Art-Full Mendocino: Visit Studios, Tour Galleries, Take a Course

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Beautiful views and charming shops may be Mendocino's mainstays, but the city is almost as famous for its art and crafts. On the Pacific coast 3 1/2 hours north of San Francisco, excellent galleries offer one-of-a-kind works, two artists' studios give glimpses of work in progress, and courses can teach you the fine points of watercolor, how to throw a pot, or how to weave a tapestry. Visit this month for the breathtaking spectacle of the headlands painted with wildflowers--and to savor the town before summer fog and crowds roll in.

Eight outstanding galleries

Long jam-packed with art galleries, Mendocino has established itself as a prestigious art community, boasting an impressive exchange with acclaimed galleries in the Bay Area. While you'll find some galleries with the standard seascapes and driftwood seagulls, several show sophisticated works not only by locals, but also by artists working throughout the country. Here, we list galleries--seven in town, one just south--that deal primarily in unique works of art. All welcome browsers. Free maps showing shops, galleries, and restaurants are available at most of them. Telephone area code is 707. Gallery Fair, Ukiah and Kasten streets; 937-5121. Specializes in handcrafted furniture and unusual fine jewelry. Open 10:30 to 4:30 daily. Gallery Glendeven, 8221 N. State Highway 1, Little River (1 1/2 miles south of town); 937-0083. This new gallery, next to be Glendeven Inn, features handcrafted furniture, abstract paintings, hangings of embossed and quilted paper. Artists are local or from the Pacific Northwest. Open 10 to 5 daily except Wednesdays. Gallery Mendocino, 45062 Ukiah Street; 937-0214. This tiny gallery has wood- and linoleum-block prints by Californian Emmy Lou Packard, protege of Diego Rivera. Most work is by local artists. Open 9:30 to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays. Highlight Gallery, 45052 Main Street; 937-3132. This three-story building holds an impressive collection of handcrafted furniture, turned-wood objects, paintings, and handwoven textiles by artists nationwide. An exhibit of furniture by local woodworkers runs May 18 through June 3. Open 10 to 5 daily. Mayhew Wildlife Gallery, 400 Kasten Street; 937-0453. Etchings, watercolors, and sculpture are devoted exclusively to wildlife and marine subjects. Open 10:30 to 5 daily. Mendocino Art Center Showcase, 560 Main Street, 937-2829; and Mendocino Art Center Gallery, 45200 Little Lake Street, 937-5818. Both galleries hold rotating exhibits of ceramics, sculpture, textiles, and paintings by local and international artists. …