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Sonoma County Gazette

Art Trails 2018: Open Studios, Open Hearts

Oct 15, 2018


By Cynthi Stefenoni

October is here again. And with it, the memory of another October comes to mind: October 2017, the year of the Tubbs Fire. This event is seared indelibly in many of our minds and none more than those of the artists of the Sonoma County Art Trails community. 

When residents of Sonoma County awoke that fateful Monday, October 9, we were met with news of flames, smoke, evacuation and loss. Few in the path of California’s worst wildfire at the time were spared, and that included members of the Sonoma County Art Trails artists’ community.

With Open Studios already set to take place the following two weekends, decisive action needed to be implemented quickly. To their credit, the SoCo Art Trails community, in tandem with their sponsoring organization, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, mobilized immediately.

After learning that seven of their members had lost not only their homes, but their studios as well, this body of caring and talented individuals voted to delay the Open Studios by one week in order to give everyone a chance to re-group. In addition, all artists still able to participate were encouraged to garner donations for those who had lost their art inventory and/or their homes.

Art Trails Flyer

This they did, collectively raising more than $26,000 in donations for their fellow artists during the Open Studios weekends. They set the bar for caring as they opened their studios and opened their hearts and put giving to others at the top of their lists.

October is a beautiful month in Sonoma County: fall colors abound, the Harvest and crush take place, and there’s a certain snap in the air that hints of cooler weather and fireplaces. It’s a perfect time to travel our highways and byways, soaking up the day and visiting another County treasure: Sonoma County Art Trails Open Studios.

If you’ve ever wondered how potters fire their work, weavers warp a loom, jewelers cast precious metals, or painters work their magic, you are in luck! During the weekends of October 13-14 and 20-21, you can follow the blue signs placed along the roads and highways, and visit some of the County’s best artists in their studios. They are eager to share their talents and their art, and give you a peek into their creative process.

Unsure of how to choose which artists to visit?

Take advantage of the various preview exhibits taking place across the County. Sebastopol Center for the Arts (Sebastopol), Corrick’s (Santa Rosa), Gallery One (Petaluma) and the Paul Mahder Gallery (Healdsburg) all have exhibitions of the work of various artists available for viewing in the weeks prior to the open studios weekends. While you’re there, pick up aSonoma County Art Trails Collector’s Guide and plan your routes to the studios. Then get ready to embark upon a grand adventure: your very own, self-curated tour of the abundance of artists who live and work in Sonoma County. Prepare to be inspired and amazed!

For a downloadable copy of the Art Trails Collector’s Guide, a Google map of the studios, and a complete list of Preview Exhibit dates and locations, please visit


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