Event: Art at the Source Studio Tour


Visiting Artists’ Studios:  Art at the Source

It’s that time of year again, the first two weeks of June, and the Art at the Source catalogue of participating artists’ studios came in the mail. After circling favorites and looking at the map, it was time to hop in the car and set out on the road to aesthetic adventure.

The natural beauty of the area seems to bring out the creative spirit in people, both drawing established artists and creating new ones. The hills and valleys of Sonoma County are dotted with people bursting with creativity. This is the perfect opportunity to discover their genius at work.


Now if you’ve never been on Art at the Source (AATS) or other art studio tours here in Sonoma County, there are a few things you’ve got to know.

Stop by the gallery to see the preview show or get your hands on a catalog at a local art store (then keep your eye out for bright yellow signs).

  1. Bring cold water and a hat.
  2. Pack a lunch or commit to stopping at a deli, etc. for a quick bite. Although artists provide snacks, you should stop at some point. Because as much as you might think you will only go to one or two studios, the day has a way of getting away from you. Be prepared to spend the whole day in the experience, because there is always one more fabulous find just around the next bend in the road.

Why you should go:

  • the art
  • the people
  • the beautiful scenery to explore
  • the garden and house tours
  • it’s a great way to check out the area if you are thinking of moving
  • if you live here you will see neighbors and friends
  • it’s a great way to have fun with friends
  • you can learn about new art processes
  • and of course, the opportunity to buy unique gifts and support the local arts

 There are two art tours in Sonoma County; AATS (by the SebastopolCenter for the Arts—primarily west of 101) and ArtTrails (by the Arts Council of Sonoma County), which is juried but includes the entire county. Both are good events, but I enjoy the democratic feeling of the spring event, ArtTrails, where emerging artists show side by side with master craftsmen. Years ago, I participated in Art At the Source. I began by helping other members of my family set up for their shows, and eventually I displayed with a friend and on my own. It was a valuable experience to meet people, talk about technique, and get positive feedback. It’s a great feeling to know your work speaks to other people and has found a place in someone’s home. I would highly recommend the experience if you live in the area and create art.

Some things we found:

  • eggs for sale
  • a hedgehog with a crown
  • beautiful views
  • paintings of tractors in an old Victorian house
  • a very helpful canine greeter
  • jewelry made of woven gold
  • two children’s book illustrators
  • inspiring backyard garden retreats
  • a working farm
  • and a few artists that offered us really beautiful stories of their processes

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The glass artist:

Jean Salatino and her husband, Steven Gandolfo at studio #43 do amazing things with glass. Their organic shapes and edible colors are unique. Their technique of grinding glass into flowing nature-inspired forms has garnered recognition from both museums and collectors. While studying at Pilchuck (Dale Chihuly’s famed art glass compound in the Northwest), she was told by a master glassblower that she should never blow glass again. But, he added, she offered something no one else did; her skill at grinding. Although she was crestfallen at that moment, she has become a world-class glass artist through grinding, and she and her husband create art together that is truly, truly beautiful.

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The sculptor:

We visited a sculptor, René Dayan-Whitehead at studio #44a, who studied in Italy with masters. She showed us how she creates forms using floral foam, and makes truly delicious flowing forms from solid hunks of alabaster and marble. Showing a generous heart, in addition to her time, she gave samples of the rough material. She writes beautiful descriptions of the passions which inspired each tactile piece. For example: “The rite of passage, the path that makes the traveler stronger, burns away what is extraneous, refines what is valued and important, as steel is tempered.” The stones glow with the warmth of the sun and the passion of the artist.

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The jeweler:

We met a gold weaver, Marie Scarpa, at studio #47b. She recalled how in college, within a span of a week, two of her instructors gave her the advice of a creative lifetime. Her weaving instructor said she should work with metal and her sculpting instructor said she should start weaving. The two came together, and today she weaves truly spectacular art from precious metals that echo the color and cut of faceted gems.

We also were impressed with the art and homes of photographers Peter M. and Zac Krohn at studio #35, who create luminous floral still lifes reminiscent of Dutch masters on metal and the beautiful botanical encaustic designs by Lorraine Chapman at studio #98. Both of these artists not only created beautiful art, but demonstrated an artful way of living at their beautiful home studios.

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In general, every artist we met was happy to talk about their process and share their own creative window into the world. These are just a few of this year’s highlights. I heartily encourage you to grab a map and find your own treasures at Art at the Source this weekend (June 8/9).


by Nadja Masura