Critic’s choice: Spend a weekend with Sierra Art Trails

Event: The 16th annual Sierra Art Trails, an open studio event in the Yosemite foothills.

Dates: Runs for three days: Friday, Oct. 5; Saturday, Oct. 6; and Sunday, Oct. 7.

Format: Your 2018 Sierra Art Trails catalog, which you buy for $20, acts as your admission ticket for two people to visit any of the venues over the three-day event. Many of the sites are in artists’ homes and studios. Most feature multiple artists. The venues vary widely, ranging from paintings propped up in living rooms to fancy studio spaces with breathtaking views. There are also sites in galleries and retail establishments. To fully experience Art Trails, plan on a couple of days as you explore Mariposa, Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Yosemite Lakes, and lots of rugged foothill territory in between.

A shout-out to Carolyn Hartling, who was selected for this year’s Sierra Art Trails catalog cover:

The ambiance: Casual, relaxed, leisurely.


Where to buy catalogs: Here’s an updated list (scroll down).

Focus on: Elizabeth Saltos, a recent artist transplant from the Bay Area to Oakhurst and a first-time participant in Art Trails. After becoming well known as a metal worker and sculptor in the world of public art, she has reconnected to etching, a medium she explored in college:

My imagery at this time is inspired by my re-location to the Yosemite area of California. In the beginning of my career my images were geometric forms which evolved from a visual alphabet which I had created. Today, more than thirty years later, I am creating from the vast canvas of the mountains around me.

Saltos’ current works on paper remind me in some ways of elaborate calligraphic alphabets with a stately — almost Renaissance — flair, but with an earthy, organic feel.

She’s also a charming person with a zest for art and life, as I learned when she was a guest on the October episode of “The Munro Review.” I’m sure she’ll be a great Art Trails host. You can watch her interview here (starts at the 3:30 mark):

Why I recommend: Sierra Art Trails has become an institution. It doesn’t hurt that it comes in early October, when the weather is often perfect and the bright, crisp tang of early fall is in the air. It’s a treat and a privilege to get to interact with the artists and other patrons on the tour, and I’ve found over the years that just about everyone is happy. And who wouldn’t be, making art in such beautiful places?

Recommendations: Artists, feel free to tell readers a little about your Art Trails stop for 2018. Do it in the comments below.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • I hope you will come visit my home studio, Site #64. From my catalog listing:

    “Neill is a landscape photographer world-renowned for his fine art photographs shown in many galleries and museums. William has been specializing in Yosemite photographs for 40 years. Come see his new retrospective book, annual inventory sale of photographs, posters, and other gift items. Recipient of the Ansel Adams Award.

    Signed copies of Neill’s new retrospective book will be available at Site #64.


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