“Looking up at the Giant Sequoia is always awe-inspiring. When I have the time, I love to go up to the basketry garden. It’s one of the garden’s little hidden treasures.”

In a region with unparalleled natural beauty, it is the task of local creators to capture its magnificence and return it to the world in the form of art. At the WERKSTATT pop-up in The Shop, entrepreneur Lilia Chandran not only shares her own art, but also curates and sells the collections of other local artists and offers creative events, clubs, classes, and workshops to provide the community with an all-encompassing shopping, learning, and entertainment experience.

Lilia’s affiliation with Marin Art and Garden Center began in 2021. “It was during my first real retail pop-up as ‘WERKSTATT’ in downtown Fairfax,” she says. “The garden’s then Executive Director Antonia Adezio and Office Manager Katy Negrin were checking out my dear friend’s shop, The Potting Shed, and stumbled upon WERKSTATT right next door. I think they were really drawn to my mission. We exchanged contact information, and before I knew it, I was hosting my first pop-up at Marin Art and Garden Center – a Valentine’s Day flower market, which we hosted again in 2024 with the help of local florist, Rebecca J. Designs.”

Originally from Germany but raised in Fairfax, Lilia has been in retail since she was just a kid. “I walked through downtown Fairfax on my way home from school most days and would stop in at Sherman’s General Store, where the owner, Patty, would let me price things and then eventually taught me just about everything I know about retail,” she says. “I ended up working there well through high school until I took part in starting my first store, The Garage, with a group of other artists in Fairfax when I was about 20. That’s where I think I first got a taste for caring about a larger mission. I learned a lot there, too, what to do and what NOT to do. I watched good people fall into arguments, and saw friendships fall apart, which always broke my heart. I feel lucky that many of those people have remained close friends and are now artists in my shop.” 

As life took its exciting twists and turns, Lilia found herself returning to Germany where she worked on a degree in gold-smithing. “In that time, I made friends who were art students of all kinds – musicians and makers. I got so used to everyone being ok, surviving, because of the massive amount of support from the government and a culture that celebrates art and craft. When I came back to California, I found friends had been forced to move or were well on their way, living with day-to-day financial insecurity, predatory landlords, and still being paid $20 an hour in a county where the average studio is well over $2000 a month. Having just come from a country where there is a lot of support available to people, I couldn’t just accept that people were being priced out, failed by their government and their communities. I just had to do some kind of work that at least tried to be helpful. I don’t think I had a choice. I care way too much probably! But someone’s got to!” 

Lilia’s passion for helping artists while stocking only the finest products and putting on events for all to enjoy is evident in WERKSTATT’s diverse lineup of happenings. “We’ve hosted many concerts,” she says. “I love it, and I’d love to keep doing it, especially because I know that it is especially hard for musicians to make money, and because it’s especially fun. I’m also excited about our classes. We have Valentine-making classes for kids with local artists, 

like Courtney Booker, of SoJellyJelly and Sidewalk Art Club. We also have silk flower-making workshops and felting classes with Meredith Law. In addition to our ethos of supporting artists and makers financially, I love for WERKSTATT to also be a place that inspires more people to make art and be creative.” 

“It’s really common that artists will start off at WERKSTATT believing that their pieces won’t sell,” Lilia continues, “and I love texting them when something sells, like ‘I told you!’ It’s rewarding to be able to remind people how much their time and creativity is worth. Making real money for real people is the goal. We can all say that we support artists, but unless we actually physically participate in supporting people financially, the words don’t mean anything. I love writing checks for people who I know are living with debt, or raising their kids, or paying exorbitant rent prices. It feels good. I am part of this group. I am an artist living month-to-month, paying way too much for my tiny studio in Marin, so I fully understand how meaningful a little cash can be.”

Being in a beautiful place clearly inspires Lilia’s art and mission, as well. “I get to walk through the front area of Marin Art and Garden Center almost every morning and evening to put out my directional signs and bring them back in. It’s such a wonderful way to start and end the day. Looking up at the Giant Sequoia is always awe-inspiring. When I have the time, I love to go up to the basketry garden. It’s one of the garden’s little hidden treasures. I would love to take a basketry class or maybe host one in the basketry garden.” 

“I honestly love every day at WERKSTATT on the property,” Lilia expresses. “Even on the slowest days, when there’s no money coming in, being surrounded by all the thoughtfully created things made by people who I have personal connections with, whose families I know and care about — it’s special. I love making displays and moving things around. I also really loved WINTERMARKT — a market I hosted in December that so many people came out to. It was such a great time, and I met many wonderful people. I love the connection and community that WERKSTATT creates.”

“I absolutely love everyone that I have spent time with at the garden. All of the employees and volunteers are hard-working, thoughtful, and caring people. I felt very at home right away from my first pop-up, and it keeps me wanting to come back. I’d love to stay. I think that WERKSTATT is a great fit for the center. We put the Art in ‘Art and Garden’. Everyone who walks through our front door has just walked through an incredibly peaceful and grounding garden, their nervous systems are regulated; they’re happy. What a gift!”

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IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at tod.thorpe@maringarden.org to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center