Sierra Art Trails combines the foothills and art. What’s not to love?
A few weeks ago I found myself at Stellar Gallery in Oakhurst at the preview exhibition for the 2019 edition of Sierra Art Trails. It was a bustling affair: a potluck-style spread of food and drink; lots of chatter and laughter; a large inflatable bear propped up in the corner that slowly lost air through the evening. The dress code was decidedly casual, the beer was cheap and the brownies were really good. It felt like a mountain gathering. At one point I looked around at the friendly people crowded into the gallery and along the sidewalk and thought: This is a real community.
You can enjoy this same community, albeit it in a much more spread-out fashion, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 4-6) throughout the Yosemite foothills. From Mariposa to Yosemite Lakes, more than a dozen communities in Eastern Madera and Mariposa counties are part of the fun. Artists and artisans work in a wide range of media including painting, photography, jewelry, sculpture, fiber arts, woodcarving, ceramics, glass, and more. The weather is usually hint-of-fall perfect, the skies blue and the winding mountain roads fun to drive.
I think it’s charming.
I talked to artists William Neill and Kris Kessey at the preview exhibit. They talk a little about Sierra Art Trails and give previews of their work. You can also see me with my Keeper of the Flame award, which Sierra Art Trails kindly bestowed upon me. To watch the entire October episode of “The Munro Review on CMAC,” click here.
How does Sierra Art Trails work?
Your Sierra Art Trails catalog ($20) serves as a ticket for two. You can buy a catalog at a number of locations, including Mullins Editions in Clovis, and A Sense of Place gallery and Allard’s art store in Fresno. The Art Trails website offers a complete list. If you’re doing this totally spur of the moment and don’t want to plan ahead, your best bet is to head to Stellar Gallery in Oakhurst (40982 Hwy 41), where you can pick up a catalog and view the preview exhibition.
You pick your own trail. The catalog is nicely organized in terms of geography. You can pick Coarsegold/Yosemite Lakes Park, Oakhurst/North Fork and Mariposa/Ahwahnee.
You set your own pace. Lots of people come from out of town (from all over the state, in fact) and make it a multi-day outing. There’s no way you could do all three trails in one days, so pick and choose.
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Many of the trail stops feature multiple artists. If you plan things out, you can actually see a lot in just a few hours.
But don’t neglect the solo out-of-the-way venues. Some of my best Art Trails moments have been when I drove an extra five or 10 miles to a home out in the boonies. If if it’s remote enough, you might end up as the only guest at the time and get some one-on-one time with the artist.
Be curious. Talk to the artists. Ask about inspiration, technique, materials, obstacles, etc. Find out something about the artist’s backstory. Can you find an emotional connection to the art? If not, that’s OK. But it’s always good to be appreciative about the time, talent and enthusiasm that artists put into their work.
Finally, take your checkbook. Artists have to eat. But browsers are welcome, too.