North Coast Open Studios ‘Hot Spot’ at the Morris Graves Museum of Art

Lino block print by Patricia Sundgren Smith

Lino block print by Patricia Sundgren Smith

By Lisa Polack, For the Times-Standard

Summer is around the corner and for those who enjoy the arts in Humboldt County, that means North Coast Open Studios will soon be here.

This year the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka is proud to be a “Hot Spot” for the 17th annual North Coast Open Studios’ showcase of local artists. Being a “hot spot” means the museum will host multiple artists participating in Open Studios in its beautiful rotunda and galleries. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet and enjoy works by Julia Bednar, Paul Rickard, Sara Starr and Patricia Sundgren Smith. Admission is free.

North Coast Open Studios takes place the first two weekends in June: June 6-7 and June 13-14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day Over 150 artists from Trinidad to Rio Dell welcome the public into their studios free of charge. Visitors have a chance to meet the artists, tour their studios, see their creative process at work, and share their passion for the arts.

The event was founded in 1998 by local artists Sasha Pepper and Susan Fox, who wanted to bring the open studios grass-roots movement to Humboldt County. The event is coordinated by a volunteer steering committee and funded by sponsors and artist fees.

Jemima Harr, executive director/curator for the Humboldt Arts Council, serves on the NCOS Steering Committee and thinks the “Hot Spot” for multiple artists in one location is a great idea.

“The Arts Council is happy to partner with NCOS to bring together at the art museum artists, patrons and collectors for engaging dialogue and a glimpse into the life of the working artist,” said Harr. “Open Studios simultaneously helps artists build their mailing lists, gain new admirers, and ultimately sustain a living making art.”

Watercolor by Paul Rickard

Watercolor by Paul Rickard

Watercolorist Paul Rickard will be at the museum both weekends. On June 6 at noon, he will be doing a watercolor demonstration, and on June 13 at 2 p.m. he will take part in the Family Arts Day art exploration workshop for children.

“This is a great opportunity to meet the community and share our art informally but in person, and meet other artists, community members, children, and whoever might be interested in our work, as well as carry on the tradition of art exhibits at the Morris Graves,” said Rickard.

Patricia Sundgren Smith, a traditional printmaker, will also be at the museum both weekends. She says she has spent years trying to help people understand what she does. She will be bringing her materials to the museum and believes her tools, plates and a panel board with photos will illustrate the step-by-step process of lino-cut block print with chine collé, from the design stage to a finished piece.

“People think printmaking is reproduction, but it’s not. This is the traditional method. It’s a long process. I want to illustrate a sample of every step in the process so people will understand it and at the end say, ‘I get it.’”

She will be available for questions and will have easels with her work on display.

Sara Starr will be at the museum during the first weekend of Open Studios. She will bring tiles already bisque-fired and will paint lines to define areas on her tiles using a wax-resist technique called ‘cuerda seca,’ which began in Persia in the 1400s. During the second weekend of Open Studios she will be at the Fire Arts Center in Arcata where the tiles will be fired.

“What I really like about these events is the social side of the event,” said Starr. “I work alone a lot and I like to meet people and share what I do and get them excited about it. I also enjoy the enthusiasm of children and their questions. My parents exposed me at a young age to the arts. … I feel blessed to have this passion and something I can do for the rest of my life.”

While visiting the museum to meet Open Studios artists, visitors will also have the opportunity to take part in many of the museum’s ongoing programs and exhibitions.

On June 6 during the first weekend of Open Studios, families can take part in KEET’s Kids Club at 2 p.m., and the public can enjoy music by SquarPeg during First Saturday Night Arts Alive! from 6 to 9 p.m. The artists of the “Here and There: Topographic Conversations with Morris Graves” exhibition — a show two years in the making — will present an art talk on June 7 at 2 p.m.

During the second weekend of Open Studios on June 13 at 2 p.m., families are invited to the Second Saturday Family Arts Day monthly art exploration workshop. And June 14 during Art Talk at 2 p.m., the public can meet artists, Fawn Atencio and Catherine Chauvin from the “Where the Land and Water Always Meet” exhibition.

Start your summer by attending North Coast Open Studios during the first two weekends in June at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka — a true Hot Spot of artists, family events, live music and exhibitions!

Lisa Polack is the Membership Coordinator for the Humboldt Arts Council, located in the Morris Graves Museum of Art, 636 F Street in Eureka. She can be reached at (707) 442-0278, ext. 206. For more information, visit The Museum is open noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults; $2 for seniors and students; free for HAC members and children under 17.