Hunters Point Shipyard Artists open their studios 

The nation’s largest art colony welcomes the public into its digs this weekend, giving locals a chance to meet artists in their creative spaces and buy artwork at the source.

The occasion is the Hunters Point Shipyard Artists’ Spring Open Studios celebration. Free festivities take place at the shipyard’s seven art buildings and at studios at Islais Creek a few miles away.

More than 130 artists, from painters to photographers to ceramicists, are participating in the event at the 500-acre site in southeast San Francisco, which was deommissioned as a U.S. Navy base in 1974. (In 1983, artists began renting space there. It now contains about 250 artist studios.)

Photographer and environmentalist Sharon Beals (Building 116, No. 9) is known for her images of bird nests, including some exhibited at the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s a way to invite people who would never pick up a pair of binoculars into the world of birds,” says Beals, who documents nests with high-resolution equipment and sets the images against black backgrounds, resulting in portraits of unique nests.

At Open Studios, Beals is displaying pictures of nests of threatened species, which she photographed at the Smithsonian Institution. She also is showing images of watersheds.

Ron Moultrie Saunders (Building 101, No. 2419), too, is a photographer, but he works without a camera. He creates autobiographical photograms, a process inspired by the “rayograms” of surrealist artist Man Ray and by traditions of early photography.

Plants are a significant subject for Saunders, who cites his background in landscape architecture as an inspiration.

“I saw in the plant world the full spectrum of life and death,” says Saunders, a cofounder of 3.9 Art Collective, a group of locally based black artists. This weekend, he is showing work from “The Secret Lives of Plants,” featuring images of flora.

Painter and teacher Tesia Blackburn (Building 101, No. 2315) creates abstract pictures layered with luminous color.

Her inspirations include Wassily Kandinsky (“my go-to guy”).

At Open Studios, Blackburn is exhibiting paintings from “Wonderland,” her series suggesting summertime, beaches, carnivals and being a kid, as well as works from a new series “Cosmolicious.” Describing the joy she derives from selling her art at events such as Open Studios, she says, “It is like little bits of me going out in the world.”


Shipyard Artists Spring Open Studios

Where: Hunters Point Shipyard, Innes Avenue and Donahue Street, S.F.

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 25-26

Admission: Free


Note: The event also features artists at Islais Creek Studios, 1 Rankin St., S.F.

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Anita Katz

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