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Mark your calendars: Free self-guided art tour, Open Studios returns in October with 300+ artists

I.B.Bayo, clothing designer and Artist #40 at Open Studios Santa Cruz County.
(Crystal Birns)

This October, join Arts Council Santa Cruz County for the 36th annual Open Studios Art Tour. It’s free, self-guided, and features 322 artists working in dozens of mediums across Santa Cruz County.

The event features seasoned artists who’ve participated since 1986, talented newcomers, and makers and creators of all kinds. Neighbors, friends, collectors, and art lovers are invited to meet the artists, see their creative process up close, and buy art directly from the source.

“Santa Cruz County is a magnet for creative people. The Open Studios Art Tour is a moment when that creativity becomes visible, when artists in every neighborhood throughout the County open their doors to art-lovers, neighbors and friends,” said Ann Ostermann, Open Studios Director for Arts Council Santa Cruz County. “It takes a lot of planning and nerve on the part of participating artists, and it’s a joy to see it pay off with art sales and new relationships formed, old friends reunited, and neighbors getting to know each other.”

A program of Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Open Studios takes place the first three weekends of October. New expanded hours are from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Studios are divided between North and South County (with the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor as the dividing point) on the following schedule:

  • October 1 - 2: North County artists
  • October 8 - 9: South County artists
  • October 15 - 16: All County weekend featuring 268 artists across the county

Many ways to plan your tour, and they’re all FREE!

Whether this is your first Open Studios or you’ve been attending for years, here are a few easy strategies for finding your way:

  1. Pick up a FREE artist guide at Good Times drop-off points throughout the County after September 12. Find artists in your neighborhood, by medium, or simply browse through the guide and find artwork that captures your eye. If you can’t find a guide out in the wild, stop by the Arts Council offices at 1070 River Street in Santa Cruz during open hours - we’ll have a stack here throughout October.
  2. Follow Open Studios on Instagram (@openstudios.scc) to learn more about participating artists and see behind the scenes.
  3. View participating artists on the Open Studios website, map and artist pages.
  4. Download the FREE app – available September 30 on iTunes & Google Play (search for “Open Studios Art Tour”). You can mark favorite artists in the app, map their location, and then build a tour around that.
  5. Follow the green signs. During Open Studios weekends, you’ll see lime green signs with artist names and arrows all over the county. Please consider every Open Studios sign as your own personal invitation. Follow the signs and enter a studio.
  6. Check out the Preview Exhibits. Open September 23 through October 16, Santa Cruz Art League Preview Exhibit features artwork from more than 300 Open Studios artists. It’s a great way to discover artists and plan your tour from there. Pop into the gallery, find artwork that intrigues you, and make a note of which studios you want to visit from there. Meet the artists at the public reception Sunday, September 25 from 3:00 - 6:00 PM.
    • If you’re interested in rural studios, visit the Preview Exhibit at the R. Blitzer Gallery, featuring work by artists in Bonny Doon, Corralitos, Felton and more. Open Oct. 1 through Oct. 16.
  7. Visit one or 100! No one is keeping score. Spend a day or just a few minutes. Open Studios is a self-guided, free tour. Cater it to your style and mood.

New for 2022

1. Arts Council Santa Cruz County has added three new symbols to the artist listings in the Guide:

  • Masks required
  • Habla Español
  • First timer

2. New social channels: @openstudios.scc (Instagram & Facebook)

3. Not all artists have studios that are their work spaces. We don’t want that to be a barrier to participating. So we have a few artists who will be hosting Open Studios in pop-up spaces, either at galleries like Pajaro Valley Arts or hosted by other Open Studios artists. One of them is our cover artist, Hermelinda Vasquez-Matias, artist #318.

About Arts Council Santa Cruz County

The Arts Council generates creativity, vibrancy, and connection in Santa Cruz County. For 40 years, we have fueled our creative community, supporting individual and collective artistic expression and building bridges and bonds between people throughout our county. We know that art changes lives. In Santa Cruz the arts are also an economic driver ($32 million of economic activity annually), contribute to civic pride, and are one of the most powerful vehicles for bringing people together, creating community dialogues, and strengthening relationships.

Through grants to artists and arts organizations, arts education programs that serve more than 17,000 youth across Santa Cruz County, and community initiatives such as Open Studios, the Tannery Arts Center and the Watsonville Movement for Arts & Culture, we help Santa Cruz County thrive. Learn more at our website.