Monday, August 10, 2020

Marin Sanctuary Marks 75 Years of Arts and Gardens

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2020 at 3:30 PM

LOVE BLOOMS The Marin Art & Garden Center’s floral backdrops make it a destination for weddings as well as conservation. - PHOTO COURTESY MARIN ART & GARDEN CENTER
  • photo courtesy Marin Art & Garden Center
  • LOVE BLOOMS The Marin Art & Garden Center’s floral backdrops make it a destination for weddings as well as conservation.
Even in picturesque Marin County, the Marin Art & Garden Center stands out.

The 11-acre property in the town of Ross is an oasis of floral beauty and historic buildings, and the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the center hosts year-round events and programs on the grounds, including performances from resident theater company the Ross Valley Players.

This summer, as the country stays shut down due to Covid-19, the Marin Art & Garden Center remains open to visitors on foot or on bicycle who are welcomed to safely enjoy the spacious gardens for some much-needed respite. This month, the center celebrates its 75th anniversary, and Marin Art & Garden Center Executive Director Antonia Adezio hopes the grounds remain a fixture of Marin for many years to come.

“We’ve been here for 75 years and the world is a very different place, of course,” Adezio says.

The gardens were originally formed at the end of World War II by the women members of the Marin Conservation League, who also helped save Angel Island and Tomales Bay, among other Marin locales.

“(The Marin Conservation League) were very committed to the natural environment and the environment for people in the North Bay,” Adezio says. “We have that legacy, and there’s also the legacy of the groups that have come together to present programming and arts at the center, and that tradition is alive and well today.”

Working with the center for five years, Adezio is the nonprofit’s first professional executive director for many years, and she is helping raise the center’s profile along with expert horticulturist and garden manager Steven Schwager.

“He’s really taken hold of the gardens,” Adezio says. “People who come and see it now say, ‘I’ve been visiting here for 30 years and it’s never looked like this.’ And they’re right.”

Still, the massive property runs on a tight budget, and Adezio describes the nonprofit running the grounds as a small organization that does a lot with a little.

“We’re working to build our team and keep developing the garden for people to come and enjoy it but also to learn from it,” she says.

In light of the 75-year anniversary, Adezio invites Marin residents to look at the Marin Art & Garden Center with new eyes and to revisit the distinctive and charming gardens and buildings that were designed by mid-century master architects such as Thomas Church.

As the gardens remain open for foot traffic, the organization is also bolstering its presence online with its virtual art exhibition, “Rooted in Wonder,” featuring a video tour of works by painter Frances McCormack and interdisciplinary artist Miya Hannan.

“We have seen that during the pandemic it’s become more important to have a place like the gardens, and people are appreciating that they’ve been able to stay open and let people spend some time in nature,” Adezio says. “We want people to know that we are still here for them, they can visit and we hope to be able to gather again before long.”

Marin Art & Garden Center is located at 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. oOpen daily, foot traffic allowed sunrise to sunset, parking lot is available 10am to 4pm. Free admission and parking.
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Monday, July 20, 2020

Seghesio Family Vineyards Selects Artist for Anniversary Mural

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Artist Angie Mattson's proposed mural, "Night in Zinfandel" will be painted at Seghesio's Healdsburg tasting room later this year.
  • Artist Angie Mattson's proposed mural, "Night in Zinfandel" will be painted at Seghesio's Healdsburg tasting room later this year.
Founded five generations ago, Sonoma County’s historic Seghesio Family Vineyards is preparing to celebrate its 125th anniversary this fall, and in addition to planned parties and events, the winery’s tasting room in Healdsburg will receive an artistic commemoration courtesy of acclaimed artist Angie Mattson.

Mattson is the winner of the Seghesio Family Vineyards’ recent online Anniversary Mural Contest, and her design, “Night in Zinfandel,” won out over hundreds of entries submitted by artists from across the country. Mattson will turn her design into a large-scale art mural at the tasting room later this year.

Mattson’s design is a monochromatic illustration of grape-picking with symbols of nature interwoven throughout. She says it reflects the people, places and values of Seghesio Family Vineyards.

“Since Seghesio is so well-known for Zinfandel, I did a lot of research to get the shape of the leaves and the grapes just right,” Mattson says in a statement. “I also did a lot of research into the flavors of Zinfandel and tried to incorporate those elements into the design. I love the idea that wine is influenced by the land it comes from—the mountains and the sea, the wild herbs, flowers, and plants that grow in and around a vineyard. I wanted to capture the way it feels when you’re in a vineyard and especially at night under the stars when it’s very peaceful but there is still a lot happening—that’s when the animals are coming out and there is some mischief.”

Seghesio Family Vineyards launched the online mural contest in April, and received over 100 submissions from artists of all backgrounds. The entries were viewable online, and visitors were encouraged to comment on their favorite designs, with each comment counting as a vote. The votes were considered when choosing the finalists, along with input from a panel assembled by Seghesio Family Vineyards.

