For more ideas on safe and relaxing Bay Area day trips you can take in 2020, visit EscapeByTheBay.com
How have you spent the extra time at home these past months? Maybe you’ve taken up a new, creative hobby? Whether you’ve recently discovered — or rediscovered — your love of sketching, watercolor painting, something more abstract, Benicia’s scenic vistas and thriving arts scene make it the premiere hub of inspiration for creators all around the bay.
Here are some ideas to celebrate the arts as you escape to Benicia for the day:
Stock up for a picnic at Java Point Cafe
Swing by Java Point for some amazing brunch foods to-go. Try out their new refreshing Sweet Creamy Cold Brew with fresh mint leaves for the perfect summer coffee drink. Their brunch specials and sandwiches are always delicious, and make sure to check their Facebook page for any specials, as well!
They are open 7am-3pm daily for to-go and pickup orders. Call 707.745.1449. Credit card payments only.
Art Galleries Reopenings
Downtown Benicia is filled with artistic inspiration everywhere. Many of Benicia’s artists live and work in the Benicia Arsenal, a former military base now turned into studios where many independent artists work and support each other. Many of the galleries have reopened, so spend some time enjoying the one-of-a-kind works on the talented local artists.
Gallerie Renee Marie | 1038 First Street
Gallerie Renee Marie is reopened on Saturdays from 11am-5pm and will be allowing single viewers in 20-minute intervals to view their latest exhibit, the Gender Gap.
To view this exhibit, guests are to request an appointment by emailing email@example.com. Guests must wear protective masks and gloves when visiting.
Arata Art Gallery | 637 First Street
If you are unable to make the event, no worries! Evans’ work will be showcased at the gallery from July 9 through August 16 and “Artist in the Window” will become a regular event at the gallery for visitors to come and watch an artist at work while being social distanced and in the outdoor air.
The gallery is currently open Saturdays from 11am-5pm and Sundays from 12pm-5pm. Call 707.297.6151 for more information.
HQ Gallery | 333 First Street
HQ Gallery is now featuring the art of 25 artists and 25 different styles. Check out their 3D virtual tour or swing by when they’re open on Saturday & Sundays from 12pm-6pm.
Gallery 621 | 309 First Street
Gallery 621 is a contemporary gallery owned and run by its members. They are now open Friday-Sunday, 12pm-6pm with all new work and a special small works show.
Benicia Plein Air Gallery | 307 First Street
During the months of June and July 2020, a percentage of Benicia Plein Air Gallery‘s sales revenue will support COVID-19 relief charities. Stop by the gallery to see which paintings are eligible. The gallery will be open with a temporary new schedule, from Friday-Sunday, 12pm-6pm.
Once Upon a Canvas | 129 First Street, Suite J
Once Upon a Canvas is where anyone can be inspired and enchase their love of art. From original works, prints and art cards, there is always something new on display. Their gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-5pm or take one of their online Zoom classes to create art from the comfort of your home!
The Little Art Shop | 129 First Street, Suite E
The Little Art Shop features the works of over 30 talented artists. These artists create gifts that fit every budget and art that will grace the loftiest of living rooms. Stop by any day of the week, 11am-5pm and shop for the perfect unique gift.
Sketch historical buildings
Pack your canvas and watercolors and scout out a spot by the Benicia waterfront for picturesque views of the Southern Pacific Train Depot or the iconic Carquinez Bridge as you enjoy your afternoon picnic.
For those with a passion for architectural sketching, Benicia is the perfect place to visit. The Southern Pacific Train Depot, originally built in the mid-1890s, was moved to this location in 1902. For many years, it served as the last stop before travelers on the Transcontinental Railroad boarded “one of the largest ferries in the world,” the Solano or Contra Costa Ferry, which carried them across the Carquinez Strait to Port Costa.
Today, the depot serves as a historic site and home to Benicia Main Street‘s visitor center. It’s the perfect subject for vintage architectural sketches.
(image courtesy of: Ron Reiring)
From there, a simple glance back over your shoulder provides a perfect view of the Carquinez Strait, complete with sailboats, kayakers, and windsurfing against the iconic silhouette of the Carquinez Bridge — a colorful vista that brings in painters of all types.
Public Art Scavenger Hunt
In addition to housing a thriving artists community, the streets of Benicia are lined with art. As you stroll through downtown, see how many of these public art installations you are able to spot!
Behind The Tannery Building, on the shoreline walkway of Benicia, is Neptune’s Daughter, a nearly seven-food bronze sculpture of a woman holding a pelican. Sculptor Lisa Reinertson donated the sculpture to the City of Benicia in 2019 as a reminder to keep the waters healthy.
Portrait of George
Bob Arneson, a Benicia native, was a famous sculptor and ceramicist, with works at the SFMOMA, the Oakland Museum and more. Arneson often created self-portraits. This one is available to be viewed on the East Fifth Street side of the Benicia Marina. Take a look at the underside, which contains some secret Easter eggs from the artist!
Tiles by Guiellrmo Granizo
Illustrating the story of Benicia, this series of mosaic tiles lines the downtown sidewalks. Granizo created each mural to depict the historic landmarks, people, and events that created Benicia.
The sidewalk art begins at J Street.
Bring the Arts and Crafts Home!
Artcentric Pottery & Glass Fusing Studio is offering Art To-Go kits and virtual studio art classes to bring the creative inspirations home! Whether you’re interested in pottery, glass fusing, or mosaics, Artcentric has kits for everything!
For a safer experience, Artcentric offers contactless delivery to your car, or shipping. Call ahead or shop online to order some craft supplies to bring home after a day filled with inspiration.
In select areas, Happy Life Pottery is offering remote pottery project classes. Once you sign up for the online class, the staff at Happy Life Pottery will deliver the materials to your doorstep with everything you need for the class! After attending the interactive live class with your instructor, the staff will pick up your finished projects to be dried, glazed and fired.