Donald Munro

Sierra Art Trails promises a crisp, memorable experience in foothills

Work by Craig Schub will be on display in North Fork as part of 2016 Sierra Art Trails.
Work by Craig Schub will be on display in North Fork as part of 2016 Sierra Art Trails. Special to The Bee

Sierra Art Trails is a gem. This weekend’s 14th annual open house of galleries and studios in the foothill communities of eastern Madera and Mariposa counties is one of those events that might take a little effort, but there’s a tremendous artistic payoff. The three-day celebration tops my arts picks for the week.

Art in the foothills

The event: Buy a Sierra Art Trails catalog for $20, which serves as your printed guide and admission for two people to participating venues. You’ll be able to see a variety of painting, photography, jewelry, sculpture, fiber art, woodcarving, ceramics, glass and more.

The setting: Spread out across more than a dozen communities, the trail is the perfect drive for a crisp fall day. Many of the sites include three to five artists, which allows you to see more art with less driving time. This is a region jam-packed with artists, with trail organizers touting that it has more artists per capita than anywhere in the United States.

The strategy: It helps to plan. It would be tough to make it to all the venues even over three days. So you’ll have to make some choices. There are 25 new artists represented this year, so even if you’re a repeat visitor, there’s plenty to see. If you’re a newbie, one good place to start is the preview exhibit at Stellar Gallery in Oakhurst’s Gallery Row, 40982 Highway 41, Oakhurst. There’s a representative piece from each artist. You can also pick up a catalog there. Catalogs also are available at some of the venues.

Faithful fan: Tom Lyden, a Minneapolis television journalist, and his partner, Fred Ohlerking, come every year at this time to visit Lyden’s mother, Bobby, a Mariposa artist and collector who has long been a Sierra Art Trails fan, and accompany her on the trail. When I reached Bobby Lyden by phone Wednesday morning, she was planning to spend the day busy in her kitchen preparing meals in advance so she could devote the weekend to art. “All three days,” she said, happily.

The best part: Meeting artists. Plus, you often get a glimpse at the artists’ work spaces, which makes their art that much more personal.

Details: Sierra Art Trails runs Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2., 559-658-8844.

Words and music

The event: The Florida-based Core Ensemble presents “Tres Vidas,” part of a new genre of chamber music theater, at Fresno Pacific University.

The draw: Actor Rosa Rodriguez will portray Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya and Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni. Accompanying Rodriguez will be musicians Ju Young Lee, cello; Mikael Darmaine, piano; and Michael Parola, percussion. The performance is part of an international conference highlighting the last 30 years of Hispanic American literature.

Details: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at Butler Church, 4884 Butler Ave., Fresno. $15, $10 seniors, free for students. Tickets available online at More information at 559-453-2056.