“We were humbled by the outpouring of interest by talented artists across the country who desired to participate in our 125th-anniversary celebration with a mural design inspired by Seghesio’s incredible wines and story,” Stephanie Wycoff, estate director of Seghesio Family Vineyards, says in a statement. “There were many stunning designs, but Angie Mattson’s submission was visually striking and captured the essence of our charm and history with many thoughtful details.”

Contest finalists included acclaimed artists such as Amanda Lynn for her design, “Taste of Life,” Monica Tiulescu for her design, “Zen of Zin,” ELLE for her submission “Vineyards Poetry” and Kimberly Yaeger for her unnamed design. All works can be viewed on the contest website.

Mattson, who also goes by her artist moniker Uto X, is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her art has increasingly been defined as a minimalist folk-art style for the past several years. Also a musician, Mattson began making art by designing merchandise for her band, In The Valley Below, splitting her creative time between music and visual art inspired by her life on the road.

The Seghesio family has been a part of the North Bay’s wine culture ever since Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley in 1895. Today, the winery’s 400 acres of vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys produce award-winning Zinfandel and Italian varietals under the direction of winemaker Ted Seghesio.

Due to Covid-19 health and safety restrictions, Seghesio Family Vineyards’s tasting room in Healdsburg is currently opening up its adjacent grove for outdoor wine tastings Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are required and are available on
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Friday, July 17, 2020

Art Heads Outdoors in Sonoma

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 9:53 AM


Soon after shelter-in-place orders went into effect in March due to Covid-19, several arts groups in the Sonoma region joined forces to form the Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force, a Justice League for the arts that aims to support artists and connect the community while large group gatherings remain impossible.

In May, the task force initially set about creating at-home art projects the community could easily participate in. Soon after, the group installed its first public art offering, 22 large-scale artist-designed hearts in front of Sonoma City Hall.

Now, the task force is unveiling its largest project yet; a community-wide self-guided art tour, the Summer Arts Stroll, beginning on July 25.

Sponsored by the City of Sonoma and Sonoma Plein Air Foundation, the Summer Arts Stroll will feature art on display in storefront windows, in public areas or outdoor areas, and at residences and studios, where the art will be visible from the sidewalk.

“We took inspiration from the Sonoma Art Walk’s First Thursday series where artists are paired with businesses, and with the help of our community partners, adapted the concept to meet Covid-19 health and safety requirements,” Kala Stein, director of ceramics & arts at Sonoma Community Center, says in a statement. “This self-guided experience will bring art to the public eye throughout the Valley while connecting businesses with local artists and creative youth. We truly believe that art and art making are essential to the quality of life, especially now.”

Beyond the role that art plays in maintaining the community’s quality of life, it is also the source of income for many of the North Bay’s working artists. The pandemic and resulting shelter-in-place orders have had a notable impact on artists. With many venues closed or operating with limited capacity and the cancellation of summer art fairs and events, it is estimated that 95 percent of artists have lost income.

“It’s no secret that artists, like businesses, have faced unprecedented challenges and loss of revenue due to the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders,” Mark Bodenhamer, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, says in a statement. “The Summer Arts Stroll is a win-win for artists and businesses; artists get new venues to show and potentially sell their work, and businesses get increased visibility and foot traffic.”

When the self-guided Summer Arts Stroll opens on July 25, patrons will find an interactive virtual map on the City of Sonoma’s website, complete with emblems identifying exhibits of interest. All are invited to take part in the Summer Arts Stroll, though patrons are advised to maintain the required six feet of physical distance from others and wear a facial covering when physical distance cannot be maintained.

The Summer Arts Stroll, as well as the hearts installation and the at-home art prompts are all part of the task force’s Sonoma Valley–wide “Heart of Sonoma” community art project, which the task force launched to help connect those sheltering-at-home during the pandemic and to provide opportunities for meaningful creative expression for the Sonoma Valley community.

The City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Art Escape and the Chamber of Commerce developed the Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force, which quickly grew to over 24 nonprofits throughout Sonoma Valley. While it was primarily formed to support the community during shelter-in-place orders, the Task Force continues to evolve and respond to the needs of the Sonoma Valley community during the pandemic.

Co-chairs of the task force, Connie Schlelein and Kala Stein, write in a statement that they, “are hopeful that everyone in the community will be inspired to get involved in heartfelt displays of creativity. Whether it is an expression of appreciation for the work of first responders or essential workers, or just an expression of joy or change, positive messages will provide strength for our community as we continue to navigate these trying times.”

The Summer Arts Stroll begins Saturday, July 25 and will be on display throughout Sonoma until August 31. Maps and details will be available soon at
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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lucy Liu Talks to You in Virtual Art Tour

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 9:04 AM

Actor and artist Lucy Liu visits her exhibit at the Napa Valley Museum in February. - LOWELL DOWNEY
  • Lowell Downey
  • Actor and artist Lucy Liu visits her exhibit at the Napa Valley Museum in February.

