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 schulzmuseum.org.
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Derby Weekend in Petaluma Raises Funds for Redwood Empire Food Bank

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 9:15 AM

  • Alden Corrigan Media

Located on 15 acres in East Petaluma, Sonoma Valley Stables is the North Bay’s top spot for horses and their humans to train for the sport of Hunter/Jumper, also known as show jumping. Owner Ned Glynn and a world-class team of trainers teach a full range of riding and jumping programs that are customized for the horse and its rider.

In addition to training young riders in the North Bay, Sonoma Valley Stables has a history of giving back to the community with its annual Derby Weekend. Despite this year’s Covid-19 pandemic, the Stables was able to host its third annual Derby Weekend last Friday, June 26, to Sunday, June 28.

The event, which safely hosted 60 rider participants and their families over the course of three days, raised over $25,000 to support the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s “Every Child/Every Day Initiative” to end hunger in the community.

In the past three years, Sonoma Valley Stables has raised over $70,000 for Redwood Empire Food Bank by hosting the Derby Weekend event and receiving donations from sponsors.

“We are at a critical moment in time as we continue to innovate, adapt and expand our services,” Redwood Empire Food Bank CEO David Goodman said in a a statement. “The ongoing and generous support of our partners, like that of Sonoma Valley Stables, is imperative for us to keep up with the food demand this pandemic has brought on.”

Redwood Empire Food Bank's "Every Child/Every Day Initiative" is currently providing hot and healthy meals through the summer to the nearly 1,000 Sonoma County children who risk experiencing hunger over the summer months. The initiative will serve more than 41,000 hot and healthy meals this summer through August.

While planning for this year’s Derby Weekend, Sonoma Valley Stables was initially concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic would cancel the outdoor event, but Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt informed Glynn and the staff that the county would allow equestrian activities like Derby Weekend to take place.

“After careful consideration, we decided to move forward with hosting Derby Weekend this year,” Glynn said in a statement. “We believed this event would be beneficial for many during this challenging time, especially since our local food bank is working extra hard to meet the needs of our community right now. We took every effort to make sure the riders, attendees, and staff felt safe and comfortable throughout the entire event.”

To follow safety guidelines, Sonoma Valley Stables regularly disinfected the facility, placed hay bales eight-feet apart to ensure physical distancing, used a non-contact thermometer to check temperatures, and cancelled their Saturday evening party. ShadyLady Sun Protection, one of this year’s sponsors, also donated face coverings for participants to wear.

Derby Weekend started a few days early for most of the riders, as the Stables hosted a clinic with equestrian coach and event judge Cynthia Hankins. This clinic was an opportunity for the young participants to learn what judges look for during riding and jumping competitions to gain an edge in the Derby.

The official event kicked off on Friday, June 26, with morning Hunter classes, and the Hunter competitions continued through Saturday. Hunters-over-fences champions were Nico Alario and Chaparral's Hawkeye for the pony class, Aliana Ashburn and Educated Guess for the 2’0”, Aimee Lafayette and Gucci St. Anne for the 2’3”-2’6”, Amy Brubaker and Frascati for the Jr/Am 2’9”-3’0”, Kylee Arbuckle and Brown Sugar for the professional 2’9”-3’0”, Avery Glynn and Nostalgic for the Jr/Am 3’0”-3’3”, and Arbuckle and Opulence for the professional 3’0”-3’3”. MacLean Sennhenn and Franktown’s Heaven’s Sake took first for the Cross Rail Hunters. Francesca Mortensen and Well Said won the Walk-Trot over Poles competition.

On Sunday, June 28, four different derbies took place. Elsa Warnelius-Miller and Illumination won the 2’0” derby, Nico Alario and Chaparral’s Hawkeye was crowned champion of the pony derby, Lafayette and Gucci St. Anne came in first for the 2’6” derby, and to wrap up the weekend, Margaret Pogue and Edesa’s Iggy Pop took the victory for the 3’0” derby. Finally, Estaban La Paz was crowned this year’s Best Horse.

