Mendocino and Fort Bragg
Mendocino is a serious art center, with more than a dozen galleries and the student-focused Mendocino Art Center. Opened in 1959, the center is still a vibrant hub, drawing more than 1,500 art students each year. Mendocino itself seems built to inspire artists, with its historic water towers and dainty Victorians.
There is so much art here and in Fort Bragg that paintings and sculptures aren't confined to galleries. Be sure to look in antiques shops, restaurants, and even coffee shops. You'll see wood and glass art pieces that are among the finest anywhere. Find out which artists open their studios by appointment by looking through the Mendocino Beacon's "What's Happening" section. The newspaper is available at local newsstands, bookstores, and grocery stores, and online www.mendocinobeacon.com.
Artists' Co-op of Mendocino. Small but packed with variety; look carefully or you'll miss the second-story location. 10:30–4:30 daily. 45270 Main St., Mendocino; www.artgallerymendocino.com or 707/937-2217.
Ledford House Restaurant. The menu is a taste of southern France (try the cassoulet). Fabric art and murals by chef-owner Lisa Greer adorn the walls. $$$. 3000 N. State 1, Albion; www.ledfordhouse.com or 707/937-0282.
Mendocino Art Center. An arts landmark, learning center, and hothouse for new talent. 10–4 Mon–Sat, 11–4 Sun. 45200 Little Lake St., Mendocino; www.mendocinoartcenter.org or 707/937-5818.
Northcoast Artists Gallery. Lots of variety and friendly help in an artist-owned co-op. 10–5 daily. 362 N. Main St., Fort Bragg; www.northcoastartists.org or 707/964-8266.
Partners Gallery at Glendeven. Stay at art-filled Glendeven Inn (10 rooms and 1 vacation house from $145; 8205 N. State 1, Little River; www.glendeven.com, 800/822-4536, or 707/937-0083), or visit adjacent Partners Gallery (closed until Feb 3, then open 10–5 Thu–Mon; 8205 N. State 1; www.partnersgallery.com or 707/937-3525. Run by a group of very experienced local artists, the gallery exhibits contemporary paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and photography.
Take State 1 north from San Francisco, two hours to Bodega Bay and an hour more to Gualala. For more details, contact the Redwood Coast Chamber of Commerce (www.redwoodcoastchamber.com or 800/778-5252).
From Gualala, it's about another hour north to Mendocino and an hour and a half to Fort Bragg. For more area information, contact the Mendocino County Alliance www.gomendo.com or 866/466-3636. Visit during Fort Bragg's First Friday (707/964-8266) or Mendocino's Second Saturday (707/937-5818) for exhibit openings, receptions, and extended gallery hours.