Sausalito’s 58th annual art festival took place over Labor Day weekend, bringing together artists from as far away as Wisconsin, Seattle and Los Angeles. It was, in a word, expensive.

Just to get into the festival cost 20 dollars a day—although if for some reason you wanted to be there all weekend, 30 dollar, three day passes were also available. But the entry fee wasn’t even the worst part. On top of that, if you drove to the festival, you’d have the to pay five dollars to park far away and take a less-than-lovely stroll through the industrial waterfront. If you wanted to impress your date, you could opt to pay a whopping ten dollars to park closer to the festival.

All this parking drama would make sense in San Francisco, where parking is at a premium. But parking in Sausalito is usually not a problem. But in order to pump up revenue from the event (or maybe to appease the natives who don’t want cars in their neighborhoods) signs like this were posted everywhere you’d normally be able to park:

NO PARKING!

These were all over Sausalito

If you were smart enough to ride your bike there, rest assured that you wouldn’t have to park it yourself—such hard labor is not fit for the posh attendees. Instead, the Marin Bicycle Coalition operated a bicycle valet parking service, which is basically a fancy way of saying that they’d take your bike and line it up next to a bunch of other ones behind a fence. But still, it seemed to be a popular service.

Valet bicycle parking was provided by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition

Once inside the festival, one thing stood out: The uniformity of the crowd. Without getting offensive, let’s just say that this was not the most diverse crowd I’ve encountered. Overwhelmingly middle-aged or older, dressed in collared shirts and expensive looking summer dresses, they typified the Sausalito you’d imagine.

There was one standout, however. The art was excellent. Amazing, in fact. And it had better be, given how much it cost. Pieces selling for 10,000 dollars were commonplace. And it was expensive for the artists too. Metal sculptor Holly Rodes Smithey had made the trip to Sausalito from Bend, Oregon. She wouldn’t say how much her booth cost, but “it’s expensive,” she said. “It’s always a gamble, but we’ve sold a few pieces.” Still, she wasn’t sure she’d be back next year.

The art ranged from the typical paintings and blown-up photographs on canvas to the more creative, like artist Marc Sjan’s unnervingly realistic statues, and Scott and Naomi Schoenherr’s cute and original, hand painted ceramic hot rods. I asked Scott Schoenherr how often he was able to sell a 1,200 dollar ceramic car. “Uh…yeah…” he replied. “Not much of a market, but you know…” At that price, you don’t need to sell many to make it worth your while.

Marc Sijan's sculptures are sometimes more realistic then you'd like.

There were other things to do too, just in case the art got to be too much: You could eat. And drink. But you’d better have a fat wallet. Fish and chips was nine dollars, and a glass of champagne was 8 dollars. There was also a selection of beers and other food, but none of it was cheap.

Simply put, the Sausalito Art Festival is aimed at a different demographic: Rich. My roommate literally overheard one man commenting on the price of the tickets. “It keeps the rabble out,” he allegedly said. To this demographic, the show was a roaring success. The art was beautiful, and I’m sure the food and wine was delicious. And you could always bid on an Aston Martin in the silent auction.

If you didn't feel like buying art, you could always bid on this Aston Martin Rapide instead.

But for the younger and poorer residents of Sausalito? Well, on Monday, there was a concert and picnic in Marin City, right across the freeway from Sausalito. It was free.

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