SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — With beautiful beaches and lush redwood tree forests, Santa Cruz has long been home to a vibrant community of artists.

Artists’ studios are dotted all over the county, and for the first time since the pandemic began, artists have reopened their studios this month for a beloved event, Open Studios Art Tour.

The public is invited to meet more than 100 artists and see how their creations are made this weekend.

“Open Studios is a wonderful event and we have so many talented artists in our community,” oil painter Janet Ferraro said.

Janet Ferraro has a passion for painting horses. (KRON)

The annual event has connected art lovers with artists for over three decades. But the pandemic put it on pause for two years.

While socially isolating, artists were busy drawing, painting, sculpting, and metal working. Artists told KRON4 that they are excited to finally be able to show off everything they have worked on and reconnect with their community.

See a full list of locations and artists participating in the 2021 Open Studios Art Tour

Ferraro has loved horses ever since she was a little girl. She uses a technique called “knife painting” to carve texture into her oil paintings and give galloping horses impressions of movement.

Ferraro said a highlight for opening up her studio is seeing the joy on girls’ faces when they are surrounded by dozens of paintings of their favorite animal.

Sam Wenger is a Santa Cruz native who learned from his father how to handcraft lotus chairs out of steel and leather.

Sam and Daniel Wenger of Wenger Designs build chairs by hand out of leather and steel. (KRON)

“My father designs the chairs back in the 60s and 70s. He wanted to go with a simplistic, ergonomic design,” Sam Wenger said.

For Sam Wenger, molding steal and cutting leather is an old-school craft that he is proud to continue inside his family’s home garage.

“Personally, the pandemic freed up a lot of time for focusing energy and effort on the process of creating the chairs and the art. But it also took away any sort of connect to the community. All trade shows, art shows, events were canceled for the past 18 months. So it’s really nice to have this opportunity to connect with the public,” Sam Wenger said.

Like Wenger, Ferraro said she spent a lot more time at home with family during the pandemic. Her passion for painting helped her focus and stay positive during tough times.

“I found it was really important to try to rise above and be in a positive place as much as possible,” Ferraro said.