Friday, April 3, 2020

Explore the Museum of Sonoma County in a Virtual Escape Room

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 11:01 AM

The storage area under the historic 1910 Santa Rosa Post Office building is home to Museum of Sonoma County's massive permanent collection.
  • The storage area under the historic 1910 Santa Rosa Post Office building is home to Museum of Sonoma County's massive permanent collection.
Though the Museum of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa is currently closed to support the local efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, it continues to engage the public with online content including an online coloring book and digital records of its permanent collection of historical Sonoma County artifacts and art.

But, just when you think it’s safe to virtually delve into the museum’s collection, located in the storage area under the historic 1910 Santa Rosa Post Office building, the door closes and locks behind you! There’s only one way out in the Museum of Sonoma County’s Virtual Escape Room—discover local art and history while you search for clues to get the key to the locked door.

Get up close and personal as you search through objects including a purse made by a Miwok woman out of gold-miner bootlaces in 1895, or the painting “Daughter and Cat” by Marguerite Wildenhain, the renowned potter from Pond Farm in Guerneville.

After you’ve made your escape, view more items from the Museum of Sonoma County’s extensive collection or travel back in time with videos like this one about the Historic 1910 Santa Rosa Post Office, narrated by Peter Coyote.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Online Gallery Calls for Sonoma County Stay-at-Home Art

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 12:58 PM


Now that orders in Sonoma County are to stay at home through April due to the coronavirus outbreak, more and more events and gatherings are moving online in an attempt to keep the community connected while individuals remain isolated.

Bill Shelley and Chris Beards, co-founders of Blasted Art Gallery, are hosting an online art exhibit to do just that, and inviting Sonoma County artists currently under sheltering orders to contribute to the upcoming exhibit, "Sonoma County: Flattening the Curve."

The online-only exhibit is meant for artists to share their creative reflections and responses to the stay-at-home order, COVID-19, or related concepts. "There are no wrong responses to this historic event if they are honest," Shelley and Beards state in their call for art. "Show us what you’re thinking and feeling!"

The one requirement is that the work must have been made since Sonoma County’s stay-at-home order began. Submissions are due April 12.

"Sonoma County: Flattening the Curve" opens with an online reception that will take place on Friday, April 17th, at 7pm on Blasted Art Gallery’s Facebook page.

Click here to read the call for art, or watch the video below.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Homebound Artists Are Creating Pet Portraits During Shelter-In-Place

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2020 at 9:41 AM

While the North Bay continues to endure a sheltering-in-place order to stop the spread of coronavirus, many folks are hunkered down and self-isolating with their best friends; their dogs, cats and other pets.

Now, you can celebrate your furry friend with a pet portrait created by a local artist as part of a fundraising campaign by Sonoma Valley nonprofit animal shelter Pets Lifeline.

For a $20 donation, Pets Lifeline will commission a participating artist to turn a photo of your pet into a work of art. Pets Lifeline notes that it’s luck of the draw, with the array of artists ranging from accomplished painters who exhibit at SVMA to a third grader at Sassarini. You can commission more than one piece of art.

“I am wowed by the creativity and talent of the artists,” said Pets Lifeline Executive Director Nancy King. “I hope this project will bring some joy to both artist and pet owners during this challenging time.”

Go to to see already-completed portraits, and sign up for your own. Artists can also still sign up to participate in the project.
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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Virtual Events Spread During North Bay Shelter-in-Place

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 11:56 AM


Public gatherings continue to be cancelled and postponed with the current Shelter-in-Place orders covering Sonoma, Marin and Napa County. In the face of ongoing social distancing, many venues, artists and organizations are starting to bring their events into your home with online gatherings.

The Alexander Valley Film Society is sheltering in place with movies, and welcomes the public to sit in on a special remote viewing party. First, AV Film Society encourages cinephiles to go to Amazon Prime and watch the 2015 dramedy "The Week," about a washed-up television host who spends seven days boozing and self-reflecting after his wife leaves him on the eve of their 10-year anniversary.

"The Week" was filmed at multiple locations in and throughout Sonoma County, including Cloverdale's historic Owl Cafe and Healdsburg's Passalacqua Winery. It also won the 2015 Sonoma International Film Festival Audience Award.

On Sunday, March 22, AV Film Society Executive Director Kathryn Hecht hosts an online Q&A with Rick Gomez, writer and star of "The Week,"  and Jenny Gomez, who produced the film. Watch the movie first and register for the online discussion here.

