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Eco Rich

AE_plateTwo artists embrace the green movement during Encore Weekend of Open Studios

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any ‘greener,’ now we’ve got a ‘green’ Open Studios. As the countywide annual art offering kicks off its encore weekend, GT decided to take a look at two artists who are not only creating stellar art, but also doing so with a green consciousness. Meet a few of our ‘green’ female artists at this year’s Open Studios: There’s the 29-year-old painter Sarah Bianco, and the 45-year-old maker of functional art, Polly Goldman. The two women are changing the concept that creating art can be wasteful.

Bianco resides at The Tannery, the new live/work space studios and apartments off of River Street near downtown Santa Cruz. She’s one of the lucky ones who were able to snag an enviable piece of real estate. Keep in mind, though, that her pursuits to live at The Tannery were hard earned. Bianco and her husband camped out in a parking lot just to hand in their rental application. From there, the pieces fell together, and they were able to move in. They have a two-bedroom space where they live, and where Bianco creates her painting artwork, and the two also run their painting business, which offers house painting, faux indoor painting, and more.

This is her first year participating in Open Studios, and she’s one of the 12 artists from The Tannery who are partaking in the respected event. During encore weekend of Oct. 17 and 18, her studio at 1040 River St., No. 113, will feature a sweeping display of her paintings—all of which have a ‘green’ background. Many of them are made on recycled canvases that she used previously as paint samples in her other business. Likewise, much of her paint has been given to her as gifts, and some of her supplies have even been garnered by way of flea markets, and even one chance encounter with a dumpster.

“One time, my neighbor at my old place was going through some painter crisis,” Bianco says. He put all his brushes, easels and paints in the dumpster. So, I kind of jumped in there. … I also like to find little objects or images that I like. … And everything else in my life is green: I eat organic and local, recycle, use non-toxic paints, reuse rather than throw stuff away, especially when I see other painters dumping huge amounts of paint and throwing rollers away after one use. … I think [being green] is not just for the environment’s sake and moral sake, but to also not be participating in the pollution we have. Things are so much more interesting and are already around and could be good subject matter for art in general.”

Thinking similarly is Goldman, who creates what she calls “functional art.” This is her second time doing Open Studios, and she will also be participating in the encore weekend. Goldman creates such items as lamps, lampshades, teapots, soaps and other house and table items. Infusing a ‘green’ sentiment into her work is no small feat. She distills her own essential oils for the soaps, uses solar power for all of her artistic energy needs, uses wood that has already fallen, for her projects, purchases handmade paper that’s created by indigenous communities, as well as makes her own paper (for lamp shades), uses organic cotton, uses a solar-powered kiln and includes compact fluorescent light bulbs in each lamp that she sells.

For Goldman, being a green artist is really a huge part of her life. “I would like to make everything myself in life, so I’m constantly thinking about what am I using and could I be making this myself? … Being a green artist lets you feel much better about what you’re doing. I’m putting out this product, it will last forever, so I better feel really good about it—it takes up space and resources. … Another main thing is that if you can tell people that’s what you’re doing, there’s an educational component. People think about green when they think about food, or cleaning products, but there isn’t that much education about art or crafts [being green].

Besides getting a lesson in green art, and seeing the work of a green artist, Goldman adds that visiting her studio during Encore Weekend really serves the public: “A lot of people like simple, functional work that’s made in an ethically responsible way, that’s why I want people to see my work. It seems like people have an urge for that right now, a longing for something with ethics. Coming to my studio is not all about mass market stuff, but about connections, community, and the planet.”


The Open Studios Encore Weekend is Oct. 17-18. Studios are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit Sarah Bianco’s studio at The Tannery, 1040 River St., No. 113, Santa Cruz, 588-3643. Visit Polly Goldman’s studio at 519 Pine St., Santa Cruz, 212-2804.
Comments (1)Add Comment
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written by Polly Goldman, October 17, 2009
Thank you for the lovely article, Christa. I have a couple of points I would like to add:
-- all the artists participating in Open Studios have a green component, in that they are producing art to be sold and enjoyed by our local community. At the very least, this local focus decreases shipping costs and puts more environmental accountability on the producers, since we are all interested in having transparency in our production processes, and we know that environmental sensitivities are important to the Santa Cruz market.
-- the path to greenness differs among different types of artists. For me, switching to renewable power was a top priority since energy use comprises the largest portion of my environmental footprint as a potter. For other artists, a focus on materials or on artistic message might be a higher priority.
--and last, for anyone who can't make it to my open studio, my pottery and soaps are also available year-round at Greenspace, 1122 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz.

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