There are a lot of great ways to get involved in the thriving arts community in the Bay Area. If you are new to the world of art, or a casual fan, here are some free and low-cost events that will entertain you as well as allow you to meet local artists and see their work. Art walks and Open Studio events are both great ways to see a variety of painting, sculpture, drawing and multimedia work from a mix of artists all in the same place. Often times, you can meet the artist and talk to him or her about the work. And in the case of Open Studios, you can see their studios and workspaces up close and personal.

San Rafael Art Walk
4th St between G St and Lincoln Ave
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 451-8119

Dates: Second Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

An Art Walk is usually hosted by a community with a schedule of open studios and galleries as well as other community activities. It’s a great way to get to know a town better as well as its artists, and perhaps enjoy some music or a drink at one of the venues. San Rafael hosts an Art Walk on the second Friday of each month. Each month’s event features new venues as well as select receptions hosted for new artists’ work. The 2nd Fridays Art Walk is held in downtown San Rafael along Fourth Street.

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Sausalito Art Walk
Caledonia St
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 251-0833

Dates: Second Wednesday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sausalito hosts an art walk on the second Wednesday of each month in the summer (May through October). Come out to see over 20 local merchants showcasing their talent. Attendees are given the opportunity to buy pieces right from the source of the artistic creation. Prices range significantly so you should be able to find something that fits both your style and budget. As well as artists and their work, the walk features entertainment for children, performers and live music.

Open Studios
Sonoma Open Studios
Napa Open Studios

Many North Bay communities host an annual Open Studios program where artists open their studios and workrooms to visitors. Art aficionados are able to meet the artists, talk to them about their work and witness the creative process more intimately. In Sonoma County, this year’s Open Studios are scheduled for the weekends of October 13-14 and 20-21. In Napa County, it is scheduled for the weekend of September 22-23. Marin’s Open Studios were held last May and will be held again in May 2013. For more information about the exhibiting artists, locations and special events, visit each area’s Open Studios website.

Mill Valley Art Walk
Throckmorton Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 721-1856

Dates: First Tuesday of each month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In Mill Valley, an art walk is held on the first Tuesday of each month with artists’ work being displayed at galleries and other participating businesses for the rest of each month. In addition, a reception is held at many of the participating galleries for new displays. Check out each walk’s lineup online to see if some of your favorite local talent is participating.

Calistoga Art Walk
Washington St and Lincoln Ave
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-2278

Dates: September 6, 2012 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Calistoga also sponsors an art walk. The First Thursday Art Walk is held only three times a year but features several artist receptions as well as a continuing display of their work through the next few months. Check out each art walk’s entertainment online to decide which reception makes the most sense for you. Get personal with the artists and ask them about their work.

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Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade. Her work can be found at