For over 40 years, East Bay Open Studios has provided an excellent opportunity for art lovers, collectors, and just the plain nosy who maybe want to see inside their neighbor's spaces.
This year, more than 200 Bay Area artists are included in its catalogue of self-guided tours that can take you all over the East Bay—Berkeley, Pinole, El Cerrito, Livermore, Oakland, and beyond. Everything kicks off on Friday, June 2, at Oakland's historic 16th Street train station with a party and an exhibition of some 100 artists (the soiree is invite-only, but all you have to do is join EBOS to get on the list).
Artist spaces will be open from 11am to 6pm the following two weekends (June 10-11 and June 17-18), and activities at each venue will be determined by the artist. You might encounter light snacks and wine, demos, live music, and opportunities to chat with painters, collagists, and sculptors one-on-one. To get you started, here are nine artists who caught our fancy.
Happy Together, Betsy Kendall
Visitors to painter Betsy Kendall's studio will find new landscapes, canvases of live model paintings, and her latest oil series featuring her quizzical pet birds —the canvases are super tiny to highlight their small bodies in an outsized world. "My earliest inspiration came from looking at living things. My mother showed me clever little plants, pretty rocks, goldfish in our garden in Japan," the artist recounts. "I try to capture the bliss of living." // 408 West Richmond Ave., Point Richmond
Fence Line, Gary Kukori
Digital photographer Gary Kukori works, surprisingly, are black-and-white, despite the push for intense color usually seen in digital works. "A photograph is just a representation of how I see the world," Kukori says. "Even though I specialize in black and white images, I don't see the world in black and white. But I do see the world in terms of shapes, lines, shadows, light and contrast, and these are all critical elements of a black and white composition." // The Crucible, 1260 7th St., Oakland
Invitation, John Osgood
Don't miss the opportunity to catch muralist John Osgood's live demos during the East Bay Open Studios tours. His abstract works feature multiple layers of acrylic and aerosol paints on large canvases and panels. Extended viewing reveals details to draw you in. "My paintings may reveal shapes of birds, flowers, figures, words and other found objects intended to give the viewer a feeling of familiarity the longer they look at the piece," says Osgood. "I'm usually looking up birds to see how wings look, how long beaks extend, or how talons clench." // 140 Esther Ln., Danville
GJ Smith, Ryan Lalonde
Illustrator, artist and designer Ryan Lalonde will be demoing his collage processes at his space at The Shed, plus visitors will be able to tour his garden space to view other works al fresco. "Color theory is integral to my creations, how people view color," says Lalonde. "My inspirations come from stories, too. Natural disasters and their intersection with people and fate really moves me to create works that tell the story in some way." // The Shed Studio, 2911 Windsor Dr., Alameda
Love from Narratives (series), Jody Medich
Painter Jody Medich will be showing works from two of her series, "Narratives," which explores feminity via surrealist oil paintings and prints, and "The Stories They Told Me." Medich explains, "These pencil drawings and prints portray, in a similar surrealist fashion, the stories of my maternal Hungarian refugee family and their experiences as part of the underground resistance in WWI, WWII, and Soviet Hungary. My family shared these stories with me as a child to prepare me for future wars or disasters. But because of my age, they left out the most troubling details making it all the more scary in my mind." // Warehouse 416, 416 26th St., Oakland
Beneath Silence and The Waves, Susan Scott
Photographer Susan Scott exhibition includes framed and unframed works that draw upon humankind's connection to the natural world. "My work is an allegorical exploration of existential, psychological, and spiritual ideas," the artist explains. "I'm particularly interested in exploring the human relationship with nature on a psychological level, including the notion that we think of nature as separate from ourselves, as something to be owned, used up or conquered."// Gray Loft gallery, 2889 Ford St., Oakland
Jade Sea Worm, Katie McCann
Inspired by Victorian-era fairy painters, artist Katie McCann's current work follows her #100dayproject—creating a collage a day for 100 days that she's been previewing on Instagram. Look for whimsical faces painted atop the covers and pages of antique books emulating a mixture of 19th-century science and fancy. "The intricate and detailed collages that I create are a reflection of a strange world where curious and beautiful creatures exist in a quiet landscape. Each collage represents a page from an imaginary book full of chimeras, hybrids, zoophytes and fairies," say McCann. // Uptown Body & Fender, 410 26th St, Oakland
Comic Book Art, Robin Holstein
Comix fans should drop by illustrator Robin Holstein's space where she'll be showing her work plus merch such as art book, prints, stickers, and bookmarks for sale. During the day, Holstein is an animator for a gaming company, at night she's a comic book artist. "I deal with stories. The theme and intent changes with each story. I tend to gravitate to the hero's journey where the action of the quest changes the hero's thought and way of thinking by the end of a tale and that is what I'm currently working on." // 12 Ford St., Oakland
Sculpture, Luiz Hornischer
Head to Berkeley to check out Luiz Hornischer's multiple sculptures and wall hangings that using found pieces of wood in his Flow, Nature and Energy series. "I enjoy the specific challenge of working with reclaimed wood," says Hornischer. "Old wood has scratches, cracks, knots and other imperfections that are similar to real life. Every piece of wood is like a person, with its unique character, challenges and strengths." // 760 Cragmont Ave. Berkeley