Painting by Julie Sessa

2016 NCOS Art Show and Reception — Sat., May 7th at Stonesthrow Boutique

Painting by Julie Sessa
Painting by Julie Sessa

Join us for the annual Art Show and Reception, happening during May Arts Alive (Sat., May 7th from 6-9pm) at Stonesthrow Boutique, 423 F Street in Eureka.

The Boutique is in the former Sewell Gallery space, and still proudly boasts the same beautiful street-facing windows, lighting, and high ceilings.

The reception will be your first opportunity to pick up a 2016 NCOS Guidebook (bring a pen, so you can start marking the studios you don’t want to miss in June!), peruse art from 70+ of our participating artists, watch live art being created by Andrew Daniel and Allen Cassidy, and projected animations by Steven Vander Meer. We’ll have hard cider and wine (from Wrangletown Cider Co. and sister-brand North Story Wines, respectively) by donation, plus cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre, deliciously paired with bread and crackers from Beck’s Bakery.

Please join our event on Facebook for event updates, and make plans to join us during May Arts Alive. Thank you to Stonesthrow Boutique for hosting the Art Show (hanging through mid-June) and Reception, and our major sponsors, Wildberries Marketplace and Pierson Building Company, who continue to support art in the local community and keep this event affordable for the artists and free to the public. Next time you shop with these businesses, please tell them we sent you!

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Meet NCOS Coordinator Monica Topping

Photo by Ryan Filgas

Monica Topping is the coordinator for NCOS, and has organized the event for the last two years. After successfully crowdfunding the 2014 small town: BIG ART calendar, a celebration of Humboldt County art and artists, she was offered the opportunity to step into the coordination position at NCOS, which started with assisting former coordinator Taffy Stockton in 2013. After working with other artists through st:BA, NCOS felt right and it was good timing. Monica thoroughly enjoys meeting artists and visiting (and photographing!) the studios after she’s done her work organizing the event.

A Bit of Background

Photo by Ryan Filgas
Photo by Ryan Filgas

Where art is concerned, Monica is pretty crafty and has a background in photographing concerts, though journalism is where her main interests lie, and where she holds her degree from Humboldt State University. She’s really attracted to the community of artists we have and that’s what inevitably lead her to becoming involved in our crazy, wacky Kinetic Sculpture Race in 2004, then more recently with this group of painters, drawers, sculptors, print-makers, designers, photographers and anything I may have missed.

In the near future of NCOS, Monica is looking to:

  • Get more youth involved in the event
  • Participation from more, different types of artists
  • Expand the the event to include artisan manufacturing (this year we happily welcomed Humboldt’s own Dick Taylor Craft Chocolates, and Humboldt Bay Coffee Company!)

One of Monica’s favorite experiences, last year, was attending Beth Kabat‘s Open Studio. She loved that there was a hands-on screen printing demo and enjoyed watching kids get involved in the process. In addition, what she loves about Open Studios is seeing not only the personalities of the artists, but how their studios feel as well: the organization, the creations, the process, and the “creative mess” behind the refined work of each artist.

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Mondragon - 2015

Fieldbrook Leathersmith Amber Mondragon Welcomes Visitors

Handmade leather purse by Amber Mondragon of Mondragon Designs
Handmade leather purse by Amber Mondragon of Mondragon Designs

Local leathersmith Amber Mondragon of Mondragon Designs welcomes visitors to her Fieldbrook studio during the second weekend of North Coast Open Studios, Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14.

Mondragon looks forward to meeting new people during the event, and sharing her enthusiasm for handmade products with them.

“My artwork is fueled by function and inspired by nature,” says Mondragon. “Leather design is my way of expressing the beauty and alchemy of what people are capable of.”

The artist hand paints custom orders, using vegetable and oil tanned leathers. After finishing a knife sheath or belt, most of her leather scraps are saved for future use in her designs, including appliques, earrings, or a little inspiration for her six year old daughter’s artistic expression. When she acquires an overabundance of these leather scraps, they’ll be donated to a local nonprofit children’s art project to continue the creativity.

During Open Studios, Mondragon Designs is offering a 20% discount for all visitors, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Outside of the event, Mondragon Designs can be found online, in their Etsy shop.

During the second weekend of North Coast Open Studios, Mondragon Designs will be joined by neighboring Fieldbrook artist Peter Zambas. More information on the event can be found at

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Lester, Lauren - Dolason Prairie in Redwood National Park 2015

McKinleyville Watercolor Artist Lauren Lester Opens Her Studio

“Dolason Prairie in Redwood National Park,” watercolor painting by Lauren Lester
“Dolason Prairie in Redwood National Park,” watercolor painting by Lauren Lester

The public is invited to the second weekend of North Coast Open Studios – June 13-14 – at Lauren Lester’s home in McKinleyville. The event is a great opportunity to meet the landscape artist and explore her painted favorite places. Open Studios is free to the public and a fun way to learn more about artists and what inspires them.

The natural world is Lester’s passion. Her watercolor paintings are inspired by time out of doors on beaches, swimming in wild waters, and exploring mountains and woods. Once home, she enjoys painting from her own photographs. Through these paintings, Lester revisits both the memories and landscapes themselves.

Lester grew up in remote mountains far from distractions of neighbors and electricity. There, she found peace and meaning in nature.

“I was formed by my childhood experiences,” says Lester. “Being in nature slows my life down, and I find inspiration in the scenery, finding a sense of belonging and place for rainy day painting.”

She says painting landscapes connects her to the natural world; it is her gift back to her favorite places. Each painting has a story behind it and carries memories and experiences forward.

Lester’s home studio is located at 2310 Hewitt Road in McKinleyville, and will be open Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. She can be reached at 839-3373 or

She will be joined during the second weekend of North Coast Open Studios by fellow McKinleyville artists Ann Shackleton, JB Maryn and Susan Walsh Harper.

More information about North Coast Open Studios can be found at or by calling the Ink People Center for the Arts at 442-8413.

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