Marin Open Studios is always a fun event. I love the experience of visiting other artist’s studios and getting a glimpse into their creative process. I enjoy looking at their art and I always marvel at the tremendous variety of creative expression. I also really like talking to artists about their methods of working. I get ideas and I get inspired by these exchanges. I also feel more a part of a community of creative people, which is something I sometimes lose sight of when I’m working alone in my studio. Then there is the added perk of grazing on the treats that many of the artist’s studios offer to guests!
The heart of Marin Open Studios in Sausalito is the Industrial Center Building on Harbor Drive (near Mollie Stones Market), informally known as “The ICB.” It is a great three-story barn of a building that was erected during the heyday of ship building at Marinship in Sausalito during the Second World War. Intended as a temporary structure, it has endured into the next century as a trove of artist’s studios which extend over all three floors. There is also a small group-show gallery that has rotating exhibits.
Marin Open Studios Sampler:
I visited a number of studios but one of the ones that stood out was Mimi Chen Ting’s . Her art was professionally displayed and beautifully lit in her airy, gallery-like studio. The subtle colors and textures of her monotypes created with oil-based inks were a particular joy. The artist maintains two studios, one at the ICB and one in Taos, New Mexico. She works on un-stretched canvases, simply pinning them to the wall when they are in progress. She transports them rolled between her studios.
I was also singularly impressed by the abstract acrylic works of Brian Huber. Huber’s large paintings are intricate low relief designs created with sheets of dried acrylic paint that that he cuts and arranges in swirling patterns and then fills with a limited palette of contrasting colors. Some are square, some are circular. All of them make you long to own them so you can run your fingers over the raised textures.
Sue Averell’s fanciful cityscapes are also highly textured and begging to be touched. Averell begins with a sketch over a base of bright orange. After painting the forms of the city buildings, some real and some invented, she adds layers of heavy matte gel and clear tar gel acrylic mediums to attain a lusciously rich texture and glossy finish that makes her work irresistible. I was particularly struck by a large portrait of the Art Deco Chrysler building painted with metallic colors.
Hines’ studio intrigued me by his mixture of highly representational work and totally abstract work. I like to work on both ends of the spectrum as well, and it was nice to see that I’m not alone. Hines’ abstractions are quite dreamy, filled with color and light, while his realism relies on the old master technique of layering glazes of color to build up extremely three dimensional images. I loved Hines’ video of his abstract painting process which I just found on You Tube
Finally, walking along Marinship Way I happened on the studio of Patricia Araujo . Araujo has a whole series of paintings inspired by the World’s Fair that was held in San Francisco on Treasure Island from 1939-40. Most striking is her rainbow-hued head of Pacifica inspired by Ralph Stackpole’s monumental 81 foot high statue that was a centerpiece of the Fair. If you are curious about the World’s Fair on Treasure Island, check out the amazing color video of it on You Tube. You’ll feel like you are there!
I know I just scratched the surface of the works on display during Marin Open Studios, but I came away with a sense of a day well spent and a great appreciation for the generosity of artists who take the time to open their studios and share their work with the public during these two spring weekend.