Santa Cruz Sea Glass and Ocean Arts Festival
Sea glass in Surf City
Visit Santa Cruz in early November, and you may catch the Santa Cruz Sea Glass & Ocean Art Festival. The festival was started in 2009 by Krista Hammond and her husband, Tony Berkowitz, who held the first show in UCSC’s Seymour Marine Discovery Center.
Before starting the Santa Cruz show, Krista had taken part in many shows and was impressed by the creativity and passion that the artists brought to each event. She realized that she could create a similar event in her own town that would honor ocean artists from around the country. In 2015, Krista and Tony retired to Hawaii, and Krista’s sister, Nicole Mattacola, has produced the show ever since.
Nicole was inspired by Krista’s hard work and dedication in creating this annual event. “I love being able to see the community get jazzed about the history and origins of sea glass,” says Nicole. “My family has really had my back as I figured out the way I could carry on the festival, and it’s heartening to see the collection of artists that apply to the event come together to support and celebrate each other and share their appreciation for our hard work.”
Nicole coordinates the show with a handful of staff who bring together 45 exhibitors, sea glass collectors sharing their specimen cases, raffle giveaways, and more than 3,000 visitors who attend. “The visitors are a balanced mix of people that make it a tradition to travel to their favorite beach town, make a weekend trip with friends or family, or take a day trip to Santa Cruz because they saw an ad for the festival,” Nicole says.
This two-day event takes place in the Sun Room at the Boardwalk’s Cocoanut Grove, which opened in 1907 as a casino and which hosted the Miss California beauty pageant in the 1920s, big bands in the 1930s and 1940s, and contemporary artists like Sonny and Cher in the 1960s.
Nicole loves having the show in the Sun Room because the glass ceiling lets the sunshine light up all the artwork. She adds, “I love seeing all the different mediums and ocean-themed designs that clever artists cook up, and I love seeing friends get that flash of love when they find an amazing piece of artwork or jewelry that calls to them.”
Plan your beachcombing trip to Santa Cruz ›
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine September/October 2019 issue.