Recent wildfires have marked the lives of tens of thousands of people all over Sonoma County and and other parts of California, leaving bewildered survivors to piece their worlds back together.
The arts community is just as impacted as everyone else, but artists have an added resource to aid in everyone’s recovery — their talent.
The results will be showcased in benefit shows and concerts, fundraising art projects and a variety other efforts in the coming days and weeks.
Longtime Forestville mixed media artist Gerald Huth responded to the fires with two 16-by-20-inch collages he titled “Inferno I” and “Inferno II,” the first in a series, made of news photos of fire and partially burned drawings.
“I just felt I had to do something about the fires,” Huth said. “Art is something that can relieve pain or bring some sort of solace or joy, or at least express what we’re all feeling.” Like some 140 other Sonoma County artists, Huth will participate this weekend and next weekend in the annual Art Trails open studio tour. He intends to sell his two “Inferno” pieces to benefit victims of the multiple blazes that besieged the county starting last week, and other artists also plan to donate proceeds from their sales of art during Art Trails.
Art Trails, sponsored by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, also is accepting donations for fire relief for artists of all kinds. A separate fund also has been set up for Art Trails artists who suffered personal losses from the fires.
“We have seven Art Trails artists who have lost their homes and studios,” said Linda Galletta, Sonoma County Art Trails administrator.
Painter Suzanne Edminster created her acrylic-on-wood fire-inspired, “Ashes,” work the day of the start of the wildfires. She had been nearing the end of five-day retreat with 10 other artists at Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga, when fire broke out the night of Oct. 8. Her piece also will be on sale during Art Trails to benefit fire relief.
“I just think artists are always, in some sense, emotional and psychological first-responders,” Edminster said.
Art Trails is self-guided tour with visitors picking which studios they want to visit, and creating their own routes. Postponed from the original opening Oct. 13, Art Trails will run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and again Oct. 28-29. For maps and other information: sonomacountyarttrails.org
Visual artists aren’t the only ones who have responded to the crisis. Musicians, actors and comedians also plan fundraisers for fire relief. Some previously scheduled events have been repurposed to raise money for fire relief. Here’s a sample of benefits scheduled so far:
— The Alexander Valley Film Society is hosting “Movies to Benefit Fire Relief and Healing” through Sunday. All proceeds will go to the Community Foundation of Sonoma County’s Resilience Fund. There are 27 films in all. Highlights include “The Ballad of Lefty Brown,” 6 p.m. Friday at the Clover Theater in Cloverdale, $25 or pay what you can; “The Graduate,” 7 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Oddfellows Hall in Geyserville, bring your own dinner, no-host bar, $12 or pay what you can; “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall,” 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Raven Theater in Healdsburg, $12 or pay what you can. avfilmsociety.org/tickets