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Countless visual artists have chosen to call Santa Barbara home. Art galleries are found throughout the town and local museums are outstanding. Why not get “artsy” this weekend. Tour open studios, visit a gallery or museum or make some art of your own?

Open studios

Forty-five local artists open their private art studios this Labor Day long weekend for public tours, which gives art-lovers a chance to meet the artists and purchase artworks directly. Getting there is part of the fun -- a self-guided driving map rambles through back roads and through charming neighborhoods from the Funk Zone to Montecito and beyond.

The Studio Artists Tour is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $20, good for all three days, and children 16 and under are free, available at

Examples of each artist’s work are on view at the 10 West Gallery, (10 W. Anapamu St., just off State Street), where tickets are also on sale.

Gem Faire

The annual Gem Faire is a not-to-be-missed event for the lovers of sparkly and colorful gemstones. More than 100 exhibitors offer ready-to-wear creations or loose stones for your own artistic endeavors. Classes and workshops are also offered. Be dazzled, or bedazzled from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. It’s only $7 for a weekend pass; kids under 12 are free. Download a 2-for-1 coupon at

Zoo Fundays

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Budding young artists can create different animal-inspired crafts every weekend at the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Explorer Fundays. This weekend celebrates the garbage collectors of the animal world -- vultures. (Sunday is Vulture Awareness Day). Use recycled wine corks and googly eyes to make miniature California condors this weekend. Next weekend, make handprint flamingos. Don’t miss the zoo’s flamingos, which are sitting on eggs right now. Explorer Fundays are free with zoo admission. (962-5339,

Free museum

There’s still plenty to see at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, even though they are in the midst of an extensive renovation. Admission is free though Sept. 17. The front doors facing State Street are temporarily closed, so enter through the back entrance accessible via La Arcada (take a left at the turtle fountain) or next to the Santa Barbara Public Library from Anacapa Street.

Highlights from their outstanding permanent collection are on view, including a grouping of photographs by American and European artists inspired by “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Asia)” taken by Yinka Shonibare. As the title suggests, they are dreamy, otherworldly, and often uncanny. (963-4364,

QUICK PICK: In “Big Sky,” currently on view at the Marcia Burtt Gallery, local artists and photographers explore clouds, fog and landscapes dominated by sky. This atmospheric showcase, including Burtt’s own work, is on view through Sept. 24. (517 Laguna St., 962-5588,

Julia McHugh can be reached at