Marin Open Studios has connected art lovers with local art makers each spring for nearly 30 years with self-guided tours of artist’s studios throughout the county.
Last year, the tours stopped in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, though Marin Open Studios continued supporting local artists with virtual shows and events online.
This spring, the tours are back on, as Marin Open Studios welcomes visitors to a special limited-run gallery, featuring work by many participating MOS artists, at 325 Town Center in Corte Madera from April 20 to May 11. Artists will then open their studios to the public over two weekends, May 1–2 and 8–9.
“It’s been like riding a bucking bronco since last March,” says Marin Open Studios co-founder and Sausalito-based artist Kay Carlson. “The community really rallied to help us. An absolutely essential ingredient to our success is our Philanthropist Angel, Peggy Haas. She began supporting Marin Open Studios as a founder 28 years ago, and Peggy continues to be our major supporter today.”
Carlson adds that other keys to the MOS longevity include the volunteer artists who take on the roles of Board members. This year, exhibiting artists Laura Culver, Jennifer Fearon, Joe Grenn and Shiva Pakdel brought their expertise to assist other Board members and help steer Marin Open Studios through the pandemic.
“We worked all-year-round to keep artists in front of the public as much as possible,” Carlson says.
Marin Open Studios also continued to support emerging and diverse artists, as it has through partnerships like the one with Canal Alliance mural artists, as well as with the new MC Arts Gallery in Marin City, directed by Oshalla Marcus, that helps bring scholarships and attention to their artists.
Marin Open Studios also partnered with renowned online auction platform Bidsquare for the first time this year to give the public a chance to bid on artwork from afar. That online auction features more than 150 works of art and is online now through April 24.
With the good news that restrictions are lifting in Marin County as Covid cases diminish and vaccines abound, Marin Open Studios is able to move forward with in-person events this year, beginning with the Town Center gallery show opening for socially distant visitors on April 20.
At the gallery, art enthusiasts will find the free, full-color Marin Open Studios Tour Guide, which is also available online and in selected stores and offices throughout Marin. The guide will highlight the 180 Marin County artists participating in this year’s open studios tours, including artists who are open only by appointment.
“The way that artists lead their lives is with creativity, and so planning their business ventures this year had to involve high creativity,” Carlson says. “Also, there are artists who have done a body of work in response to Covid, so it may be an interesting year to see art.”