It’s December 1st and the official season of giving has begun. According to television commercials, we should be giving diamonds and luxury cars. Just who are those ads meant for?
Here in the village of Benicia, we have options thate are more realistic, creative and simply better. While we don’t have a giant mall with a Macy’s or Best Buy, we do have independent shops and businesses that offer gifts that are not made in China. If you walk the entire length of First Street, you’ll find things like candles, books, ukuleles, candy, fashion, plants, jewelry, gourmet foods and fancy dog toys.
If you want to shop really local, this is the weekend to do it. Benicia Arsenal Artists Open Studios your best opportunity to visit Benicia’s resident artists in their studios. The Arsenal is home to dozens of artist studios and more than 35 artists will be open. This is one of only two weekends a year when studios are open to the public. The other Open Studios happens in early May.
In conjunction Open Studios, Arts Benicia is hosting it’s first Pop Up Holiday Art Market in it’s gallery in the heart of the Arsenal District. With 14 artists participating, the gallery has a wide variety of options. The Pop Up Market will we open for a second weekend on December 8 and 9.
Between the two events, you can of course find paintings, but also jewelry, photographs, prints, sculpture, art glass, antiques, mosaics, clothing, tutus, dolls, hats, scarves, fingerless gloves and succulent gardens. What you won’t find is cookie-cutter plastic doo-dads, musical ties or “As Seen On TV” products.
If you like the kitchy Steampunk genre, visit Sharon Payne Bolton’s studio on Jackson Street for amazing shadow boxes, handmade books and treasures. If edgy metal pendants are more your style, don’t miss Mike Kendall’s studio on Jackson. For tiny romantic paintings, check out Mernie Buchanan’s Faux Louve series at Arts Benicia.
The best part is, once you park, you have access to dozen’s of studios on Tyler and Jackson streets, all within walking distance. To add to the festive atmosphere, Arts Benicia is hosting free art activities for families between 12:00-4:00 PM on December 1 & 2. Families will have the opportunity to create their own holiday cards and go on a signature treasure hunt through the Arsenal Artists’ Open Studios.
The Arsenal art community has been buzzing with activity in preparation. Everybody in the neighborhood knows each other, so simply ask for directions if you are looking for something specific. So put on your walking shoes, your rain coat and sense of adventure and get to the Arsenal this weekend.
Art studios are open from 10am to 5pm this weekend only, so don’t get discouraged by the rain. Arts Benicia's Pop Up Holiday Art Market is open from 10am to 5pm this weekend and next. Studios will be offering beverages and treats for visitors.