Benicia Art Weekend: A Vibrant Celebration of Creativity

True to its reputation as an arts destination, Benicia will draw art lovers to town for a celebration of art during the first weekend in May. On May 4th and 5th between 10:00am and 5:00pm, over 50 artists in the Benicia Arsenal District will open their studios to welcome the public.  At the same time, eleven downtown galleries and art studios will roll out the red carpet for visitors to see the work of their artist members, watch art demonstrations, and participate in other events planned especially for the weekend. The event represents a grand collaboration of the studio artists’ annual “Open Studios” and the downtown galleries’ summer “Art Walks,” two events that have coincided in past years, but are this year presented as a city-wide festival. By focusing efforts on a single weekend, the local artists will work together to maximize marketing efforts and attendance. Music, food vendors, restaurant specials, and outdoor events are also planned.

Collaboration

“We are thrilled about our collaboration with the Arsenal artists and downtown galleries to present a wonderfully diverse art weekend experience for attendees,” said Vickie Marchand, a co-owner of NY2CA Gallery and a coordinator for the event. “This partnership will not only showcase the vibrant creativity of local and Bay Area artists but also feature a rotating schedule of talented street musicians, adding to the dynamic atmosphere of the event.”

Events

Among various weekend events on First Street, NY2CA Gallery will be featuring artist talks by Paula Boas, a mixed media painter, and Mary Oros, concrete sculptor. Happy Life Pottery will be featuring an exhibition of sculpture by co-owner Amy Stellato. The O’Rourke Gallery at the Benicia Public Library will feature “Our Culture,” an exhibition showcasing the talent of Benicia and Liberty High School students. The HQ Gallery is planning events to celebrate the grand opening of its new, expanded gallery space. 

Susan Marcus Sachs stands with her painting

Susan Marcus Sachs

Mary Oros

Mary Oros

While the downtown galleries have been holding art walks for many years, Open Studios has likewise been a long-time feature of the Benicia Arsenal Artists and Arts Benicia, the non-profit visual arts organization that hosted the event for over 25 years before Covid. For the last three years, the Benicia Arsenal Artists hosted and produced the event, which has been focused on studios in the Arsenal area, in various buildings that were part of the old U.S. Army Arsenal, along Tyler Street in the 940 Building, the 991 Building, Storehouse 88, on Lincoln, Hayes, and Grant Streets and at Arts Benicia’s Printmaking Studio on Tyler Street and the Commanding Officer’s Quarters on Commandant’s Lane. This year, maps will include both Arsenal and First Street locations.

Artists

Participating artists include abstract, figurative and landscape painters, printmakers, sculptors and ceramicists, photographers, glass and mixed media artists, and more. Visitors will meet both new downtown gallery members as well as newcomers to the changing Arsenal studio environment, including Johanna Regan, Robert Anke, Angela White, and Deirdre Shibano. Guest artists include Cecile McNulty, Loretta Boyce, and Sarah Wahl. 

Susan Marcus Sachs, a coordinator for this year’s event, will be offering a collage demonstration in her studio at 940 Tyler Street. “We have 50 artists participating in the Arsenal this year, the most since COVID,” she said. “I think that coordinating with the First Street Galleries is going to create more excitement for the art loving public. I’m also pleased that we will honor Randall Sexton, who was an important member of our community and who did a lot of work to support this event in past years. His widow, Carol Neilson Sexton, will host visitors in his studio during the event.”

Angela White stands in front of her paintings

Angela White

Amy Stellato with her sculpture

Amy Stellato

Community

Benicia has long been known as an artist community. The Arsenal, especially, has been attracting artists for decades because of large, affordable studio spaces as well as proximity to art colleges and universities and major exhibition galleries stretching from San Francisco to Sacramento. The downtown galleries have been founded by local artists and include many Arsenal artists as members. Gallery membership also extends throughout the Bay Area, expanding the reputation of Benicia throughout the region and California.

For more information about Benicia Art Weekend, visit beniciaarsenalartists.com,  visitbenicia.org/benicia-art-weekend and artsbenicia.org.