive, Capitola. Artist No. 237.
You have to wonder: Is there anything
can’t do? He’s already famous around the Central Coast as the master baker at Gayle’s in Capitola. He’s also made a name for himself as a playwright and musician. But he’s also an accomplished painter in oils and printmaker as well.
1060 River St., No. 104, Santa Cruz. Artist No. 96.
A familiar face at the Tannery Arts Center and the resident artist at the Apricity Gallery at the Tannery, Sarah Bianco has been exploring many realms of the visual arts since graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in fine arts. Her signature style often finds figures playing in a field of abstract imagery, evoking joy and adventure.
108 Rathburn Way, Santa Cruz. Artist No. 124.
Now in his 80s, largely self-taught painter Burt Levitsky has turned his mid-century influences into a style all his own, an approach he likens to magical realism. Whatever you call it, his art certainly captures the grace and personality of its subjects.
1619 King St., Santa Cruz. Artist No. 54.
With training in scientific illustration, printmaker Stacy Frank has turned her love of natural forms into a unique style of art, creating big bold monoprints from all sorts of floral and botanical shapes.