Local artists have their fair share of challenges when it comes to exhibiting and selling work – the cost of living in Santa Cruz and the fragile state of the economy are no small matters to contend with. Luckily, this area also has an empowered community working ‘round the clock to expand the production and promotion of art in Santa Cruz and surrounding Counties. Thanks to the creative vision of the Regional Artisans Association (RAA), the diverse work being created by local artists can be effectively and affordably displayed and sold in public gallery/retail spaces.
The RAA is a non-profit arts organization working to increase the arts and support artists in Santa Cruz County, Monterey County, and San Benito County. The RAA assembles groups of local artists who work together to run large-scale, self-sustaining exhibition and sales venues in non-traditional gallery locations – designed to become like permanent, indoor art and craft festivals. Located in the Capitola Mall next to Target, Art of Santa Cruz is part gallery, part retail store representing the RAA’s new, non-profit model for spaces that specifically cater to Santa Cruz County artists and their work.
The 4000 sq. ft. venue exhibits and sells the eclectic work of over 100 local professional artists in and around Santa Cruz County. The RAA has a dedicated board of directors and members (led by president Dawn Teall), who meet regularly to keep the mission, projects and stores running smoothly. With the previous Scotts Valley Artisans location now closed, the staff focuses on assisting customers, facilitating participating artists, and merchandising artwork at Art of Santa Cruz and its sister venue Monterey Bay Artisans, in the American Tin Cannery.
Every corner of Art of Santa Cruz exhibits artwork for sale, accompanied by artist profile information. The walls are covered in watercolors, oil on canvas, acrylic, photography, mosaics, metal, fabric, and wood work. The floor space is occupied by display cases and tables featuring jewelry, ceramics, clothing, hats, blankets, body and bath products, furniture, journals, greeting cards, cutting boards, chocolate, lamp work, glass, collage, gourds, dolls, pillows, purses, yard art, and bird houses. Even the ceiling exhibits hanging mobiles.
The staff rotate items in the window and front of shop displays monthly, to coincide with holidays, and so all artists and the vast variety of mediums are respectfully highlighted. There are many options for customers interested in investing in local art, including a range of prices, registries, gift certificates, wish lists, and layaways.
In addition to the venues, RAA also has additional programming and promotion for local artists, including SantaCruzArtists.com, Mural-in-a-Day, Art in Public Places, Spotlight Youth Conservatory, Third Fridays in the Capitola Mall, and First Saturdays at the American Tin Cannery.
On Saturday, June 18th, Art of Santa Cruz will host an Artist Showcase in celebration of Father’s day (1pm- 4pm). This is one of many events the RAA hopes to continue, to bring the community together for special occasions, and to generate further opportunities for people to connect with Santa Cruz artists and experience many forms of creativity.
You can find out more about visiting Art of Santa Cruz, becoming a participating artist, and the benefits of membership with the RAA by visiting their website.