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Pacific Beach residents prepare for second San Diego Coastal Art Studios Tour

The entry way/gallery of artist Jane Fletcher in La Jolla.
(Photo courtesy of Jane Fletcher)

If time spent talking to artists, viewing their art studios and touring their homes and gardens sounds like the trifecta of a great day, you won’t want to miss the San Diego Coastal Art Studios Tour.

This year’s tour, set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, includes five locations — three in Pacific Beach and two in La Jolla — and features more than 30 professional artists.

The free, self-guided tour will allow visitors to see professional working artists’ studios, as well as their gardens and homes. Multiple artists, each with a different preferred medium, will be at each site.

Co-organizers of the 2022 San Diego Coastal Art Studios Tour Leah Higgins and Dot Renshaw.
(Photo courtesy of Dot Renshaw)

“We chose to have five locations instead of six this year so that everyone can easily get to all of them and not feel rushed. We want everyone to be able to talk to the artists and have a fun time,” said artist Dot Renshaw, tour co-organizer with artist Leah Higgins.

This year’s tour — the second for the group — benefits the National Cheers Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to empower women to live life vitality, free from the five primary health threats of heart disease, mental illness, cancer, osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases.

There will be no shortage of artwork on display and available for purchase, Higgins said. Categories range from realism, abstract, watercolor, oil, acrylic, photography, mixed media, plein air, pastels, jewelry, fiber arts, ceramics, wood, gourds, sculpture, stained glass, glass art, metal sculpture, mosaics and metal garden art. Sizes range from small to monumental.

“All the participants are accomplished, award-winning artists and this is an invitational art show,” Renshaw said. “We really do our homework to make sure everyone here offers quality work.”

“People are looking for more art and color in their lives, and this is a great place to find both,” Higgins added.

Each home and studio on the tour has a unique look, history and guest artists on site. Three of the homes belong to longtime Pacific Beach residents.

Renshaw and her husband, Zack, purchased their 1920s PB anchor home more than 40 years ago, due to her love for Moorish architecture, she said.

Want to go?

San Diego Coastal Art Studios Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17

Where: three homes in Pacific Beach, two in La Jolla, all within a 3-mile radius

Cost: Free, but donations accepted at each home for the National Cheers Foundation

Good to know: locations and artists’ details available starting Sept. 1 at sdcoastalartstudios.com

She added a 20-foot-tall art studio to the home, which has a window overlooking a garden filled with huge stag horn ferns, fruit trees and flowers. She consulted with Don Adams, a well-known Del Mar architect, to enlarge the house from 1,050 to 2,500 square feet and match the original style.

She also added a 21-step custom spiral staircase to the home, patterned after the one in the movie, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” and left a gap between floors to allow for ocean views.

Dot Renshaw paints from her 1920 Moorish-style home in Pacific Beach.
(Photo courtesy of Dot Renshaw)

Renshaw paints coastal art in oils, pastels and plein air. She often chooses locations others might miss, such as small trails, camping spots and neighborhood canons.

Higgins’ Pacific Beach home was purchased by her father in 1947 and was the first custom home of famed horticulturist Kate Sessions. The home was built in 1926 by well-known architect Irving Gill.

Higgins was born and raised in the house. After trading homes with her mother as an adult, she and her husband, Patrick, moved into the house in 1982. Her detached studio and renovated grounds are highlights of the property. She specializes in homes, landscapes and portraiture, but enjoys a wide variety of subjects for her work.

“We’ve spent years paying homage to Kate Sessions, maintaining the property ‘Kate’s way’ — not too prim, but keeping the nooks and crannies and the freeform style she had,” Higgins said.

The two-acre property contains numerous plants and mature trees from Sessions’ original garden, such as podocarpus trees, jacarandas, Torrey pines, rock pines, eucalyptus, palms, cedars and cypress, as well as succulents, jades and a cactus garden.

Although the final home in Pacific Beach is described as a “no-frills 1940s beach house,” visitors will be treated to the feel of a New York artist.

Approximately 40 huge paintings are displayed over the fences and in the backyard, where the artists can usually be found working. The outdoor studio is described as “alive with color.”

It is the home of two artists — Eliza Principe who uses oil paints with vivid colors and shapes, while Martin Cervantez, a retired Army artist and photographer, paints ultra colorful yet precisely constructed abstracts.

“This stop is sure to have a lot of color and a variety of styles to enjoy,” Principe said.

Two homes on this year’s tour belong to La Jolla residents.

The home of artist Dottie Stanley and her husband, Dave, is part of the La Jolla Corona Estates. Each of these houses were built with amazing views and unique architecture, Stanley said.

“My home has a Spanish flair to it, with the arched doorways, Spanish tile roof and wrought iron railings,” she said. “The house sits on a small hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, parts of the bay and the City of San Diego; views can be seen from most rooms of the house.”

Painting for more than 50 years, she also paints florals, still life, seascapes and landscapes. The house is filled with art, as the couple collects the work of many local artists, including Dottie’s own award-winning pieces.

Multiple vignettes of mythical statues adorn her garden.

“There are windows and art everywhere; it’s like going into an art museum,” Renshaw said.

The second house belongs to artist Jane Fletcher. Her 1970 TechBuilt home was built in 1970 and she has lived in the area since 1971.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, TechBuilt built more than 10,000 upscale homes from La Jolla to Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe and other areas.

The house was remodeled in the late 1990s to include the artist’s studio, where she paints and works in wood and glass.

With views inside and out, Dot Renshaw’s art studio in Pacific Beach soars 20 feet in height.
(Photo courtesy of Dot Renshaw)

Custom-made front entry doors and a four-panel carved screen in the entry greet guests. Her hand carved doors and glass works may look familiar as they are found in many local homes.

Fletcher’s paintings can be found internationally, in both homes and businesses. Her 400-square-foot entry doubles as a gallery space to reach her 300-square-foot studio.

Renshaw said guests will travel through Fletcher’s house to reach the backyard, and enjoy multi-panel carved screens, etched glass, unique touches and dozens of paintings for sale along the way.

“People love that our event is small enough to be personable, but big enough to have a wide array of studios, gardens and artists. Our community is so rich with talented people and it’s so fun to get to meet everyone,” Higgins said. “We can’t wait to do it again this year.”

Starting Sept. 1, visitors can find details for each studio location, artist and their work at sdcoastalartstudios.com. They are within a 3-mile radius of one another and organizers say street parking should not be a problem. Tours will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Studios can be seen in any order. Dogs are not allowed.

Though the tour is free, donations boxes will be set up at each location; 100 percent of every donation goes to this year’s charity, NationalCheersFoundation.org.


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