Award-winning actress, director, social justice advocate and artist Lucy Liu was in Yountville last February to celebrate her first U.S. solo art exhibition, “Lucy Liu: One of These Things Is Not Like The Others,” at the Napa Valley Museum.

Best known for roles in films like Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill, Liu is now making waves in the art world with large-scale and deeply personal works such as erotic Japanese "shunga" woodblocks and paintings, embroidered art, found-object sculptures and silkscreens featuring bold designs and even bolder subject matter.

"We wanted to showcase women who were doing something extraordinary," Napa Valley Museum Executive Director Laura Rafaty said in February when the exhibit opened. "Lucy's work is very intimate, in some ways shockingly so. It's emotional, it wants you to challenge cultural and gender stereotypes and I think people are going to find it thrilling to see."

All of these impressive works of art were on display at the Napa Valley Museum until the Covid-19 pandemic shut the museum’s doors in mid-March.

While other venues in Napa County have begun opening back up, Napa Valley Museum is still shut to the public, due in part to the fact that the museum sits on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California. In the meantime, the museum has put together a virtual art tour of Liu’s exhibit, available now online.

The interactive 3D online tour of “Lucy Liu: One of These Things Is Not Like The Others” allows visitors to virtually walk through the museum’s gallery as if they were there in-person.

The tour includes a special message from Liu welcoming visitors to the exhibition and explaining the meaning behind her deeply personal works of art.

The virtual tour is a fundraiser to help the museum reopen its galleries. Reopening is tentatively scheduled for August 1, and the “Lucy Liu” exhibition will be extended through September.

“We are thrilled to give Lucy’s fans all around the world the opportunity to see her extraordinary artwork through this virtual exhibition at the Napa Valley Museum Yountville,” says Rafaty in a new statement. “Lucy has been wonderfully generous in allowing us to extend the exhibition through September and in granting permission for this tour, which preserves this first U.S. museum exhibition of Lucy’s work.”

In addition to Liu’s wood sculptures and oversized paintings, the virtual tour showcases works from her “Totem” series, in which intricate embroidered “spines” are fashioned from fabric, paper and thread. Also on display are examples of her silkscreens, and artworks from her “Lost & Found” series, in which found objects are incorporated into books, which become works of art themselves.

The virtual tour also features videos of Liu working in her studio and talking about her art to provide additional insight into her process and inspiration. Throughout the tour, visitors can see the large-scale works up close by clicking on the artworks.

The exhibition also features videos displaying the creation process behind her silkscreens and found object series, and it incorporates an example of a traditional Japanese Shunga hand scroll like those that inspired Liu’s woodblocks, provided by San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

“I’m so happy to collaborate with the Napa Valley Museum and to share my work with the community,” Lucy Liu says in a statement about the exhibition. “Art has been an important part of my life and development since I was a child; it helps cultivate imagination and also fosters critical thinking skills. Supporting lifelong arts education is imperative and I am thrilled to be a part of this important endeavor.“
Lucy Liu stands in front of her large-scale painting, "Hunger." - LOWELL DOWNEY
  • Lowell Downey
  • Lucy Liu stands in front of her large-scale painting, "Hunger."

To view the virtual tour, visitors are asked to make a suggested donation of $5 to help the museum make health and safety improvements to the galleries to combat Covid-19.

Due to the exhibit’s adult subject matter, Napa Valley Museum recommends that those under 18 get parental permissions to visit the exhibit virtually.

Napa Valley Museum is also offering a free virtual tour of it’s other current exhibition, “Not From Around Here,” its fourth annual youth art show presented in partnership with Napa’s Justin-Siena High School visual arts department.

Nearly 30 student artists are participating in this year’s online exhibit, representing Justin-Siena High School, Vintage High School, The Oxbow School, Saint Helena High School, Marin Catholic High School and Novato High/Marin School of the Arts.
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Monday, July 13, 2020

Meet a ‘Calistogan’ at Napa Valley Art Exhibit

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 2:45 PM

Joyce and Steve Torrigino pose in front of their home on Lake Street in Calistoga. - CLARK JAMES MISHLER
  • Clark James Mishler
  • Joyce and Steve Torrigino pose in front of their home on Lake Street in Calistoga.

Since moving to Calistoga in 2015, editorial photographer Clark James Mishler has taken hundreds of photo portraits as part of an ongoing “Portrait a Day” project that appears in the Calistoga Tribune’s weekly column “Who We Are.” Some of the photos are funny, some are poignant and all are uniquely “Calistogan.”

In March of this year, Mishler collected several of these photo portraits in a major exhibition at Calistoga’s Sofie Contemporary Arts. That show opened on March 8, and featured hundreds of portraits of locals grouped into categories such as At Work, At Home, Individuals, Family, Friends, Artists and Best Friends—which highlights Calistoga residents with their family dogs.

