“We truly believe that art and art-making are essential to the quality of life, especially now.” — Kala Stein
By Jackie Lee | Sun Fine Arts
We all feel somewhat unstable during these times of turmoil. Sonomans do the right thing – stay at home, wear masks, maneuver with six feet of distance – but for business owners it’s a whole other issue. Do they open their doors, or not? Similarly, artists are affected. They enjoy the gift of extra time in their studios to create art, but they can’t go forward with a plan to market it. Galleries are closed, as are museums and outdoor art festivals, although they have soldiered on as best they can with virtual presentations. Businesses and artists alike have felt the crunch.
Sonoma Art Stroll, through August 31, came to the rescue, under the guidance of the Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force formed by 24 Sonoma Valley nonprofits. Sponsored by the City of Sonoma and the Plein Air Foundation, it’s a different version of the very popular Sonoma Art Walk enjoyed by many over the last year, with the premise of installing art in tasting rooms and business store windows both downtown and across town. See the map.
The art is also displayed in selected outdoor areas, adding to the small-town festive feeling of a summertime art stroll. It is designed to be an event in place whether businesses and tasting rooms are open or not, with art continuously displayed in the windows and across the Valley.
Additional presentations of 22 large scale, colorful, artist-designed “heart works” are in front of City Hall, the Community Center, The Chamber of Commerce, and in Boyes Hot Springs.
Kala Stein, Director of Ceramics & Art at the Community Center, stresses the concept will meet all current health and safety requirements. “This self-guided experience will bring art to the public throughout the Valley while connecting businesses with local artists and creative youth,” she says. “We truly believe that art and art-making are essential to the quality of life, especially now.”
Three well-known Sonoma artists embraced the opportunity and joined immediately.
Chas Blackford, sculptor, says, “I’m finding that during this difficult time, our need for a sense of community and shared purpose is accentuated. Already I find it is reflected in my art. Hopefully, the #heART of Sonoma Arts Stroll will further help bring us together and provide some smiles and reassurance. The Sonoma Valley is an amazing and inspiring place to work and live for artists, and sharing our inspiration with others helps foster our creativity. Personally, I’m hoping the stroll will be foundational, post-pandemic, in raising awareness of the arts in Sonoma both locally, regionally, and perhaps even nationally.”
Julia Pozsgai (above) is cherished by the local arts community as a thriving artist in the modern abstract style. Gina Roman, art business manager for Julia, says the heARTS project is a welcome opportunity to display her colorful paintings. “Julia’s art is whimsical, bold, graphic and playful and at times Picasso-esque but always pure, a bit of outsider art. Fans appreciate her straightforward style and simplicity. COVID wreaked havoc with her sales as multiple venues she exhibited at have had temporary closures or were forced to close permanently.” Julia’s paintings are shown at Taub Family Outpost, 497 First Street West.
Mark Zukowski is a local photographer who usually travels the world to get the perfect picture. “I was an active participant in the Sonoma Art Walk, which is now, understandably, on hiatus,” says Mark. “I had shown my photographs at the Lake Sonoma Winery tasting room, where many are still on display. However, the most recent State Public Health Officer Order requires that wineries and tasting rooms must close indoor services to customers, so my photographs are no longer accessible at the tasting room. The Heart of Sonoma Summer Arts Stroll is similar to Art Walk, but without a single day event where many people would gather at the same time. This would give me the opportunity to once again display some of my photographs at a local business.”
Mark says the stroll is set up to ensure safe viewing and social distancing. ”Since many of my photographs are landscape and seascape scenes from locations both local and far afield, I thought that images displaying the beauty of nature might be uplifting for our community in this time of stress.” Mark’s photographs are on view at Prohibition Spirits, located at Cornerstone.
Jackie Lee is an artist/writer focused on promoting events in Sonoma by individual artists as well as established galleries. She may be reached at [email protected]