With eight months of pandemic experience at this point, artists are no strangers to virtual art fairs via computer screen.

Silicon Valley Open Studios, originally scheduled for May, converted to a virtual format because of the pandemic. The event, which runs until Nov. 30, is a benefit for Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. Each purchase made through the website donates at least 15 percent of the artists’ proceeds to the food bank.

The website features 130 Bay Area artists and more than 600 works of art. The media include a vast array of watercolor, photography, ceramics, printmaking, woodwork, digital art, jewelry and much more. To learn more about SVOS and Second Harvest, visit shop.svos.org.

For more than 30 years, SVOS has been one of the largest art events in the Bay Area. Open studios typically provide valuable networking and business opportunities, as anyone interested in any type of artistic work could browse artists’ galleries and homes around the Bay Area to find the perfect piece. The pandemic has erased that option, meaning many art organizations are shifting to online galleries and shows, prompting a different experience for both buyer and seller.

Three Coastside artists, Gabriele Cressman and Barbara Greensweig, of Montara, and Maureen Grimm, of Half Moon Bay, are participating this year. All have participated in the event’s traditional format before.

Greensweig, who specializes in oil paintings of Coastside images and landscapes, is glad for the partnership with SVOS and Second Harvest and upped her percentage from the standard 15 percent. She’s participated in the open studio event for the past six years.

“SVOS is a very reputable nonprofit and they really tried this year because there couldn’t be open studios for the artists,” she said. “Anyone in the cultural sphere is really being hurt financially this year, so they’ve gone to this virtual format.”

Greensweig said, until roughly seven years ago, SVOS did not incorporate artists from the coast. It’s only more recently that local artists and the nonprofit have partnered to bring potential buyers to the Coastside.

Grimm, who specializes in acrylic paintings, had been involved with SVOS for the last two years. Due to the program’s broad scope, she could collaborate with other artists in the Bay Area to sell work across the region.

“SVOS has been very proactive in trying to get all the participating artists out there,” Grimm said. “We’re all walking in uncharted territory.”

This will be Cressman’s third time participating in the event. Cressman has been crafting jewelry for five years and creates intricate works out of resin, wool and silver. She said that while she’ll certainly miss the in-person interaction the open studios concept usually brings, she’s still glad to participate.

“In the current situation, artists have a hard time getting a realistic audience,” Cressman said. “Any support is really appreciated.”

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