Benicia has no shortage of artists, who draw people to town and add to the community’s vibrancy. The annual Arts Benicia Artist Open Studios gives people a chance to be part of the scene, to enter the artists’ creative spaces and talk to them in their own environments. Now in its 23rd year, this year’s event takes place May 6-7.

Arts Benicia is ground zero, organizing the popular event that draws an estimated 5,000 from around the Bay Area. “This is our big advocacy time for arts in the community,” said Mary Shaw, Arts Benicia exhibitions and programs manager. “We don’t get anything out of this. It’s not to make money. It’s to provide marketing for our community, to help with tourism and to help artists make contact with people and sell their work.”

Scores of artists open their doors in the Lower Arsenal, and many are within walking distance of the Arts Benicia Gallery. On First Street, visitors will find glass blowing studios, art venues and galleries, such as Gallerie Renee Marie, The Rellik, Gallery 621, Benicia Plein Gallery, Once Upon a Canvas and Lindsay Art Glass, among others. Artists in other parts of town may open their doors, as well.

This year’s Open Studios is special, as Arts Benicia is celebrating its 30th year. A retrospective on the art of Mike Kendall will occupy the gallery space. Kendall does sculptures, paintings, relief work and installations. He has dedicated space and time to other artists and promotes Benicia’s artist community, Shaw said. “He just gives so much.” Called Off The Wall, Kendall’s show will occupy the gallery April 8-May 7.

Arthur Sterne in his Benicia art studio

Peg Jackson

Arthur Sterne in his studio

Sharon Payne Bolton in her Benicia art studio

Peg Jackson

Sharon Payne Bolton in her studio

Jeffrey Tover in his Benicia art studio

Peg Jackson

Jeffrey Tover in his studio

This year, Arts Benicia will not stage its usual Open Studios Preview show, consisting of a sample of participating artists’ work. Instead, a full color catalogue with a map and image for each artist will be offered. The weekend’s festivities are all part of the effort to help artists and art lovers connect. “How wonderful it is to go into artists’ studios, see their work and talk to them. It can lead to lots of other things. People might take a class or buy a piece of work. It’s the start of a relationship,” Shaw said.

  • Benicia Artists Open Studios—Free admission
  • Scores of Benicia artists open their doors to the public

May 6-7, 10am to 5pm both days

  • Visitors should start at the Arts Benicia Gallery in the Lower Arsenal at 991 Tyler St. #114 to grab a map and catalog of participating artists
  • SolTrans will operate a shuttle both days, transporting visitors between the Lower Arsenal and First Street.