Like other venues in the region, Sofie Contemporary Arts was forced to close its doors as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the North Bay to shelter-in-place, and the exhibit was shuttered in mid-March. Nearly four months later, Napa County’s restrictions have eased, and Sofie Contemporary Arts is able to welcome back visitors for a new opportunity to see these portraits and to meet Mishler.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 18–19, Sofie Contemporary Arts hosts a “Meet the Artist” weekend, with the “Calistogans” exhibit on display and Mishler on-hand to answer questions and share stories about the scores of people who live or work in or near Calistoga.

Because of the very limited access to the exhibit, the gallery is offering a 40-percent discount this weekend to multiple purchases of the works. Increased sanitation measures are being implemented and all protocols for safety, including face coverings and social distancing, are required.

Video producer and care taker Gary Feller and his dog, Zoe, tend to his neighbor’s horses and mule who graze on the 165 acres of land he oversees above Calistoga. - CLARK JAMES MISHLER
  • Clark James Mishler
  • Video producer and care taker Gary Feller and his dog, Zoe, tend to his neighbor’s horses and mule who graze on the 165 acres of land he oversees above Calistoga.

“The ‘Calistogans’ series is beautifully photographed and its technical and formal artistic elements are extremely satisfying, but Mishler also reveals the subjects and their surroundings in the most sensitive, authentic and appealing way,” Jan Sofie, gallery director and exhibit curator, says in a statement. “Some are quite funny and many extremely poignant, but the best part for me is that although the portraits depict simple moments and commonplace aspects of life we are all familiar with, they are also so intensely human, the viewer can’t help but be moved.”

The unframed works are installed clipped onto tiered wires, in their related groups. Sofie says this contemporary approach creates an accessible exhibition that both visitors and locals will appreciate.

“The idea here is that Calistoga is both exceptional and comfortable in itself,” Sofie says. “We wanted the exhibition structure and shape to communicate the sense of our strong, honest and beautifully diverse community that Mr. Mishler so deftly portrays.”

Before moving to Calistoga in 2015, Mishler spent several years in Alaska. In 1970, he first worked with a documentary film crew specializing in community development in the lower Yukon delta. In 1977, he took the job as layout editor at the National Geographic Magazine in Washington, D.C., though he soon returned to Alaska in 1979 and became a freelance editorial photographer, a profession he continues to practice and enjoy today.

St Helena resident Sarah Schaefer and her dog, June, attend the Victorian estate sale at the Pink Mansion in Calistoga. - CLARK JAMES MISHLER
  • Clark James Mishler
  • St Helena resident Sarah Schaefer and her dog, June, attend the Victorian estate sale at the Pink Mansion in Calistoga.

Mishler’s “Portrait a Day” project also dates back to his time in Anchorage, Alaska, and he kept the project going on his first day in Calistoga in 2015. Mishler says that photographing those who live and work in Calistoga has made the transition smoother and greatly helped the couple assimilate into the community and meet many new friends.

“Beyond that, I think that these portraits in the Tribune have helped all of us better know our neighbors and, in some cases, made it easier for us to reach out across social, economic and cultural lines,” he says.

“I think the best reason for making a portrait every day is that it keeps me on my toes, gets me out the door and has taught me to be a better photographer,” Mishler says. “Most of all, I love meeting the people of Calistoga while documenting who we are at this time and in this place. I just hope to continue the project as long as I’m able to hold a camera in my hands.”

‘Calistogans’ displays with Mishler present on Saturday and Sunday, July 18–19, at Sofie Contemporary Arts, 1407 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga. 12:30–4:30pm each day. 707.942.4231.
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Thursday, July 2, 2020

‘Peanuts’ Gang Goes Back on Display This Month in Sonoma County

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 2:11 PM


UPDATE (JULY 13): After a brief reopening last week, the Schulz Museum is temporarily closed again due to the latest state and county COVID-19 safety orders. The museum will be closed through August 2, and until further notice thereafter.
Fans of the  “Peanuts” comic strips have something to look forward to this summer, as the popular Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, July 8.

Following guidance from the State of California and the County of Sonoma as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Charles M Schulz Museum will reopen with several Covid-19 safety measures in place to provide a safe, low-risk environment for all visitors and staff. When the doors open, the public is invited to view several new features, including new exhibitions and a selection of rarely seen items from the Museum’s archives.

“In this time of daily unease, we are grateful to be reopening our doors and providing a place for people to have a joyful escape,” said Jean Schulz, widow of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz and museum board president, in a statement. “I think we could all use some good cheer right now.”

The museum closed its doors to the public on March 16 when Sonoma County issued the shelter in place order in accordance with the state’s efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19. That sheltering order is now eased for indoor museums in Sonoma County allowing them to reopen with safety guidelines in place.