In Petaluma, the Rivertown Poets have long held a monthly "A-Muse-ing Mondays" poetry reading and open mic at Aqus Cafe. Now the poetry goes online with Rivertown's first ever Virtual Poetry Reading and Open Mic. Mark your calendars for Monday, March 23rd, at 6:15 pm. Those who wish to read their three-minute-or-less poem can do so over the stream, and others can sit back and enjoy from the comfort of their own home.

Live music venues were one of the first public spaces to close in the wake of coronavirus concerns, and it looks like live concerts won’t be coming back to the North Bay for a couple weeks. For music lovers who need to scratch that live experience itch, longtime Cotati institution Redwood Café, which live streams all of its concerts, is re-broadcasting "The Best of The Redwood Cafe Live" with special streaming events each evening. Visit the venue online to see the shows each night, or simply browse the video archive on Redwood Cafe's Facebook page.

The Museum of Sonoma County is currently closed to support the local efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Yet, the museum boasts an online database of its permanent collection of historical objects and artwork that is searchable by subject and topic. There’s also a lot of YouTube videos on the museum’s website exploring recent exhibits like the “From Suffrage to #MeToo: Groundbreaking Women in Sonoma County.” Finally, the kids (and adults) will enjoy the museum’s “Color Me Sonoma” downloadable coloring book featuring iconic Sonoma County sites and fun local history.
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Friday, February 1, 2019

Sonoma State University Shares 'Art from the Heart'

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 1:18 PM

Having just marked four decades of engaging the community with exhibits and educational opportunities, Sonoma State University’s University Art Gallery continues to act as a vital resource and cultural center in the North Bay.

This weekend, the gallery hosts another exciting evening of art, food, wine and music at it's 35th annual Art from the Heart benefit auction. 

One of the oldest continually-held fundraising events in the area and an essential evening for novice and seasoned art collectors alike, Art from the Heart is highlighted by a silent auction featuring modestly-priced original works by more than 160 artists, as well as a performance by Dave Getz and delectable bites and beverages on hand.

Fall in love at Art from the Heart 2019 on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the University Art Gallery, Sonoma State, 1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 6pm to 9pm. $25 suggested donation. 707.664.2295.
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Stairwell Video Revives Lost VHS Rental Experience in Petaluma

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 2:01 PM

Kids may find this hard to believe, but before the days of online streaming services like Netflix, people who wanted to watch a movie in their home had to drive to what they called a "Video Rental Store." These stores contained hundreds of movies, held on giant black bricks called VHS tapes. Once a VHS was selected, the movie was brought home and watched on a colossal machine known as the VCR.

Crazy, right? Yet, we all did it, night after night. It was an American institution. We loved browsing the outrageous box art, turning the case over in our hand to read the information on the back and taking our selections to the front counter to rent the VHS of our choice for two-to-five days at a time.

Today, there are still a few movie rental shops like Video Droid and Joe Video in business, but they deal in Blu-ray and DVD formats. In fact, the last VHS movie release, "A History of Violence," is ten years old and the last VCR-producing company in the world is set to shut its VCR-machine division down this month, meaning the format will officially become obsolete; a relic of a brief, yet glorious, time in film history.

This week, in honor of the end of the VCR, local conceptual artists Daedalus Howell and Karen Hell are hosting the nostalgic interactive art installation Stairwell Video, on Friday, July 29, in downtown Petaluma.

Located inside the stairwell of a century-old Victorian house, Stairwell Video faithfully recreates the '80s VHS rental experience for one night only. Participants will get a store membership card, select a video and rent their movie. Limited edition "Stairwell Video" t-shirts and a popcorn and Champagne reception are also part of the night, never to be recreated again.

To reserve free tickets and receive location information, click here.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Museum Space Getting a Makeover

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Julia Davis work in progress on the Sonoma County Museum extension
  • Julia Davis' work in progress on the Sonoma County Museum extension

The Sonoma County Museum is putting its new building to good use. The former Conklin Brothers floor coverings store on the corner of Seventh and B streets in Santa Rosa is getting a makeover by three artists before it’s renovated into an art museum. Julia Davis, Carlos de Villasante and Judy Kennedy are painting the three sides of the building in graffiti style and should be finished by the end of this month, says Sonoma County Museum Executive Director Diane Evans. The paintings will remain in place through this year before they're replaced with another vision in similar style by different artists early next year.

