The Art of the Toy: Wild, Whimsical, and Magical, the latest exhibition at Arts Benicia, explores the toy as a work of art, the toy as a vehicle for the imagination. Whether created for play or as a reference to playthings, toys can embody our own personas. They can be filled with nostalgia, fun, scary, ridiculous, or thought provoking.
Benicia's Artistic Spirit
Benicia boasts one of the most active and influential art communities in the Bay Area. Hundreds of artists live and work in studios throughout the city, creating world-class objets d'art.
Why do so many artists find inspiration here?
“A desire to become a full-time studio artist, in a community of other studio artists, is why I chose Benicia. I had spent the first 20 years of my creative life working in isolation in another community before coming here. The 1991 Benicia artist community was a rag-tag lot, but it spoiled me for any other form of existence. My artist friends, family and neighbors make my spirit soar. This is the center of my universe.”
– Artist Mike Kendall
Benicia's resident artists share their talents via an eclectic mix of media and styles, including glass art, prints, sculpture, ceramics, photographs, paintings and even hand-screened wallpaper. The city is particularly known for its art glass studios, where you can often see nationally acclaimed glass artists at work.
Almost 100 artists have opted to locate their studios in an enclave known as The Arsenal, a former military reservation that now exudes a bohemian feel, given the depth and quality of creative expression that goes on there.
Helping give the artistic community a focus and collective voice is Arts Benicia, a nonprofit art center located in The Arsenal. Arts Benicia maintains a world-class gallery, offers excellent classes and art experiences for all ages, sponsors exhibitions in locations throughout Benicia, and coordinates many events, including artists' Open Studios every May.
The Benicia Arts and Culture Commission serves to ensure that arts and culture are integral to our community's quality of life, economic vitality, and central identity. They cooperate with council and public and private organizations to create and promote art and cultural programs and activities within Benicia.
Benicia also enjoys a vibrant performing arts community, with twice-yearly, professional-quality productions by the highly regarded Benicia Old Town Theatre Group and frequent performances by locally and regionally known musicians at venues such as the First Street Café and The Rellik Tavern.
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