The Tannery Arts Center – A First Friday Destination

by Maha Taitano

As First Friday reopens in venues across Santa Cruz county this year, keep an eye out for the happenings at the Tannery Arts Center. Artist studios and galleries are reopening post pandemic and creating a First Friday experience full of fresh vibrant art and a renewed energy around the arts in Santa Cruz.

In August more than a dozen Tannery studios and galleries opened for First Friday featuring new works from new artists in multiple galleries. Gallery 125 is one of these galleries featuring two new artist’s work on exhibit, Melissa West and Starr Davis. Melissa West is a painter and printmaker who enjoys the loose expressiveness of painting and the workman-like process of carving and printing. Starr Davis is inspired by the beauty of nature in her paintings. Owners of the gallery and Open Studio artists Beth Shields and wife Lynne Todaro have their works exhibited as well. The two new artists complement the other five artists in the gallery while still giving the viewer a nice diversity of styles alongside Lynne’s sculpture and mixed media art. Beth has a new body of work inspired by the pandemic about survival, both spiritual and physical. These works are more spontaneous and loose compared to her previous work being evocative, abstract oil and acrylic on canvas. Joan Hellenthal, Chris Miroyan and Linda Fillhardt are also exhibiting.

Also showing new work is Radius Gallery. “What Remains” is the new exhibit in the gallery that shows work from nineteen glass and clay artists from all over California, including four local artists. Ann Hazels, the gallery director curates thoughtful and intellectual exhibits every time. She believes as artists it's our job to discuss one of the topics of social justice either cultural, human or environmental. This exhibit is a response to the environment and political remanence or purely the material remains after the process of creating these permanent pieces and outcomes that now live with us. This exhibit ranges from personal narrative pieces to political statements that audience members can relate to on some visceral level. All of these artists are part of The Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California.

Exhibit at Radius Gallery

Apricity Gallery has also reopened their doors. Sarah Bianco, gallery owner and artist, has changed up her exhibiting methods, now focusing on showing her work and hosting a guest artist each month. This gives the artists both space to show a solid body of work as well as a chance for collaborative pieces. This lends the gallery a lovely inviting feeling that showcases their creative collaborative process in the exhibits. Scott Rasmann, a Tannery Loft Artist, will be showing at Apricity this September. This exhibit offers the public a great opportunity to see the works and process of a local working artist who has not exhibited in some time.  His paintings use dark, bold, primary colors that are heavily textured, juxtaposed to Sarah’s light palette of pastels.  Sarah has been collecting and repurposing paint tarps used for house painting as new canvases for her abstract backgrounds that inform figurative works. Keep an eye out for her during Open Studios to see her new works that bring in more realism with the abstract backgrounds.  

Guest Artist Dana Peters at Apricity Gallery during August's First Friday.

Linda Cover’s studio, Watershed Art is currently exhibiting her new series of photographs featuring her doodles in the sand of Santa Cruz beaches titled, “Beach Collection.” Watershed is located in studio 116 inside the promenade of work studios. You cannot miss her wearable art totes and messenger bags adorning the studio window. Inside are beautiful printed “huggable” pillows just under her new body of work. These prints are Linda’s expression of “getting out... interacting with the environment and people.” Linda has always been involved with the environment and the flow of water. “Some people follow the money, I follow the water…” You can feel the flow of the water through her series. Linda starts her practice by drawing in the sand with her cane, snaps documentation of her doodles and applies any variety of photo apps to enhance and manipulate the image. These are then printed on paper using an orange oil transfer technique. 

These galleries and studios at the Tannery Arts Center are just a few of the many open during the First Friday Art Tour. Home to hundreds of working Santa Cruz creatives, the Tannery is a clear must-stop destination on your First Friday night. 

First Friday is September 3, 2021.
Visit firstfridaysantacruz.com to see the complete listing of participating venues around the county.

Tannery Arts Center
1010-1070 River St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
tanneryartscenter.org

Ready...ENGAGE!