As such, the Charles M Schulz Museum is implementing policies such as requiring visitors wear face coverings and maintain social distancing rules that will be denoted in the museum’s high-traffic areas by Snoopy paw prints on the floor.

Current exhibitions at the museum include “Lucy! Fussbudget to Feminist,” the first exhibition to focus exclusively on “Peanuts” character Lucy, and which opened just one day before the museum’s temporary closure. Also on view is “Greetings, Charlie Brown! The Peanuts-Hallmark Connection” and a new exhibition, “Girl Power in Peanuts,” that opens at the end of July.

The Charles M Schulz Museum also hints that a new addition is also on the way and will be revealed in mid-July in the museum’s Biographical Gallery. For now, the museum is only saying that four large cases with built-in drawers will be installed to allow more artwork, correspondence, and personal effects from Charles Schulz to be shared with the public.

“We’re taking this opportunity to curate the cases from scratch,” museum curator Benjamin L. Clark said in a statement. “In the nearly 20 years since the museum opened, new objects, stories, and information have come to light, giving us a better understanding and a more complete view of Charles Schulz. These updated cases will reflect our best and latest research in a way that we’re excited to share.”

The museum also reopens under new leadership, as outgoing museum director Karen Johnson recently announced her retirement after 15 years heading the institution. Gina Huntsinger, the current general manager of Snoopy’s Home Ice for the past three years and the Museum’s marketing director for 12 years prior, will be stepping into the role of director.

“While this is an unusual way to start my tenure as the museum’s director, I am so excited to return to my roots of celebrating the legacy of Charles Schulz and his art,” Huntsinger said in a statement. “During the temporary closure, the staff took the opportunity to deeply clean and revitalize the building. We are looking forward to welcoming the public back and sharing some laughs—even if under the cover of our masks!”

For those who are high-risk for Covid-19, or limiting travel and out-of-house activities, the museum has also increased its online offerings, including a ‘Schulz Museum at Home’ webpage full of free resources and activities to enjoy from home.

The museum has also introduced online art and cartooning classes for kids, teens and adults that allows students to join artist instructors virtually from many different locations and time zones. Those classes include a new “Peanuts” live drawing series led by staff artists that continues with a class on “How to Draw Woodstock” on July 13 and “How to Draw Snoopy” on August 10. In addition, the museum hosts an online panel discussion on July 27 on the topic of “Exploring Intersectional Identities Through Queer Comics.”

“This fall marks the 70th anniversary of Peanuts,” Huntsinger said in her statement. “Whether you join us in person or online, we invite you to connect with Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the 'Peanuts' gang and see why this comic strip has endured for so many generations.”

The Charles M Schulz Museum reopens, Wednesday, July 8. For more information on hours and safety protocols, visit
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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Surreal Santa Rosa Art Show Looks at the Occult in America

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 5:06 PM

Columbia, the little-known symbol of early America, is examined in the virtual "Occulture" art show.
  • Columbia, the little-known symbol of early America, is examined in the virtual "Occulture" art show.

It may sound supernatural, but the Occult is very much a real movement that fits in somewhere between religion and science. It's a term that came about 500 years ago when people began practicing astrology and alchemy, and it became a belief system in natural magic that made land in the earliest days of America.

Santa Rosa artist Cade Burkhammer is a student of the Occult in America, and he’s traced its movements and influences in his artwork. Best known as the creator and artist of the Wise Fool Tarot Card set, Burkhammer now turns his attention to American mysteries in a new solo virtual exhibition, “Occulture.”

The art show features 30 new paintings and drawings inspired by America’s history of Occult practices and the country's modern day problem with Kleptocracy and environmental peril. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the exhibit will be available to view virtually on YouTube beginning Saturday, July 4.

Originally from Ohio, Burkhammer traveled the country as a young man, living in New York City and Austin, Texas, before moving to San Francisco in 2000. More recently, Burkhammer got married and moved to Santa Rosa. He also artistically moved into the Backstreet Gallery & Studios in Santa Rosa’s South of A (SOFA) Arts District near Juilliard Park.

As an artist, Burkhammer is interested telling stories that incorporate Surrealism and Symbolism in his work.

"I appreciate Narrative art, and I think Surrealism and Symbolism are very narrative and creative, very imaginative," he says. "And I like the history of them, the way that Symbolism was a response to the industrial revolution and World War One, and they went back to the ancient Greek mythologies for their inspirations. The Surrealists and Dadaists did something similar during World War Two, but they added political and spiritual ideals to it."

Picking up where those artists left off, Burkhammer is interested in creating a new art movement that addresses technology, wealth and social class disparities and the climate crisis.

"I want to bring back the narrative interaction with the audience," he says. "Kind of mix the imaginative with the facts of what’s going on right now."

Before this current “Occulture” project, Burkhammer spent 15 years creating his Wise Fool Tarot Deck, which was released in 2017.