Sonoma Valley Stables plans to host Derby Weekend again next year. For more information on the facilities’ horses and trainings, visit Sonomavalleystables.com.
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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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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Drive-In Theaters Come Back to Life in the North Bay

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 4:26 PM

Alexander Valley Film Society hosted its first drive-in of the summer earlier this month in Cloverdale. - PHOTO BY PAUL JACKMAN | FUNFLICKS
  • Photo by Paul Jackman | FunFlicks
  • Alexander Valley Film Society hosted its first drive-in of the summer earlier this month in Cloverdale.

It’s been three months since movie theaters have been allowed to let patrons see a movie on the big screen. In the North Bay, cinemas have stayed closed since mid-March as the Covid-19 pandemic has the region under social distancing orders.

Even now, as restaurants, shops and other businesses start reopening to the public, public venues like movie theaters face a challenge in housing people in tight quarters and keeping their spaces sanitized and socially distant enough to meet the state and county orders that are in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

One way that theaters and event organizers have solved the problem of seeing movies while social distancing is the return of the classic drive-in movies. From Larkspur to St. Helena, makeshift drive-in theaters are becoming all the rage, showing classic blockbusters in spacious outdoor settings.

Drive-in theaters are as old as the automobile, with some form of outdoor car-centric film screenings dating back to the 1910s, though the drive-in had its hey day some sixty years ago when Baby Boomer families flocked to drive-ins in mostly suburban and rural areas.

There were drive-ins in the North Bay back in the day, most notably the Sonomarin (Midway) Drive-In Theatre that opened south of Petaluma in 1968 and ran until 1989. That drive-in famously showed mostly X-rated films after 1983 and was finally demolished in 1991.

Families in 2020 have no fear of coming across such scandalous movies in the new crop of drive-in theaters. Instead, this new wave of distance-conscious screenings is keeping the films family friendly and fun. Find the drive-in theater in your neighborhood with this guide.

In Napa County, the independent Cameo Cinema often presents first-run features and indie-film darlings on its one screen in St. Helena. In addition to offering on-demand at-home film streaming since the Covid-19 pandemic, Cameo Cinema is branching into the drive-in craze with the help of Gott's Roadside in St. Helena and owner Joel Gott, who agreed to host the Cameo Drive-in Movie Theater in Gott's back parking lot for a few weeks.

The Cameo Drive-In Theater is also made possible with a grant from the City of St. Helena and the support of the Chamber of Commerce and the Cameo Cinema Foundation.

The drive-in will feature a state-of-the-art, thirty-foot outdoor screen with 4K digital projection, and the family-friendly series opens this weekend and features two alternating films each weekend, Thursdays through Sundays.

For instance, this opening weekend features Jurassic Park screening Thursday and Saturday, June 25 and 27, with the recent Sonic the Hedgehog screening Friday and Sunday, June 26 and 28.

The classic and contemporary movie pairing continues next week, as Cameo Drive-In Theater features Wonder Woman and Jaws. Future weeks will see classics like E.T. and new films such as the Hulu original film Palm Springs playing as well.

Gott’s parking lot opens for the drive-ins at 8pm each night, and the Roadside will be available to serve pre-ordered food. Tickets to the Cameo Drive-In Theater is limited to 45 cars per screening. Tickets are $30 per car and must be purchased in advance.

In Sonoma County, Santa Rosa Cinemas–which operates theaters like the Roxy Stadium 14 and Airport Stadium 12–are collaborating with the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in a new series entitled Carpool Cinema.

The screenings take place at the LBC’s south parking lot, beginning at sunset. For the drive-in experience, the movie’s sound is pumped into the car through a FM signal on the radio. Like other drive-in screenings in the North Bay, the Carpool Cinema series is adhering to the strict social distance guidelines.

