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Cadillac Mountain: Nancy Wong shows her paintings at Creative Arts in Palo Alto for the second weekend of Silicon Valley Open Studios.

Eyes Wide Open

This year's Open Studios covers three weekends and ranges from Pacifica to Morgan Hill

By Michael S. Gant

WITH THE exception, perhaps, of Michelangelo, who really didn't want Pope Julius II dropping by and critiquing his progress on the Sistine Chapel, most artists enjoy entertaining visitors—hence the popularity of the Open Studios movement. By making their work spaces available to curious members of the public, artists get to share some of their love of the sensual and intellectual pleasures of creating art, and they introduce themselves to potential patrons sans the dealer middleman.

This year's Open Studios event (the 19th annual) for Silicon Valley and the peninsula features so many artists that it sprawls across three full weekends. The first installment, May 78, encompasses San Mateo County and the attendant coastal region, including Burlingame, Half Moon Bay, Menlo Park, Pacifica and Redwood City. Friday and Saturday, May 14 and 15, highlight, in concentrated fashion, the studios of northern Santa Clara County: Cupertino, Los Altos, Mountain View, Pal Alto, Stanford, Sunnyvale and others. The final weekend (May 2122) continues the southward trend, taking in Campbell, Los Gatos, San Jose, Santa Clara, Gilroy, Morgan Hill and a number of smaller communities along Highway 17. All told, more than 400 artists will be participating.

As always, Open Studios aims to be inclusive of media and meaning. Hence, the exceptional range of styles from the traditional oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolors to sculpture, photography, jewelry, fiber art, ceramics and all kinds of multimedia.

The first weekend conveniently dovetails with Mother's Day. To take advantage of the synergy, Open Studios is offering some special limo tours of selected studios. The tours include brunch as well as wine and snacks during the day from Wine & Roses Limousine Service and Livermore Valley Wineries. If you drive on your own, a map is essential to avoid getting hopelessly lost (artists tend to prefer out-of-the-way haunts). Detailed routes can be found in the Open Studios program, which is available free at local libraries; or check online at www.svopenstudios.org for tour information.

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From the May 4-10, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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