"I had to do about 80 paintings for that," he says. "I mostly worked on it in my free time, and spent a lot of time researching it as well as raising funds to print it."

For those who don’t know, tarot cards are much like playing cards, but instead of Kings and Queens, the cards illustrate figures like magicians, emperors, stars, moons and even Death itself. In the Occult world, tarot cards are seen as tools for divination such as predicting the future or answering secret personal questions.

After completing his own Wise Fool Tarot Card deck, Burkhammer also did the illustrations for a new version of a deck created by renowned writer RJ Stewart called the Dreampower Tarot. Currently, Burkhammer is working on a set of oracle cards, which differs from tarot cards in that their meanings are more up to the interpretation of the artist.

"Oracle decks have less dogma to them," Burkhammer says. "This one is a Nightmare Oracle deck that’s saying that we are kind of living in a nightmare right now. The American dream is nightmarish right now."

Burkhammer’s “Occulture” exhibit is also a story of America, and his paintings on virtual display this weekend use ancient mythology to relate today’s problems to the mythological influences he has studied.

That mythology includes the Greek and Roman Furies, who ancients believed were goddesses of vengeance that punished men for crimes against nature. Burkhammer turns those ancient Furies into the “Furies of Industry,” depicting elements of Earth, fire, air and water that are being destroyed by modern society.
Artist Cade Burkhammer turns the element of air into a Fury of Industry in "Occulture," available to view online starting July 4.
  • Artist Cade Burkhammer turns the element of air into a Fury of Industry in "Occulture," available to view online starting July 4.

Burkhammer also depicts modern gods and goddesses such as Columbia, which was the feminized personification of the United States up until the Statue of Liberty and then Uncle Sam replaced her as symbols of American independence. Even today, Columbia can be seen as the logo for Columbia Pictures, and she is still the namesake of the country’s federal capital, the District of Columbia.

In this exhibit, these gods and goddesses are depicted as reminders of the United States' pre-Christian origins, such as the Freemasons who were among the country’s founding fathers. Burkhammer’s art also delves into environmental issues and tackles the modern-day cult of capitalism.

"As a Pagan, we worship the ground, the Earth as a living being, and I see our natural church being destroyed for unnecessary technology,” he says. “I think that’s another type of Occult that’s negative and dark."

Artistically, the paintings on display in Burkhammer’s show are a blend of photo-realism and expressionism that he developed over the years.

"To be recognized as an artist, you need something that’s either very traditional and acceptable or something that’s extraordinary and original," he says. "I didn’t want to do the traditional, so I’ve always gone towards being experimental."

Burkhammer’s experimental technique includes combining mixtures of latex and enamel paint to further juxtapose the styles of realism and expressionism in the subject mater. His process also finds him adding charcoal, graphite, ink or spray paint to his drawings.

Originally, Burkhammer was hoping to show “Occulture” in person, though with the shelter-in-place restrictions still happening and concerns of Covid-19 still spreading in the community; he is filming the work as it hangs in the hallway of Backstreet Gallery. “Occulture will be available to view as a virtual exhibit beginning Saturday, July 4. Visit Burkhammer’s YouTube page to see the show.
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Monday, June 29, 2020

Several North Bay Fall Events Already Planning Pandemic-Related Postponements

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 1:50 PM

The Gravenstein Apple Fair is one of many North Bay events canceling their plans this fall due to Covid-19.
  • The Gravenstein Apple Fair is one of many North Bay events canceling their plans this fall due to Covid-19.

Last March, Covid-19 forced California to cancel most social gatherings and events through the spring of 2020. Soon after, it was clear that summer 2020 would follow suit as fairs, festivals and other fun events were postponed or called off in the wake of the virus’s continued spread.

Now, autumn 2020 looks to suffer the same fate socially as the last two seasons. Many North Bay–based events and harvest celebrations are postponing their fall gatherings before July even begins, as Covid-19 continues to gain ground in the state and the Bay Area with increasing numbers of new cases each week.

In Sonoma County, fall traditionally begins prior to Labor Day—which is scheduled for Sept. 7 this year—as harvest-related events get rolling in August. One such event, now canceled, is Sebastopol’s popular Gravenstein Apple Fair.

Agricultural organization Farm Trails hosts the fundraising fair that celebrates the locally grown Gravenstein Apple. On the fair’s website, the Farm Trails team writes, “Though we can hardly imagine August in Sebastopol without the Apple Fair, we are fully on board with the County’s decision to cancel large gatherings. We are so grateful for the health care workers and first responders on the front lines and for all of the essential businesses (farmers/producers, nurseries, grocery store workers, postage and parcel services, etc.) who continue to sustain and support our lives during these unprecedented times. We are also appreciative of the sacrifices our entire community is making by staying at home to help flatten the curve.”