This week, Carpool Cinemas presents the classic ‘80s teen comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on Saturday, June 27. Next week, Carpool Cinemas plans to screen the Mel Brooks’ parody Spaceballs on Wednesday, July 1. Gates open at 7:45pm. General admission tickets are $30 per car, with a limit of two cars per household. Visit LBC’s website for more information and to purchase your spot in the carpool.

In North Sonoma County, the Alexander Valley Film Society is revisiting the drive-in days with its own outdoor screening series at the Citrus Fairgrounds in Cloverdale.

The society has already hosted throwback drive-in events in previous summers, and they continue the tradition in 2020 with an outdoor screening of Wonder Woman on Friday, July 24 and a presentation of Furious 7 on Saturday, Sep 12. Gates open at 8pm for each screening. Tickets are $30 per car and must be purchased in advance.

In Marin County, the historic Lark Theater and the popular Bon Air Center invite film lovers to Drive-In to the Movies this summer.

The series is free for all, though advance registration is required. The drive-in series next screens the summer movie classic Dirty Dancing on Thursday, July 16, at 8:30pm. Later this summer, the series offers a screening of another ‘80s musical hit, Flashdance, on Thursday, August 20.

After making reservations to the screening, moviegoers can also swing by the Lark Theater near the Bon Air Center before the movie and buy a tub of the theater’s fresh-popped organic popcorn to complete the experience.

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North Bay Protests Continue to Call for Social Justice

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 10:28 AM


It’s been one month since George Floyd’s death on May 25, after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.

In the weeks that have followed, a nationwide movement of protest against police brutality and social and racial justice has spread to all 50 states.

The North Bay’s ongoing protests and rallies have hit major cities like Santa Rosa and San Rafael, as well as the smaller locales such as Healdsburg and Mill Valley, with events honoring Black lives, celebrations of Pride month and other socially conscious movements.

This month-long wave of protests is not slowing down, and the final week of June is packed with a schedule of peaceful events in Marin, Sonoma and Napa County.

The gatherings get started today, Thursday, June 25, with a Mill Valley Peaceful Protest beginning at 1:30pm. The protest march will kick off at the Safeway parking lot at 1 Camino Alto, and move down Miller Ave near Tamalpais High School, before traveling downtown to Old Mill Park. The event encourages participants to bring Black Lives Matter signs, and guest speakers are slated to appear. Face coverings are required and water and snacks will be provided.

Also today, June 25, the Spahr Center hosts a Rally for LGBTQ+ and Racial Justice at 4:30pm in downtown Fairfax. The Spahr Center is Marin County’s only nonprofit serving the LGBTQ community and everyone in the county living with and affected by HIV. Today’s rally takes a stand against incidents of racism and transphobia that has occurred in Fairfax recently.

Notably, 17-year-old transgender teen Jasper Lauter was verbally harassed last Saturday in Fairfax by a man and a woman who were also harassing a Black Lives Matter bake sale. The incident was caught on video and shows the man and woman mocking and insulting Lauter, who posted the video to his Twitter account.

Today’s Rally for LGBTQ+ and Racial Justice begins at the downtown steps in Fairfax and participants are asked to wear face coverings and follow social distance guidelines. Following the rally in Fairfax, the Spahr Center is leading a caravan of cars to San Rafael, where a peaceful gathering to stop racism is happening at 1050 Court Street.

Other North Bay protests planned for the week include a Black Lives Matter Meet-up on Friday, June 26, at Walnut Park in Petaluma. The protest begins at 1pm and participants are to wear all black. Protest signs are encouraged and face coverings are mandatory.

On Saturday, June 27, Santa Rosa’s Junior College campus once again becomes the scene for a major protest event. The Cycle for Life will be peaceful Critical Mass-style bike protest that plans to ride from the SRJC lawn on Mendocino Avenue through town to Old Courthouse Square in a yet-to-be-determined route of approximately six miles. Non-bikers can also attend, and the event kicks off with a protest sign-making session on the SRJC lawn at noon before the 1pm ride and march.

