Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what some of the artists associated with Art Works Downtown have to say about us.
Jeanette Harrison, founder and executive director of AlterTheater:
AlterTheater has worked with Art Works Downtown in three very different ways, all integral to AlterTheater's goal of making live theater feel accessible by producing in storefronts along San Rafael's Fourth Street. AlterTheater's first collaboration with Art Works Downtown was a public reading of a brand new play-in-progress by a local playwright, read by professional actors in Art Works Downtown's gallery. This reading was part of AlterTheater's developmental arm, which supports local playwrights in the creation of new work. Our second collaboration made use of Art Works Downtown's lovely public gallery on Fourth Street for a fully-staged mainstage production of the West Coast premiere of Summerland by Bay Area playwright Brian Thorstenson, a critically acclaimed success that was lauded by Marin, East Bay, and San Francisco critics: "If you only see one play for the rest of your life, make it Summerland. It truly satisfies," proclaimed the San Francisco Bay Times.
AlterTheater's productions have brought theatergoers into the gallery, and brought Art Works patrons to see live theater. It's a wonderful collaboration that serves both organizations, and increases San Rafael's reputation as an emerging arts destination. [In 2007], when AlterTheater lost its lease on its office and rehearsal space and was unable to find an affordable alternative space in downtown San Rafael, Art Works Downtown very graciously created a small office space out of a former closet, which AlterTheater rented on a month-by-month basis until we were able to locate an affordable rehearsal and office space. The community atmosphere in the AWD building has been very inspiring, and we are thrilled to be a more integral part of this vibrant artist community. AlterTheater and Art Works Downtown are pleased by our relationship, and we are discussing future AlterTheater productions in Art Works Downtown's gallery [including Thirst by Dike Garrison in 2008, and Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage in 2010.]
Unai San Martin, photographer, apartment resident artist:
At my place I have been able to create and organize the artwork: The room is spacious, and it is filled with northern light. As a photographer, I couldn't ask for more. When you photograph a still life with light coming from the North, the tonal range is very subtle, almost mystical. And as a person living in San Rafael, I feel very fortunate to live in a building that has a sense of community, where neighbours interact, instead of living in some house or anonymous apartment complex where nobody talks to each other. Art Works Downtown is truly a special place.
Stephanie Jucker, painter, AWD studio artist:
I joined Art Works Downtown  years ago when it started and have seen it go from strength to strength ever since. Having made art at home for a few years it was great to come to a place where I could have my own studio and a sense of community. Although I enjoy the autonomy of my space, having other artists around provides social interaction and the exchange of ideas that I thrive on as a painter.
Getting regular feedback from colleagues and the public has helped develop my work. It has evolved and matured over the years and as a result I [have] exhibited in galleries in San Francisco and [was] part of the Florence Biennale in December 2007.
Kelly Richardson, drug & alcohol counselor, musician & painter, apartment & studio tenant:
Having my live/work space in the AWD building is literally a dream come true for me. The support, encouragement and community of artists living, working, creating and exhibiting at AWD is a "turnkey" solution for me. I play music and write songs with my fellow residents, we share food and informal critiques of our latest artworks. AWD is an ongoing cultural event. As a former San Francisco Artist of 18 years, there is no place I'd rather be than AWD.
Shaun Marshall, administrator at Ritter Center, musician, apartment tenant:
I have lived at Art Works Downtown for almost [five] years and cannot imagine a better place to be. In addition to working full time as an administrative assistant for the Ritter Center, I am also a professional musician who has benefited greatly from living in a place that promotes and facilitates an artistic environment.
I know there have been many days that I have felt inspired to roll up my sleeves and get to work on my music after spending a short time downstairs in the main [gallery] looking at the various paintings and sculptures that make their way through the gallery. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that being around other forces of artistic creativity helps greatly in both inspiration and in the discipline side of creativity. Creativity is not always an instant gift and like anything else it requires work, work and more work. It definitely benefits me on a slow or not so inspirational day to be around others who are working away at their craft. In this way creativity and work can be contagious and that is a good thing!
Christine Cohen, "Art Work Out" artist, former studio artist:
I cannot even imagine what my artist's life would look like without a [space] at Art Works Downtown.
In the past I had claimed different parts in my house as my studio: the garage, the bathroom, the laundry room...and then when I moved into AWD something mysterious happened that I had not known before: creativity is rubbing off on each other when artists are working in close proximity together.
This definitely happened for me, especially after I started "The Art Work Out Studio". When the opportunity arose to utilize a large, affordable, yet underused room on the lower level, I ran with it and turned it into a classroom/shared studio space/creativity lab to explore new ways to paint and teach. Immediately my images got larger, and instead of traditional still lifes, I taught classes in realism, surrealism and abstraction, and as a group we did several outstanding group shows together. As a result, without noticing it, we learned from each other and every body grew...