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Nov 28th
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The Route Of All Easels

ae studioGT’s guide to the 2012 Open Studios Art Tour

For the first three weekends in October, hundreds of artists around Santa Cruz County will open their studio doors to anyone interested in viewing their artwork up close and get a behind-the-scenes look at their work spaces. The Open Studios Art Tour is self-guided, and can be plotted out according to each participant’s interests using a guide/calendar which can be purchased for $20 at locations throughout the county. To help you navigate the event, we've handpicked eight varied, must-see artists.

South County

ae NickChaoNick Chao >
Local photographer Nick Chao specializes in creating highly stylized portraits of models posing in nature, often wearing extreme, eye-catching fashion. Many of his photos have a dramatic and eerie quality, in the same vein of a Grimms' fairy tale. Sometimes his subjects have their faces painted a ghostly, skull-white with dashes of reds and blacks. Chao, a self-taught photographer, has a knack for drawing out vibrant colors, earthy tones and almost palpable textures in his images.

ae BlaiseRosenthal< Blaise Rosenthal
Pro snowboarder-turned-artist Blaise Rosenthal paints abstract, often colorful, and outwardly expanding geometric shapes. Instead of focusing on snow-covered landscapes, Rosenthal aims to portray the emotional experience of barreling down a mountainside. He uses heavily layered acrylics and charcoal to produce fractal designs with free-running drips of paint that complement the technical structure of his work.

ae CarolinaMcCallCarolina McCall >
Using vivid violets, deep blues and tropical oranges, figurative oil painter Carolina McCall captures the spirit and culture of Central American indigenous communities, where she has spent much of her time for the last 22 years. In her most recent work, she paints scenes based on the daily lives of Maya people—from open air markets, to priests practicing spiritual rituals, to ordinary men and women dressed in brightly colored, traditional garb.

ae DonMcPherson2< Don McPherson
A fixture in the Santa Cruz art scene, longtime watercolor painter Don McPherson paints a wide variety of local subjects and evinces an affinity for candid moments in his work, whether it’s a father pulling a splinter from his daughter's finger or a couple of elderly men playing cards over glasses of wine. McPherson graduated from San Jose State University with a Fine Arts degree and has lived, worked and painted locally ever since. He painted the posters for the 2003 Wharf to Wharf Race and the 2006 Santa Cruz County Fair. He was also named to the Santa Cruz Art League's 2004 “Winners Circle.”

North County

ae RussellBrutscheRussell Brutsche >
First and foremost, Russell Brutsche's paintings reflect his infatuation with the American West—trains coursing across dusk-lit plains and horses idling in the foreground of expansive landscapes. But beyond just capturing natural beauty on canvas, his majestic scenes include subtle juxtapositions, suffused by his passion for shedding light on socio-cultural ironies and injustices in the world.

ae JoshuaCripps< Joshua Cripps
Joshua Cripps' dramatic landscape photography tells stories about connecting with the most beautiful and farthest reaches of the planet, from mountains and oceans to deserts and canyons. His images are often composed of naturally occurring patterns, such as the curvature of smooth boulders submerged in a crystal clear lake, the ripples of sand on a desert dune, or jagged mountains reflected perfectly in a body of water at their base. And he has a real talent for capturing rare moments of almost surreal lighting.

ae MelissaWestMelissa West >
Melissa West uses linoleum block figures to make monoprints which depict a variety of subjects, including images from fairy tales, animals, and scenes from Santa Cruz. Exploring the fine line between comfort and menace, West aims to convey the tension and the magic that exists in a space.

ae LaurenJunker< Lauren Junker
When junk is transformed into art, and then that art is turned into something functional, everyone wins. Lauren Junker, creator of the Santa Cruz-based company Totally Tubular Design, collects old bicycle inner tubes and tires and sews them into stylish, eco-friendly purses and wallets. A friend of Junker's who makes RV covers taught her how to use an industrial sewing machine so she could make her first rubber tube bag, and the rest is history. 

The 2012 Open Studios Art Tour takes place during the first three weekends in October from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Studios in South County will be open Oct. 6-7. Studios in North County will be open Oct. 13-14. And 255 artists from North and South County will participate in an encore weekend, Oct. 20-21. To purchase your calendar/guide for $20, visit, or call 475-9600.

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