The fair organizers also note that Gravenstein apples will still be falling in Sonoma County this fall, and they hope to find ways to mark the occasion with virtual events or DIY activities.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that Farm Trails continues to make good on its mission to preserve farms forever in Sonoma County,” says Farm Trails Board President Vince Trotter, in a statement. “With our main fundraiser off the table, we’re certainly facing some financial challenges this year, but our farmers are fighting through this, and so will we. We’re cutting our expenses to the bone and looking at some creative ways to bring in revenue and make the 2021 fair better than ever.”

Other popular harvest and culinary events canceling their 2020 gatherings include the massive Taste of Sonoma wine-tasting extravaganza, the annual Heirloom Expo of food providers and enthusiasts best known for its giant pumpkin contest and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair’s Grand-Tasting and World Championship Grape Stomp Competition—though the Harvest Fair’s professional wine and food competitions will still be held remotely.

In Marin County, the arts are often a major part of the fall season, with festivals and fairs showcase both international and local artists and crafters.

One of Marin’s largest gatherings each fall is the Sausalito Art Festival, taking place on Labor Day weekend for more than 60 years. This year, the Sausalito Art Festival Foundation will pause production of this signature event due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and other current challenges associated with event production. On the festival’s website, the Foundation says it will plan a new iteration of the event “to meet a shifting arts and entertainment landscape.”

In addition to pandemic concerns, the Sausalito Art Festival Foundation writes that restrictions to access of the waterfront venue, competition for headlining musical talent and increased security costs and concerns are also factors in their decision to reimagine the event for 2021.

Another Marin fall staple, the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival, also recently announced its 2020 fest would be canceled due to Covid-19.

“For over sixty years our little festival has been a wonderful celebration of Mill Valley’s unique culture and community,” says festival executive director Steve Bajor, in a statement. “This year the responsibility to act prudently to ensure everyone’s safety is our top priority. Like so much we are missing, we are hopeful that the festival will return next year for us all to enjoy.”

Artists previously juried into the 2020 show will instead be featured on the festival’s website and will be invited to show their work in person at the next event, now scheduled for Sept. 18 and 19, 2021, in Old Mill Park.

Other fall arts events in the North Bay forgoing 2020 include Open Studios Napa Valley’s self-guided art tours, usually planned for two weekends in September, and the Sonoma County Art Trails, normally scheduled for two weekends in October. Still other major events canceled this fall include the Sound Summit music festival that celebrates Mount Tamalpais State Park each September at the historic Mountain Theater, and the Napa Valley Film Festival that was slated to happen in November.

“We appreciate the tremendous support and well wishes from our community during these uncertain times,” said Cinema Napa Valley Chairman Patrick Davila, in a statement. “Rest assured we will use this time to strengthen our commitment to our mission and develop new avenues to fulfill our vision. I look forward to seeing all of you in 2021 for our 10th year anniversary.”
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Friday, June 26, 2020

Sonoma Puppeteers Produce PSA for Children During Pandemic

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2020 at 11:43 AM

Sonoma-based puppetry team Images In Motion Media Inc. is an Emmy Award–winning company that develops high-quality video content using puppetry to deliver impactful messages in an entertaining way.

Last month, the creative operation—co-owned by professional puppeteers Lee Armstrong, Kamela Portuges and Kieron Robbins—released its latest puppetry project, a funny and action-packed Public Service Announcement video, “Down the Drain With COVID-19,” that educates children on proper hand-washing techniques to fight the spread of the virus.

“Puppets are a powerful visual tool to convey messages in memorable ways,” Armstrong said, in a statement. “And that’s what we strive to achieve. We hope this PSA will have a useful life as the pandemic changes the way we live. The visuals are aimed at children, to help them see why hand washing is so important. However, it has made me more mindful of using soap and doing the full 20 seconds. We hope people will view and share this important PSA message. ”

“Down the Drain With COVID-19 PSA” is available in both English (closed caption) and with Spanish subtitles, and was created for the Sonoma County Safety PALS, part of the Sonoma County Fire Chiefs and Prevention Officers Association. Safety PALS has a long history of educating children on fire and safety topics in the form of live performances and events, though PALS has been largely dormant since the 2017 North Bay wildfires. Now, with the pandemic developments, PALS felt it was time to connect with local youth once again, and sponsored the PSA video in lieu of hosting in-person performances.

The IIM team wrote the PSA script based on CDC hand-washing guidelines, and the plot of the PSA is simple and effective. Kids are introduced to a narcissistic, on-the-loose Covid-19 virus puppet that is ultimately defeated by a clever child at a sink, using soap and water.

The Covid-19 puppet was 3D modeled and printed by IIM before being molded in silicon, cast in pillow foam and painted. With the help of a local videographer, who filmed his daughter washing her hands, the IIM team shot the puppet on green screen and edited it into the hand-washing footage. The film crew that shot the live-action footage observed social distancing, wore masks and gloves and used sanitized equipment.

