.The Art of ‘Summer Dreaming’

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Anyone yearning for an early summer night’s dream sort of feeling here in Marin need look no further than the upcoming Summer Dreaming exhibition from Art Works Downtown in San Rafael.

This exhibition runs from now to July 20, making it the perfect early summer outing for those art lovers out there who want to celebrate the coming summer in style.

The Summer Dreaming exhibit features a collection of works from local visual artists, all of whom were carefully curated to speak to the ethereal qualities of summertime. And although the connecting thread that ties the Summer Dreaming works together is the shared experience of summer’s more effervescent attributes, each piece is unique and ultimately deep (but only as much as the viewer wades, naturally).

In its variety, the Summer Dreaming exhibition showcases how the exact same long days and balmy nights of summertime are experienced, felt and expressed so very differently from person to person, artist to artist and viewer to viewer.

“For the Summer Dreaming exhibition, we wanted to aim for something a little more light-hearted with this thread of something subconscious, but still contemplative,” explained Art Works Downtown’s program manager, Stan Gibbs. “When choosing a theme for the open call exhibitions, we try to be mindful of the different facilities and mediums our local artists are working in to try to give them the most opportunity to exhibit with us.”

“There are a number of ways we find the themes for the open call for these kinds of exhibits,” Gibbs continued. “We have a small committee that tries to sort of corral the open-call exhibitions and artists along a consistent theme while allowing them to interpret it in their own way and also be able to compare the theme and see if their artwork will fit with it. Then our jurors choose which ones work the best before they put a bow on the whole thing and present [the exhibits] like a themed gift.”

The jurors for Art Works Downtown’s Summer Dreaming exhibition are Hakki Serhat Cacekli and Jessica Silverman Gallery. Together, these artistic forces gathered the summer’s most impactful yet playful collection of local art and artists to showcase, show off and hopefully inspire those who come out to appreciate the arts.

“Also, something I didn’t quite expect with this light exhibit theme is that the jurors chose pieces with a deeper sense of contemplation to them,” said Gibbs. “I think [Summer Dreaming] has these sincere and contemplative undertones across the entire collection for guests to consider while perusing all the different artworks when they visit.”

Those interested in coming out to see the exhibition may visit during Art Works Downtown’s hours of operation (Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6pm). Alongside the exhibition itself, the Summer Dreaming exhibit also has two associated receptions and Art Walks, both of which will take place from 5 to 8pm. The opening reception Art Walk is set for June 14, and the closing reception and Art walk on July 12.

Summer Dreaming is one of four annual open-call exhibitions put on by Art Works Downtown, making it just one tip of a very large, local arts-supporting nonprofit organization iceberg.

“Art Works Downtown manages the Art Walks in San Rafael,” Gibbs explained. “We started the program and manage it for the different venues downtown, and people will participate if they’re interested, and they’ll have visual art exhibits or poetry readings…It’s free, and I always like to tell people that it makes for a fabulous date night.”

San Rafael’s 2nd Friday Art Walks are a fun, free-to-the-public event put on by Art Works Downtown. As one may expect, these Art Walks offer an opportunity for locals and visitors alike to stroll down the streets of San Rafael, visit the Art Works Downtown galleries, enjoy studio tours and connect with the art, arts venues and artists of San Rafael, Marin and the Bay Area.

“The variety is my favorite part of these exhibitions,” said Gibbs. “One of the things I encourage guests to do when they visit is to listen with their eyes…and take in the variety of interpretations with an openness to hearing the artist through their work.”

The artists set to exhibit their work in the Summer Dreaming exhibition are Lucy Arnold, Eileen Begley, Alexandra Bowes, Corey Caballero, Ruy Carpenter, Licita Fernández, Jonathan Gaber, Elizabeth Gleason, Liz Godbey, Audrey Herrera, Christopher Keating, Connie Kirk, Viviana Leija-Sysak, Ethan McKeague, Barbara Morris, Gail Morrison, Patricia Oji, Lynne Prather, Nicolette Reinsmith, Xioneida Ruiz, Lorin Santaloci, Dobee Snowber and Katherine Warinner.

Art Works Downtown is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that was founded in 1996 and has served the local community for nearly 30 years. Its mission is to support art and artists through as many avenues as possible. The organization’s building is 130 years old and 40,000 square feet; its inside features four galleries, 27 art studios, a membership program for artists, a jewelers’ guild, a frame shop, a ceramics center and even 17 apartments offering affordable housing.

Alongside these amenities, Art Works Downtown also offers the Marin County community avenues to pursue more education and engagement with the arts through rotating exhibitions, events and even classes and outreach programs.

“One of the things I admire about the Marin arts and culture scene is its ongoing persistence…especially the ongoing persistence of our local artists, who are always so focused on creating art and growing and working on it,” Gibbs said.

“We’re always rotating our exhibits and featuring all these amazing Bay Area artists,” concluded Gibbs. “If you come out to view an exhibit, you’ll get a good idea of our local community’s creative endeavors, as well as the societal items they are processing. I think art and these Art Walks are just a great way to think about and engage with your fellow humans in a different type of language—to speak to you and inspire you in a way no other medium, apart from art, can.”

Given the ephemeral nature of summer, the Summer Dreaming exhibition and art itself, organizations such as Art Works Downtown are integral to the community—after all, the best part of being human is being able to appreciate the perspective of those around us.

Those interested in attending the Summer Dreaming exhibit may visit the Art Works Downtown gallery, located at 1325-1337 Fourth St. in San Rafael. Admission to Art Works Downtown and its exhibitions is entirely free. To contact Art Works Downtown, email [email protected] or call 415.451.8119. To learn more, visit the website at artworksdowntown.org.

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