We are delighted to bring you the first issue of our new Marin Art & Garden Center newsletter. Many of you have expressed interest in knowing more about what’s going on at MAGC, the people behind the scenes and the many dedicated individuals and groups who help us share our beautiful historic site with visitors. When we started making a list of possible short articles, we realized that it is virtually endless since there is so much to talk about. This is an experiment and we hope to settle on a regular newsletter schedule once we get the details figured out. Your thoughts and ideas are most welcome!

Newsletter contributors will be a mix of staff and volunteers, aided by our wonderful web designer, Caroline James, who helps us pull everything together. Katy Negrin, Administrative Coordinator, will be the editor and you can also send her story ideas and photos.

Thanks for reading, and we look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you at MAGC this fall!

Antonia Adezio
Executive Director

Summer Concert Series a Success

The 2017 MAGC Concert Series wrapped up in August after seven weeks of enjoying great music on the Gazebo Lawn. Bands ranged from zydeco to blues to pop classics, and the beats were hard to resist. We’re grateful to the generous sponsors who make it possible to offer this free series to our community. Sponsors include the wonderful caterers who donate delicious boxed meals to benefit MAGC; beer sponsor Mendocino Brewing Company, and a growing list of local businesses who support the events. Please join us in thanking them with your business!

A highlight of this year’s concerts was Conservation Night, which featured exhibits and information from some of the dedicated groups working to save and improve our natural environment. The One Tam “Roving Ranger” and WildCare van were special treats for the kids and it was an honor to have beloved television personality Doug McConnell with us as our guest emcee for the evening.

This year we held a free raffle offering weekly prizes donated by our resident groups, including the Moya Library/Ross Historical Society; Ross Valley Players; and Laurel House Antiques. The grand prize, a whale-watching trip with the Oceanic Society, was won by Dan Gluck. Watch for another great season of music in 2018!

Presidio Tunnel Tops Show Opens in The Studio

The new exhibition in The Studio will show you “San Francisco Like You’ve Never Seen it Before.” Thanks to the generosity of the Presidio Trust, MAGC is sharing an exhibition tracing the development of the design for the Presidio Tunnel Tops, the new 14-acre park taking shape over the tunnels that now carry the rebuilt Doyle Drive from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marina. This audacious project went through an international design competition and a year-long community “listening” process to arrive at a park that will be dramatic, beautiful, and family friendly. For all of us in Marin, the Presidio Tunnel Tops will transform the morning commute and also offer terrific recreational opportunities close to home.

Michael Boland, Chief of Park Development and Operations for the Presidio Trust, says “It has been thrilling to see this project take shape and to know the impact it will have on everyone’s experience of the Presidio, the Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge. With more than 200 types of native plants anchoring mass plantings, it will be a haven for local birds and pollinators, and an outdoor gathering place without equal in San Francisco.”

The exhibition at MAGC includes renderings from the original design submissions and details of the selected design, by James Corner Field Operations, designers of the High Line in New York. There are models and video interviews with project participants and community members, and detailed views of the Playscape, a natural playground designed for exploration by kids of all ages.

Presidio Tunnel Tops is on view in The Studio at MAGC Tuesdays through Sundays from 10am – 4 pm through October 1. Admission is free and no reservations are needed.

Profile: Silvina Blasen, Exceptional Plants-Person

Silvina Blasen is full of energy as she describes her vision for a new garden area. “Take that plant out, move it here, let’s add some more color in that corner, that shrub has to go!” She is a whirlwind with a vision and a master’s eye for detail. Lucky for us, she has chosen to work with us at MAGC, donating her time and expertise to revitalize key areas of the gardens and create harmony and unity throughout the 11-acre grounds.

Silvina is one half of Blasen Landscape Architects, where her partner and husband, Eric Blasen, focuses on the architectural details of new designs and she develops and executes the planting schemes. More or less, that is, since there are no firm lines in the creative process and both Blasens are adept at all aspects of the work. Founded in 1993 the firm has clients throughout the Bay Area and beyond, and their work was documented in the book, Living Land, published in 2013 by ORO editions. Fortunately for us, they are based down the street in San Anselmo, and Silvina has become passionate about contributing her time and aesthetic virtuosity to the Marin Art & Garden Center.

Robert Mooney, MAGC’s Garden Manager, enjoys working with Silvina. “She brings a fresh eye to the gardens, and has introduced us to new plants and combinations that do well here with moderate water and a maintenance need that works for our small staff.” Check out the new plantings at MAGC, which include the Sun Garden near the Fountain Pond and the latest, a revamp of the patio area behind The Studio, which will be used for receptions following our talks and programs.

The gardens are the heart of the Marin Art & Garden Center and they require lots of time, talent, and funds to care for. We’re grateful to Silvina for helping us continue to improve the gardens on our limited budget, and for sharing the beauty of MAGC with others.

Interview: Jessica Fairchild talks about the importance of knowing where you are!

MAGC trustee Jessica Fairchild, AIA, runs a small architectural firm based in the Ross Valley and specializing in a modernist approach to residential and public design. It is she who is responsible for the improvements to the “look and feel” of the MAGC campus over the past several years, with a unified approach to paint colors, site furnishings, and building improvements that has contributed enormously to the appeal of the buildings and grounds. Most recently, Jessica was the architect for the renovation of The Studio, designed for the Marin Society of Artists in 1948 by noted Bay Regional architect Gardner Dailey. Together with Facilities Manager Ken Cottrell, Jessica devised a simple approach to bringing out the beauty of this building, on a shoestring budget.

Recently she has helped us tackle the thicket of signage that is everywhere on the MAGC campus, with multiple styles and periods and including signs directing people to places that no longer exist! Stripping the signage back to basics, Jessica designed streamlined signs for each building and keyed them to a new site map that greatly simplifies finding your way around MAGC. Next were a series of signs reinforcing visitor guidelines, to ensure safety and protect the gardens and grounds.

Jessica says, “Signs aren’t glamorous, but they make all the difference in an enjoyable visitor experience, and we’re glad to have streamlined and improved our system for wayfinding at MAGC.” Have you noticed the new signs? Pick up a copy of our new Visitor Map from the brochure box in the entry courtyard, near the donation box and see if there are corners of MAGC you haven’t discovered yet!

Golf Cart

The MAGC grounds encompass 11 acres, with gentle slopes and winding paths. As much as we love these features, the landscape can be difficult going for our visitors with mobility issues. Some kind of transport for guests who need assistance has long been at the top of our wish list, and this August, we were fortunate to secure funding from the Ross Auxiliary and a grant from the County of Marin that made it possible for us to purchase a 4-person electric golf cart. We are delighted that we can now offer a lift to visitors who need a little help getting over to The Studio to enjoy a workshop or exhibition, up to the Fountain Pond for a wedding ceremony, or to the Barn for a Ross Valley Players performance. The Ross Auxiliary’s support is a wonderful acknowledgment of how valuable it is for all family members to be able to take part in events at MAGC, and the importance of MAGC being open and accessible to everyone in our community. We are deeply grateful for their generous support towards making MAGC more welcoming than ever! Please contact the Main Office if you or someone you know needs assistance in getting around the grounds.