The museum will eventually host exhibitions of international caliber in addition to selections from the museum’s existing collection, which includes an extensive group of work by Christo and Jeanne Claude. But while we wait, the museum has decided to show off the talent of local artists in a very public place.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When I Paint My Masterpiece

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 4:49 PM


"You know what? Screw it. I'm tired of painting at the beach. I'm tired of painting beautiful coastal sunsets. I'm tired of painting rolling golden hills, and lush green vineyards, and mountainside streams. I'm a Sonoma County painter, dammit, and I'm gonna paint a bunch of people waiting in line to drink beer."

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Death, Sex and Art in Sonoma

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 10:40 AM


Is the new Lawrence Ferlinghetti show at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art his last? Maybe so! At 93, the poet, publisher, bookstore owner (of City Lights), and painter clearly has death and dying on his mind. Or so his dazzling art, up now at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, suggests.

One of the most dramatic works on display, “The Golden Bird of Memory Attends Proust on his Deathbed,” depicts the last living moments of the famed French writer, Marcel Proust. Not just artists, but cities are also dying in Ferlinghetti’s phantasmagoric world. “Cross-Pollination” is the name of the show and it highlights the impact of poetry on art and art on poetry. It also shows the power of sex to influence both poetry and art. At 93, Ferlinghetti still has sex on the mind, and if viewers want to psychoanalyze him and his work, he doesn’t mind.

“Freud” depicts two naked figures: a black man with a white penis and a longhaired white woman, who look as though they’ve just had sex. But neither the museum’s executive director, Kate Eilertsen, nor the guest curator, Diane Roby, are playing up the sex and the death, but rather Ferlinghetti’s dedication to his medium, whether oils, acrylics, or pen and ink sketches from his notebooks. “In Ferlinghetti’s art words give rise to image-making, and word and image meld in paint,” Roby says.

“Cross-Pollination” offers a breathtaking introduction to Ferlinghetti’s life and work as a poet and as a painter that began in Paris in the 1940s. A recording of Ferlinghetti performing his poetry brings his voice to life. On display are his books, including The Coney Island of The Mind, which has sold more than one million copies since it was first published in 1955. English majors will get the literary references to James Joyce and T.S. Eliot’s anti-hero, J. Alfred Prufrock. Art majors will recognize Pablo Picasso. But you don’t have to know Eliot’s poetry or Picasso’s art to appreciate the work of the last of the original Bay Area bohemians. “Cross-Pollination” pays homage to an artist who won’t give up and who hasn’t called it quits. Locals have taken to staking out the museum, hoping for a glimpse of a genius just reaching his prime at 93.

Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, 551 Broadway, Sonoma, through September 23, 2012. Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5; free for students grades K-12 and for all visitors, Wednesdays. and (707) 939-7862.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

A Re'collection' of Napa's History

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 1:55 PM


Ensuring that we are not going to forget it, the Memory Bank returns again with a subsequent project, Memory Bank II, which will also run as an exhibition that will be displayed from Saturday, August 11 through Sunday, September 23 at the Napa Valley Museum. This community preservation project is an annual intensive endeavor by Preservation Napa Valley, a grass roots non-profit organization that seeks to proudly celebrate and raise awareness for the cultural heritage of Napa County.

Six professional photographers, including Jess Knubis and Suzanne Becker Bronk, and one filmmaker collaborated to capture the people and places of Napa. The photographs are reminiscent of Dorthea Lange’s work (“Migrant Mother,” shot during the Great Depression, is the photograph that we know best from her), just as beautiful, powerful, and captivating. The four short documentaries transport its audience to incredible locations during interviews of those that lived and worked in a Napa very different from today’s, offering viewers an inside scoop of Napa’s rich history.

Additionally during the time of exhibition, behind the scene talks, gathering, and events compliment Memory Bank II, including panels of those that worked on the project, the Memory Bank “Old Timers” that had been interviewed, and of the photographers that contributed.

The board members of Preservation Napa Valley are currently raising money to fund turning Memory Book II as a book and DVD, which will be available for a limited time. “Memory Bank is not pursuing nostalgia but asking us to see, feel and understand how this Valley came to be, to the place it is get beneath the golden shimmer into a long and fascinating heritage,” states Wendy Ward, director of the organization in their funding campaign site. “If we understand the past, we are richer for it and may perhaps see today and the future clearer.”

Memory Book II aims to capture the “true Napa, one reflective of all peoples” and this year, is focusing on the diverse cultures (among them, Chinese Japanese, Mexican, and European) that have come to Napa and shaped its evolution across generations. And while the photographs are in black and white, the images they hold will not be fading for long.

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