The 63rd Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival is set for Sept. 14-15 in Old Mill Park.

Artist Zach Gilmour, at top middle at last year’s Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival and at bottom middle at work, is flanked by a pair of his recent monotypes. Courtesy images.

PictureThe 2019 Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival poster by Zach Gilmour. Courtesy image.

It’s the quintessential artistic quest: how to pursue your passion and make ends meet at the same time.

For Mill Valley native Zach Gilmour, a third generation artist literally surrounded by artists – both his parents and grandparents, on both sides, were artists in many forms – that pursuit initially proved elusive. He first sought to blaze a new trail, garnering a certificate in cooking from the California Culinary Academy and working as a baker for a time, but came to the conclusion that whether he liked it or not, art with a capital A was too important to be a hobby.

Gilmour, who grew up in Blithedale Canyon, enrolled in the printmaking department of the San Francisco Art Institute, transferring to what is now the California College of Art and graduating with a BFA in printmaking. He dove deeply into his art, but that whole “make ends meet” thing was hit and miss. A stint in the retail world proved unrealistic, and a foray into the design world ended with the bursting of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s.

But when earned his teaching credential in art from Sonoma State University in 2007, Gilmour found that balance, which he’s leveraged into a multi-faceted impact with both his own art and that of a generation of young artists. Gilmour teaches art at Tam High.

“I love teaching art, but it also feeds other things for me, particularly working with teenagers and drawing on my own experiences as a teen,” says Gilmour, who lives in Forest Knolls with his wife and the son they just sent off to college. “What they need is a person who gives a damn and who is willing to meet them where they are. The arts is definitely a place where I can do that.”

PictureThe annual Tam High artist exhibit at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival. Courtesy image.

​But the teaching calendar also allows Gilmour to immerse himself in his art, as well as in the larger Mill Valley artistic community. He’s been helping to curate the annual Tam High artist exhibit at the festival for many years, and also works with students to apply to MVFAF’s Emerging Artist scholarship that the festival gives to two seniors and two juniors each year. This year’s winners are seniors Maren Curtis and Logan Paglinawan and juniors Lily Kun and Ilaria Montenecourt.

Gilmour also serves on the MVFAF Committee – his mother Susan was a past MVFAF board president – and will be exhibiting at MVFAF for the fourth straight year. Gilmour primarily does monotype printmaking of abstract landscapes, a printmaking process that is similar to etching or blockprinting. Each print is one of a kind. “Even though I’m using a printmaking process, it’s more akin to painting,” he says. 

That’s the process Gilmour used to design the MVFAF poster above. But he gets equally animated about garnering a grant from the Tam High Foundation to acquire an etching press for his classroom.

“It’s all been really exciting,” he says.

The 411: The 63rd Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival is set for Sept. 14-15 in Old Mill Park. in Old Mill Park, 10am-5pm. MORE INFO & TIX. In addition to Zach Gilmour, the fest also features Mill Valley artists Tina Fossella (ceramics), Sarah Suloff (jewelry), Lance Kennedy (photography), Judith Lemmens (ceramics), Mike Moir (photography), Eric DaBreo (photography) and Erica Honig (jewelry). MVFAF’s featured exhibit is “Green Change: Artists Consider Our Climate Crisis,” which explore the climate crisis through the lens of contemporary art, in collaboration with Green Change, a grassroots environmental network.

ALSO: Organizers are encouraging those who can ride their bikes to do so by offering a $5 discount voucher to those that park their bicycle for free on the Depot Plaza (85 Throckmorton Ave.) via a partnership with the Marin Bicycle Coalition and sponsor Tam Bikes to host a safe, free bike parking corral.

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