.Best of Marin 2018: Arts & Culture

From world-class art festivals, to movie theaters that invite filmmakers to talk about their work, to music venues that welcome big-name performers, Marin has it all when it comes to Arts & Culture. Marin residents can often be overheard saying that they don’t go into San Francisco much. One wonders if that’s really “because of the traffic.” Most likely, it’s because there’s really no reason to leave when, on any given week, you can catch a play, a ballet or your favorite band just a stone’s throw away.

Plein Air

For more than 60 years, the Sausalito Art Festival has attracted art collectors, aficionados and enthusiasts alike for a Labor Day weekend extravaganza that has earned it two titles in Marin: Best Art Festival and Best Outdoor Art Event. In fact, the festival is considered one of the most prestigious art events in the country, featuring fine art in every medium from more than 250 artists, and pairing that art with gourmet food, sumptuous wines, music, children’s entertainment and more.

Novato ceramic sculptor Barbara Sebastian, as well as artists from around the country, such as Portland, Michigan glass artist Mark Lewanski and Texas artist George H. Jones, have displayed their work. The festival has also boasted concerts from headlining artists like Pablo Cruise, War, Foghat and local bands like Rusty String Express and Charged Particles.

While little is known about 2018’s lineup, the festival’s timing in late summer and location on the Sausalito waterfront is more than enough reason to mark the event on your calendar.—Charlie Swanson



For more than a decade, San Francisco’s Petty Theft, Marin’s Best Cover Band, has been runnin’ down the dream of embodying one of American music’s most iconic bands, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This tribute act started learning to fly way back in 2003, and over the years they’ve gone into the great wide open with live performances all over the West Coast.

Made up of veteran musicians like lead singer and guitarist Dan Durkin, who also founded Marin County bands Frontline and East of Eden, and bassist Django Bayless of late ’80s Marin bands like Sapphire, Petty Theft is a favorite for all—from the musical refugee to the American girl.

Though the world lost Tom Petty last year, Petty Theft has not had a change of heart about playing his music, and they won’t back down from representing the songwriter. The band has several shows in the Bay Area coming in May.—C.S.


Animal Lovers

When counterculture icon Wavy Gravy opened the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969 by declaring, “What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000,” he was signaling to the world that the event was going to be based on caring, compassion and fellowship. Those ideals are exactly what drive the staff at Marin Humane, the county’s independent animal shelter, so it’s no surprise that the group adopts Woodstock’s moniker for their annual fundraiser, Woofstock, voted Marin’s Best Charity Event.

Last year’s attendees enjoyed music by Bay Area yacht rockers Mustache Harbor, with beer and wine for the adults, the ever-popular Kid’s Zone for the young ones and local merchants and animal rescue groups on hand to help loving families find a new friend. Keep an eye out for 2018’s Woofstock, and get information about adopting a pet at marinhumane.org.—C.S.

171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato; 415.883.4621.


Fish Fiesta

January in the Marin fishing world means herring, and every January at Sausalito Community Boating Center’s Cass Gidley Marina, the Sausalito Herring Celebration offers the Best Seafood Served Straight From the Water. In addition to a seaworthy feast prepared by several local restaurants—including contributions last year from Davey Jones Deli and Angelino Restaurant—the celebration always features live music, entertainment and docents on hand for tours and information. This past year’s celebration also included a screening of the award-winning film Sonic Sea, about the damage being done in our oceans from noise-polluting tankers and cruise ships, with an expert panel to weigh in. The fundraising event also helped the boating center continue with much-needed renovations this winter.—C.S.

Cass Gidley Marina, 1001 Bridgeway Blvd., #541, Sausalito; sausalitocommunityboating.org.


Creative Roots

A tradition entering its 35th year in 2019, the American Indian Art Show, where one can find the Best Display of Indigenous Art, is recognized as the West Coast’s largest celebration of antique works created by Native American populations from the pre-colonial era. Every February, the Marin Civic Center welcomes more than 100 dealers and artists to show and sell an array of culturally rich works including jewelry, textiles, woven baskets, pottery and beadwork, in addition to paintings, photography and literary works. Last February, Marin’s American Indian Art Show was held on consecutive weekends with the San Francisco Tribal & Textile Art Show to create the San Francisco Tribal Art Week. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a first-time observer, this ever-growing show is unparalleled.—C.S.

Marin Civic Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael; 415.473.6800.


Sound Bites

West Marin’s community radio station KWMR serves the region in more ways than one. And this year, in fact, one of its radio hosts, Rick Clark, was crowned Best Media Personality: TV, Radio, Print. While the radio regularly represents and informs the local scene over the air, KWMR is inviting the public to the Best Storytelling Paired With Cuisine at the 5th annual Eat My Heart Out Supper Club on Saturday, April 28.

Held in the historic Peace Barn in Bolinas, the dinner party marries live presentations with several courses of dinner that are directly inspired by the stories. This year, the supper club welcomes acclaimed actor David Strathairn to the table as the event’s featured storyteller. Strathairn is best known for his Oscar-nominated performance as iconic newsman Edward R. Murrow in 2005’s Good Night, and Good Luck, and his resonating voice recently portrayed President Roosevelt in Darkest Hour.

Fellow storytellers Mark Buell, Vivien Straus and others will join Strathairn, and chef Matthew Elias of The Bodega returns for a fourth year to turn the stories into an imaginative meal. This fundraiser for KWMR regularly sells out, so snag tickets quickly, and eat your heart out.—C.S.

70 Olema Bolinas Rd., Bolinas; kwmr.org.

Full List of Best of Marin 2018 Arts & Culture Winners

Best Art Festival

Sausalito Art Festival

Best Art Gallery

Art Works Downtown

Best Art Studio


Best Ballet Company

Marin Ballet

Best Band

Danny Click & The Hell Yeahs!

Best Charity Event

Woofstock, Marin Humane

Best Cover Band

Petty Theft

Best Dance Studio


Best Festival

Fairfax Festival

Best Film Festival

Mill Valley Film Festival

Best Indie Filmmaker

Gary Yost

Best Media Personality: TV, Radio, Print

Rick Clark, KWMR

Best Movie Theater

Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center

Best Museum

Marin Museum of Contemporary Art

Best Music Festival

Fairfax Festival

Best Music Venue

Sweetwater Music Hall

Best Outdoor Art Event

Sausalito Art Festival

Best Outdoor Music Festival

Fairfax Festival

Best Outdoor Music Venue

Rancho Nicasio Bar & Restaurant

Best Performing Arts Company

Marin Theatre Company

Best Performing Dance Company


Best Place to Dance

Terrapin Crossroads

Best Theater Company

Marin Theatre Company

Best Videographer

Gary Yost

Pacific Sun
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