San Diego Studio Tour to feature PB gardens, homes and plenty of art
Whether you’re into artist studios, lovely gardens or creative homes full of art, the San Diego Coastal Art Studios Tour has it all. The free, self-guided tour on Sept. 18 will cover six locations, three each in Pacific Beach and La Jolla, and feature more than 30 artists.
Visitors will be able to see professional working artist’s studios, as well as their gardens and homes. The locations will also feature multiple artists set up in the gardens and studios.
The tour is the brainchild of artists Dot Renshaw, Cherry Sweig and Leah Higgins. It benefits the children’s scholarship programs at The Village Arts and Education Foundation of Spanish Village in Balboa Park.
“Because so many events have been cancelled due to COVID, people are really hungry for these types of tours,” said Higgins, a Pacific Beach resident. “Our studio tour combines art with nature’s palate, and you can see how each artist creates their magic.”
“To view art in an artist’s own venue is a rare opportunity,” Sweig said. “Each of our locations, chosen for engaging imagery, will celebrate insights into the creativity behind the works.”
Plenty of artworks will be displayed and for sale in such diverse categories as realism, abstract, watercolor, photography, mixed media, pastel, jewelry, fiber arts, ceramics, wood and gourds. Sizes range from small to monumental, the organizers said. For a complete list of participating artists, including their bios and examples of their work, visit the tour website at sdcoastalartsstudios.com.
The tour features accomplished, award-winning artists, said Higgins, whose PB studio is on the tour and is an example of what visitors can expect.
Purchased by her father in 1947, the Cubist-style home was built in 1926 by architect Irving Gill, and was Kate Session’s first custom home. Higgins was born and raised there, and after trading homes with her mother as an adult, she and her husband, Patrick, moved into the house in 1982.
The couple renovated the property, paving the long driveway and adding a pool, winding pathways, a pickle ball court and basketball court.
Higgins said they try to maintain the property in “Kate’s way” — not too manicured, but still beautiful.
The two-acre property contains many plants and mature trees from Sessions’ original garden, such as podocarpus trees, jacarandas, Torrey Pines, rock pines, eucalyptus, palms, cedars and cypress. There are also plenty of succulents, jades and a cactus garden.
Higgins uses a detached studio to teach weekly art classes. Self-taught, she paints in any medium and teaches all levels. Her art includes commissions, portraits, animals, seascapes and landscapes, she said.
Nine other artists will be showing their work in the garden and courtyard of Higgins’ house. Her son, Dannel, also an artist, may have metal art for sale.
Another spot on the tour is the home of Renshaw and her husband, Zack. Renshaw’s love for Moorish architecture drew her to purchase the 1920 home in Pacific Beach 40 years ago. She consulted Don Adams, known Del Mar architect, to help the match the original architecture and enlarge the house from 1,050 to 2,500 square feet.
“I built the second floor purposely with a four-foot gap between floors, leaving room for my barrel ceiling in the living room and resulting in views of the ocean,” Renshaw said.
Renshaw had a 21-step custom spiral staircase, patterned after the one in the movie, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?,” installed to avoid disturbing any of the cove ceiling.
She also added an 18-foot-tall art studio.
A career artist, Renshaw taught high school art classes in Escondido for 32 years, as well as taking on commercial art jobs. For 25 years, she painted the wacky 8-foot by 30-foot windows for different occasions for the Urgent Care on Garnet Street in PB.
Known for her oil and pastels, Renshaw retired early in 2005 to paint full time.
The art studio, stairway and part of the home will be open to visitors on tour days. Seven other artists will be at this location.
“My joy is for the public to see the world through artists’ eyes after this very personal experience,” Renshaw said.
Tour visitors can find locations of the homes on the website sdcoastalartstudios.com the week before the event. Maps will also be available at the Land’s End Gallery, 4984 Cass St., in Pacific Beach beginning Saturday, Sept 18 at 9 a.m. Tours begin at 10 a.m.
Studios can be seen in any order. While the tour is free, donation boxes will be set up at each location. The homes are within a 5-mile radius of each other, and organizers say street parking, shouldn’t be a problem. Dogs are not allowed. Current COVID-19 protocols will be followed.