IIM provides full pre-to-post production, including a shooting studio and experienced TV puppetry crew, with other related services such as 3D design, modeling and printing, sculpting, props and puppet sets.

Lee Armstrong started out as a TV puppeteer for Jim Henson’s “Fraggle Rock”; her credits include the films Being John Malkovich, MonkeyBone and Follow That Bird. Her commercial credits include AXE, Best Buy, Mercedes Benz and Round Table Pizza, and she is the recipient of two Regional Emmys as a producer, writer and puppeteer.

Kamela Portuges started work as a special-effects artist on The Fly 2 before signing on at IIM. Her TV and film credits include James and the Giant Peach, Bicentennial Man and Life Aquatic as well as MonkeyBone and Being John Malkovich.

Kieron Robbins co-designs and builds TV puppet sets for award-winning productions and does sculpture, graphic arts and animation, recently moving into the world of 3D printing. His work has played a key role in videos that have earned awards from the National Ad Council, the Telly Awards, Parent’s Choice, DOVE and KidsFirst.

Currently, a number of North Bay groups including KRCB and the Sonoma County Board of Education are airing “Down the Drain With COVID-19 PSA,” and the video can be viewed now by clicking below.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Salvador Dalí Exhibit Debuts in Sonoma

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 1:09 PM

“Flordali I” by Salvador Dalí. Credit to editor W.U.C.U.A. Jean P. Schneider.
  • “Flordali I” by Salvador Dalí. Credit to editor W.U.C.U.A. Jean P. Schneider.

Salvador Dalí is best known for painting surrealist works featuring melting clocks and long-legged elephants, though the multi-faceted and famously mustachioed artist was also a sculptor, filmmaker and wine connoisseur among other talents.

Dalí even wrote a book on the subject of wine, 1977’s The Wines of Gala, an eccentric guide that features California wine as one of the “Ten Divine Wines” of the world. Throughout his life, Dalí connected wine with art and other emotional experiences, and is credited with saying, “A real connoisseur does not drink wine but tastes of its secrets.”

Now, wine and Dalí come together once again as Wine Country becomes the setting for a new exhibit of the iconic artist’s prints and sculptures, presented in collaboration with The Dalí Universe­—one of the largest private collections of Dalí artworks in the world—and SBHG Gallery at Cornerstone Sonoma.

“The Dalí Universe­” exhibit opens Friday, June 26, and runs through August at the Cornerstone Sonoma outdoor marketplace. The showings run 11am to 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and curator Bertrand Epaud will be in town through the first week of the exhibit to offer expert insight into the artworks. Individual pieces are also available for private viewings that can be scheduled by appointment Mondays through Thursdays.

“We are honored to house this stunning collection from the undisputed master of Surrealism, Salvador Dalí,” said Karin Rogers, director of business development at the collective Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group, which runs Cornerstone’s SBHG Gallery. “Dalí’s thought-provoking works feel rather suited to the surreal times in which we are living, and we look forward to sharing these pieces with the Bay Area and our local community.”

The exhibit will display eight of Dalí’s surrealist prints and will include a collection of nine of his bronze sculptures, which are a previously unknown aspect of Dalí’s work. In addition to painting and writing, Dalí was fascinated by the medium of sculpture, and he created original models and designs that were made into surreal objects based on the subjects in his paintings, such as the melting clocks of his painting “The Persistence of Memory,” and the recurring elephants that appear in works such as the painting “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening.”
“Triumphant Elephant” Copyright ©IAR Art Resources.
  • “Triumphant Elephant” Copyright ©IAR Art Resources.

For more than 40 years, Beniamino Levi, an Italian art dealer and collector who worked with Dalí during the 1960s, has headed The Dalí Universe collection of art. Fascinated by Dalí’s ability to use different mediums, Levi began collecting Dalí art and sculpture when he opened Galleria Levi in Milan in 1955. The Dalí Universe’s flagship exhibition space is located in Paris, France, though the company tours and loans Dalí artworks to over one hundred prestigious museums and locations worldwide.

Cornerstone Sonoma’s expansive outdoor marketplace includes many independently owned retail shops and wineries, a distillery and a restaurant. The Cornerstone property also includes art-inspired gardens, event venues and the Sunset Gardens & Outdoor Test Kitchen, where gourmet food and wine pairings will be available for purchase and served by Sonoma-based Ramekins Culinary School while the exhibit displays Fridays through Sundays.

Cornerstone Sonoma and the SBHG Gallery will observe strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines in conjunction with Sonoma County’s most current Covid-19 safety measures. Additionally, many of the marketplace's tenant vendors have updated their services and hours during the COVID-19 outbreak and are taking extra precautions to insure the safety of the community.

‘The Dalí Universe’ is on display Fridays–Sundays, Jun 26–August 30, at Cornerstone Sonoma, 23570 Arnold Dr. in Sonoma. 11am to 5pm. Free admission. For more information, visit
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