Local artists opened their studios in Richmond to the public this weekend for the first time in many years, providing a rare opportunity for a look at their work and the space they create it in.
The Open Studio event was organized by the Visual Artists of Richmond, an all-volunteer project of Intersection For The Arts.
On Saturday, artists located in or near the North and East neighborhood welcomed visitors who were eager to see and discuss local art. Showing their most recent work this weekend were Lauren Ari, Sylvia Brallier, Brian Conery, Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, Deb Gorman, and Kaci Smith.
In January, VAR artists were invited to reflect on the state of the arts in Richmond at a meeting led by a group of consultants.
"We attended that meeting and noticed that artists who had lived here for a long time and newcomers alike mentioned they did not have enough support. There were several conversations after the meeting, and out of those conversations came the inspiration to become our own advocates and work on ways to continue communicating to create spaces for artists to support each other," the group explains on its website.
Following that meeting, the group began to envision and discuss resurrecting Open Studios in Richmond and made it one of their goals.
The group said its mission is to "have a well-known, diverse, inclusive community of artists supporting each other by organizing opportunities to celebrate and promote our work, share resources, and support each other's art practices."
Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez is a visual artist based in Richmond. Her interest began at a magnet school for the arts and the Art Students League of San Juan. She earned a BFA at the University of Puerto Rico, where she studied printmaking and painted murals. Garcia-Gonzalez is known through her work with public art, her portraits of undocumented immigrants, and her landscapes of the East Bay, which have earned awards and are part of many private collections.
Garcia-Gonzales was delighted to see so many people stopping in to visit her in the studio on Saturday.
"These open studios are free art events that take place outside a gallery setting, and this is one of the reasons they are so popular with the residents of Richmond and nearby cities. They came out in full force to see and buy our work. I want to thank them for their support of local artists," said Garcia-Gonzales.
Also hosting an Open Studio was Brian Conery, a Richmond-based mixed media artist who works in painting, drawing, sculpture, found objects, and photography. A long-time resident of Richmond, Conery holds a BA in painting from Cal State Chico and additionally studied illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
While there are many other communities around the bay hosting Open Studios, the small, personal feel of the Richmond art spaces offers something special.
"There are various other Open Studios taking place in the East Bay. Some encompass several a whole region, and others are city-specific. Emeryville and Benicia's open studios, for example, bring in visitors from surrounding cities and showcase local art and artists. VAR's Open Studios - while small- has the potential to grow, given the number of visual artists who reside or work in Richmond," Garcia-Gonzalez said.
For more information about Visual Artists of Richmond, click here: http://visualartistsofrichmond.org
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