Once the ride is over, speakers, performers, and vendors will be on hand in Old Courthouse Square to keep the event going strong into the evening. The Cycle for Life will support Black Lives Matter and Pride, and the family-friendly event is also requiring social distancing and face coverings to be mindful of Covid-19.

Also on Saturday, June 27, the Bake Sale for Social Justice is back on in Fairfax, happening at 100 Bolinas Road near the Fairfax Community Farmers Market from 4pm to 6pm. All money raised at the bake sale will be donated to the Equal Justice Institute, The Spahr Center and Trevor Project. Organizers ask that people wear a mask and follow state social distancing guidelines.

Sunday, June 28, begins with Pride Is a Protest, a rally and march in Napa organized by The Peoples Collective for Change. Meeting at Napa’s City Hall at 10:30am, the rally is in honor of LGBTQ demonstrators who essentially founded the gay rights movement with the Stonewall Riots, which took place in New York City beginning on June 28, 1969.

The Napa protest will also stand in solidarity with black, brown and Indigenous people, and PCC Napa hopes to demonstrate that LGBTQ people and their allies are committed to racial and social justice.

Also on Sunday, June 28, Fairfax Parkade is the setting for an afternoon Anti-Racism Rally to reimagine public safety and stop the spread of racism locally. The rally begins at the Parkade lot between Sir Francis Drake Blvd and Broadway Boulevard at Noon with a community discussion and guest speakers and performers.

Sunday, June 28, wraps up with an evening Black Lives Matter Vigil at Mill Valley City Hall. The event begins at 9pm and is followed by a movie screening, and organizers ask participants to bring blankets and sleeping bags in addition to face coverings.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Windsor’s Open

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2020 at 4:38 PM

Windsor is a peaceful, quiet sanctuary for addled minds. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SONOMA COUNTY TOURISM.
  • Photo courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism.
  • Windsor is a peaceful, quiet sanctuary for addled minds.

Eighteen years ago, Windsor officially incorporated into a town. What’s in store as it heads into its next decade? At this point, who knows what’s in store for any small American town? What a strange time to be entering your 20s, Windsor—you have my sympathies. And yet, you seem to be doing just fine; perhaps even better than ever.

My month began in Windsor with a guest appearance on your locally produced, nationally syndicated TV show, Creature Features (Crowhaven Productions is your best-kept secret—pssst ... vimeo.com/crowhaven) and will likely end with a flurry of letters to the editor about how I know nothing about the place. But I do, just ask your local Rotarians about my Zoom chat with them. They asked me to speak about media at an hour that was both early and ungodly. In my delirium, I claimed to have been conceived in the ’70s during a cocaine-fueled night in a Marin County hot tub (for the record, it was more likely jug wine at Bodega Bay). Their polite reception of my rant was followed by what we in the biz call “crickets.”

To fill my Windsor knowledge gap, I visited it—last night, in fact. At first blush, the suburban idyll might appear as a rogue Disneyland colony, perhaps Stepford, Conn. or a simulacrum of a natural human habitat. Works for me—clean and quiet—a perfectly lovely place, particularly for a jaded Gen Xer who just wants to chill the F out. The electric cars made nary a purr, the wind whispered, even the preponderance of children around the Town Green played in near silence. Kids—so many kids. I had to ask myself, “What did they do to all the adults?” My companion and I finally spied some grownups at nearby Kin Windsor—which looked too adult for my state of mind—so we ventured up the block to Lupe’s Diner. 

Germaphobes like me will be happy to know that Lupe’s seating is properly socially-distanced, the waitstaff wore masks and gloves, and the outdoor seating undergoes thorough spraying and wiping-down between diners. My grilled-chicken burrito was dependable and perfect. My companion’s tilapia tacos, ditto. The guacamole will make you rethink the green substances being eaten elsewhere—good to the last chip. 

Lupe’s Diner, 710 McClelland Drive, Windsor. 707.836.0150. lupesdiner.com.

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