In late 2019, a group of local artists and patrons started planning for an open studios tour spotlighting the artists, makers and original creations of Morgan Hill and South County. Working with the city’s Library, Culture and Arts Commission, they even gained a green light from officials at City Hall to begin organizing the event that winter.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic began, putting a halt to almost every kind of event or public gathering.
But that didn’t stop the Morgan Hill Open Studio committee from planning for a date when pandemic restrictions might be lifted, according to Suman Ganapathy, a member of the committee and an LCAC commissioner. Throughout 2020, the 11-member committee continued to meet regularly on Zoom.
Restrictions on gathering were lifted earlier this year, and now the Morgan Hill Open Studio event is scheduled for 10am to 4pm Nov. 6-7, and will feature artists not only from Morgan Hill, but also from Gilroy, San Martin and south San Jose.
“For me, it’s always been a dream to make Morgan Hill the bastion of artists for South County,” Ganapathy said. “I love art and I love to see talented artists showcase their work.”
Organizers think the Nov. 6-7 open studio tour is the first such event centered on Morgan Hill in more than a decade. Other local open studio tours in recent years have focused on Santa Clara County or Silicon Valley. These regions include Morgan Hill, but it has proven difficult to draw attendees to visit South County studios during those events.
The Morgan Hill Open Studio tour will allow art enthusiasts to visit artists at their own home studios, or at select centralized public venues—such as the Community and Cultural Center and local participating wineries—where multiple artists can set up displays and demonstrations of their crafts.
Registration is open for artists to participate in the Nov. 6-7 tour, whose website is located at tinyurl.com/c2r42zet. Ganapathy said more than 50 artists in South County have already expressed initial interest. The event is free to spectators and art shoppers.
Artists and makers of every medium—oil painting, watercolor, sculpting, ceramics, pottery, wood working, photography and more—are based in South County, and are expected to be well represented at the open studio tour.
Cindy Blanton is one of the Morgan Hill Open Studio committee members. A ceramic sculptor, Blanton is eager to invite art lovers to her southwest Morgan Hill home studio Nov. 6-7 to share her work and knowledge. And she wants to help other artists do the same.
“It’s about introducing people to art and artists. I think people enjoy art more in the home if they know the artist,” Blanton said. “It engages the public in the art and the process of making the art.”
Also on the Morgan Hill Open Studio committee are artists Sophie Lastra (potter/sculptor), Marie Cloughesy (potter), Scott Downs (Valle del Sur art guild), Robert Guynn, Ellie Honl, volunteer Sherrie Wren and LCAC members Emily Borchers and Paul Lake. Pamala Meador, a member of the El Toro Culture & Arts committee and a Morgan Hill Community Foundation board member, is also on the open studio committee.
Lastra said she has wanted to put together an open studio event in Morgan Hill or South County ever since before she graduated from Gavilan College in 2016. She met and befriended many talented artists in the college’s arts programs, and has sought some way to help them gain more public and commercial exposure.
“After getting out of school, I realized there are a lot of makers and artists in south Santa Clara County,” Lastra said.
She and some of her Gavilan artist friends helped organize a San Benito open studio in 2019, and it was such a success that they wanted to do something similar in Morgan Hill and the surrounding area.
“It’s super exciting,” Lastra said of the upcoming Morgan Hill Open Studio tour. “I am thrilled to have the kind of support we have.”
For more information about the Nov. 6-7 Morgan Hill Open Studio, or to register as an artist, visit tinyurl.com/c2r42zet.