Mary Frances Crabtree says that an artist's work is never done.

"I am always at work: figure drawing from the live model, perfecting my creation of 'black and light' to draw images, using dramatic and vivid color in my oil paintings, and catching the essence of a scene with my plein air gouaches," said the Concord painter and art teacher.

Artists know what it's like to work "in isolation," occasionally interacting with other artists in open studios and classes. But what makes creating art even more fun is getting together in an outdoor setting with fellow artists showing their work while raising funds for a good cause.

That's the reason Art in the Park in Martinez was formed. Now in its 45th year, the Martinez Arts Association started as a way to educate and enrich the lives of the community through art and live music, said Marlene Haws, event coordinator.

"The proceeds benefit the MAA scholarship fund," Haws said. "Each year, scholarships are given out to deserving local young artists who wish to pursue a career in the arts by furthering their education."

As in previous years, the event will feature more than 60 artisans and crafters from all over the Bay Area and even from Oregon and Nevada. In addition to original works of art, visitors will be entertained with live music from local musicians performing salsa, jazz, country, and rock 'n' roll. Booths will also offer food, wine and beer.


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The biggest change this year is the venue. Art in the Park has been located at Susana Street Park for more than 40 years, Haws said.

"The park is in the process of being renovated so we changed the venue to Plaza Ignacio Martinez which is located between City Hall and the Boys & Girls Club," she said. "It is a lovely brick plaza with a large fountain and surrounded by trees and lawns. It will be a little more compact but it should prove to be festive and lively."

Crabtree answered a call for "plein air" artists to paint on location during the daylong event.

"The painting, when I finish -- about 4 p.m. Aug. 17 -- will be donated and placed on auction, sold to the highest bidder," said Crabtree, who teaches art to children, predominantly home-schooled with no access to art classes in school. "The money from the sale will benefit the MAA scholarship fund which supports student artists who want to continue their art studies in college."

As an art teacher and working artist, Crabtree knows the importance of introducing art early in life.

"This is why I agreed to participate in Art in the Park: young people with an interest in art and few means, monetarily and accessibility, should be encouraged to continue their art interests," she said.

"Another benefit I see in showing my work at Art in the Park is that I am able to promote art in my community by reaching a wide audience, and I just feel good donating my time and talent for a worthy cause."

Photographer Stephen Lao said meeting other artists from throughout the region and sharing techniques of each other's work is one benefit to participating in Art in the Park.

"I help the organizers any way I can," said Lao, a MAA member who has been participating in Art in the Park for seven years and is also the event photographer.

His "behind-the-scenes" duties include promoting via YouTube videos, Craigslist ads and selling Art in the Park T-shirts. As an eclectic artist, Lao paints in all media, including recycled materials such as shredded paper. He's created succulent and floral arrangements, jewelry with natural stones, hand-painted T-shirts and origami.

MAA offers opportunities to local artists as well as giving scholarships to graduating high school seniors and grants to teachers for art supplies.

if you go
WHAT: Art in the Park
WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 17
WHERE: Plaza Ignacio Martinez, located between City Hall and Boys & Girls Club, Alhambra Avenue at Henrietta Street, Martinez
COST: Free admission
INFORMATION: Visit
martinezarts.org