Now in its 34th year, Silicon Valley Open Studios (SVOS) had to reimagine its annual art studio event due to Covid-19.
In the past, one could drive to an artists’ house or other outdoor and indoor locations to see their work on display. Due to the global pandemic, SVOS has gone to a virtual format for its yearly showcase event.
“Everyone was caught off-guard in figuring out what to do, but we decided we didn’t want to just skip the event,” SVOS Executive Director Steve Toll said in an interview with San Jose Inside. “The response has been fantastic so far.”
Indeed, with 150-plus artists and over 600 exhibits for view at shop.svos.org/, the virtual art show promises to provide an experience like never before. The event started runs through Nov. 30. For the first time in the art show’s history, SVOS will donate part of the proceeds to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, one of the largest food banks in the nation.
“Since we were reinventing ourselves anyway, we decided we didn’t want to make it just about the artists—because everyone is hurting due to Covid-19,” Toll said. “What better way to benefit a local nonprofit that was in need of help because their expenses to provide food for people have doubled since the pandemic started? ... By doing this we’re hopeful we will make a difference for them.”
Artwork from a variety of mediums are on display, including painting, watercolor, photography, mixed media, sculpture, ceramics, furniture, woodwork, printmaking, glass mosaic, jewelry wearables and digital art. Los Altos Hills artist Anne DeGheest specializes in the latter, capturing human emotions and representing them with different animals.
One of DeGheest’s iconic pieces, Giraffes Love, was drawn on her iPad and printed, which gives the work a sense of depth that a normal painting doesn’t have.
“Anne is doing a newer type of art she created on a tablet before printing it the way you would a photo,” Toll said. “That is something that didn’t exist even 15 years ago.”
When DeGheest first exhibited Giraffes Love at a couple of art shows last year, most people thought it was a drawing because of its heightened sense of depth. “A lot of people had never seen something like it before,” she said.
The founder and managing director of Health Tech Capital, a group of private investors dedicated to funding and mentoring health tech startups, DeGheest first started exhibiting her work in 2019. When her mom, Monique, died in 2003, DeGheest used art as a healing tool, which turned into a serious side hobby.
“Art literally liberated the right side of my brain,” she said.
A self-taught artist, DeGheest started with a stencil, watercolor and soft pastel before transitioning to digital art. From that medium, DeGheest has been able to create stories filled with emotion.
“A visual drawing can uplift people, which is my objective,” she said. “That’s why I use warm colors to try to tell a story such as Giraffes Love.”
Even though it took SVOS a while to get used to the notion of a virtual art fair, it does offer some benefits that an in-person show can’t replicate.
“It’s a really attractive alternative even when we come back to a regular open studio when people drive around and see exhibits in person,” Toll said. “With the virtual format, visitors get a much broader sense of the artist by going to the website because there are only so any artists you can see when driving around in the course of a day or two. Doing this virtually provides an incredible variety of artwork for people to take in.”
SVOS is one of the most popular art events in the Bay Area, acting as an incubator for new and emerging artists through education while connecting them to the greater art community. Since there tends to be an emotional connection upon seeing art up close, DeGheest hopes visitors will feel comfortable with buying the artists’ work online.
Toll is confident whether one sees a piece in person or online, the art will sell itself.
“Art appeals to something in people that is often hard to put into words,” he said. “There is often an emotional non-verbal component in how it communicates to us in a different way than words do. And that’s what makes it special.”