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Art Trails: Sonoma County Artists Open Their Studios

Art lovers take note: the creative bounty of Sonoma County is on display each October, when selected artists welcome the public into their studios as part of the annual Sonoma County Art Trails event. 

View/download the 2016 Art Trails - Open Studios catalog here.

Craft your own artistic itinerary exploring Sonoma County's byways and back roads, meeting with creative artists in their studios, viewing their work, and gaining insight into their artistic vision. More than 150 selected artists' studios will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on two weekends, Oct. 8, 9, 15, and 16, 2016. Studio locations stretch from Geyserville in the north to Petaluma in the south, and from the town of Sonoma in eastern Sonoma County to Bodega Bay on the coast.

The self-guided studio tour continues a long-standing tradition that recently gained new energy and sponsorship.

The Sebastopol Center for the Arts now sponsors the fall Sonoma County Art Trails. The name is slightly different from the former ARTrails and there's a different logo, but the experience stays the same. 

"This event took the place of the previous fall open studio event," says Linda Galletta, executive director of the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. "Many of the artists who participated in ARTrails for 20-some years are participating in this new program."

The Sebastopol Center for the Arts also hosts the Art at the Source studio tour in western Sonoma County  each spring. Adding a fall studio tour was a natural step, Galletta says.

"This is what we do," she explains. "Taking on a fall open studio program fit right into our program of work."

Like previous fall studio tours, Sonoma County Art Trails is a juried event. Artists must apply and be approved by an outside panel of experts. Each participating artist must also provide an original piece of art for the preview exhibition at the Sebastopol Center of the Arts, and volunteer their time to help make the event a success.

"Everybody has a job, and works to pull the whole thing together," explains Sally Baker, preview exhibition chair.

The main preview exhibition at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts opens Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, and runs through Oct. 16. A single piece of original art by each of the participating artists will be on display. Because it can sometimes be difficult to decide which artists to visit based just on the small photos provided in the tour's full-color catalog, the preview exhibition provides an in-person overview.

"You can actually see the brush strokes, the texture, and all those things that are hard to see in the catalog," Baker says. "You can see the artist's skill and technique. ... A lot of people bring their catalogs to this show, and mark off the artists whose studios they want to visit." 

The full-color catalogs are typically produced in September of each year. They are available at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and distributed throughout Northern California. An online version can be downloaded at SonomaCountyArtTrails.org

These catalogs serve as guides to Sonoma County artists throughout the year, but remember that outside of the Art Trails weekends, appointments are needed to visit artists' studios.

Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley