Booked more as a friend-raiser than fundraiser, what it turned out to be was a 3-day treasure hunt for art lovers.

The Wildling Museum’s 7th annual Santa Ynez Valley Artist Studio Tour took place Nov. 18-20 with a stellar turnout despite the rain.

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“It’s hard to know for sure,” says Holly Cline, director of Communications and Membership, “because information is still filtering in from different sources, but it looks like we had about 190 people sign up for the tour.”

Thirty local artists signed up to be on the tour, the most ever to date. “It seems like every year we are getting new artists because not everyone is available to do it every year,” says Cline. Next year the event will be moved to the last weekend in October, so it will be lighter outside later.

Participation for new artists is flexible. But as not all studios are conducive to the event’s requirements, people interested in participating need to contact the museum well in advance so details can be worked out.

The price of the ticket more or less covers the cost of organizing the event. The artists, who this year have reported fairly good sales, keep the majority of the proceeds but donate 20% to the museum. “It’s not really a fundraiser for us,” says Cline, who views the tours as a good way to introduce the public to both the museum and to their local artistic community.

Starting with a Friday evening reception over wine, tasty treats and a beer tasting provided by Figueroa Mountain Brewery, artists and tour participants gathered at the museum for the exhibit opening. One of each of the artist’s works will remain on display and for sale until Nov. 27.

Armed with maps and high-resolution postcards displaying an example of each participant’s work and contact information, tour goers traveled from studio to studio over the course of the two days. “Yeah, there is almost no way you can get to all of them, nor should you try,” says Cline, who encourages people to choose the artists whose works most interests them. Some offer demonstrations, some opportunities to participate, and nearly all food and drink.

While many artists took home paychecks, and cars were loaded with new family treasures, it was a weekend of inspiration and awe not to be missed.

Participating artists, whose contact information is available on the museum website, were: Donna and Wesley Anderegg, Mike Brady, Bill and Gwen Cates, Sarah Chamberlin, James Cleland, Virginia Cooper (dba Vergilia), Jim Farnum, Rebecca Gomez, Michelle Griffoul, Ron Guthrie, Suzan Hamilton Todd, Chris Hansen, Gene Inglis-Ward, Joseph Knowles, Mike Magrill, Jamie McConnell, Teresa McNeil MacLean, Zoë Nathan, Rise Delmar Ochsner, Larry R. Rankin, Richard Rice, Pat Roberts, Jane Schwarzwalter, Bud Tullis, C. Wood, Nancy Yaki, Seyburn Zorthian and Pamela Zwehl-Burke.