We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

This summer offers a social mixer of sorts to become acquainted with the people of Petaluma, those long gone as well as residents currently living in the local zip codes.

An exhibition at the Petaluma Arts Center, a companion exhibit at the Petaluma Museum and an unofficial piggyback exhibit at the IceHouse Gallery all pay tribute to those who’ve made their home in Petaluma.

“Face of Petaluma: Portraits of Our Town” is a photographic portrayal highlighting the works of photographers Paige Green, Michael Woolsey, Jude Mooney, Michael Garlington and Ramin Rahimian.

Their portraits focus on local personalities from all walks of life. Co-curated by Mooney and Stefan Kirkeby, the exhibit runs through Aug. 5.

The center, at 230 Lakeville St., is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $3-$5.

For more information, call 707-762-5600 or visit petalumaartscenter.org.

A companion exhibit, “Portraits of Petaluma Pioneers: Personal Images & Public Stories of a California River Town,” is presented by the Petaluma Museum Association.

The exhibit offers photographs from the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum and the Sonoma County Library. Art historian Paula Freund curated the exhibit.

The town’s booming history of the 1850s and 1860s coincided with the popularity of camera portraiture, preserving pioneers’ accomplishments and experiences.

The exhibit runs through Aug. 5. Admission is free.

The museum, at 20 Fourth St., is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, noon-3 p.m. Sunday and by appointment.

For more information, call 707-778-4398 or visit petalumamuseum.com.

In conjunction with the exhibits, IceHouse Gallery presents “(Mostly) Petaluma Portraits,” larger-than-life-sized portraits in charcoal of local women by Petaluma fine artist Kathryn Keller.

The portraits feature women Keller admires for their quiet heroism and reflect the artist’s references to art history, feminist issues, pop culture and contemporary events.

IceHouse Gallery, at 405 E. D St. (in the Burdell Building) is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday by appointment.

The exhibit runs through July 30. Admission is free.

For more information, call 707-778-2238 or visit icehousegallery.org.

When fine artist Kathryn Keller heard about a pair of exhibits highlighting the pioneers and present-day residents of Petaluma, she knew the timing was right to share a collection of her works.

Her larger-than-life portraits of inspiring local women are now part of a trio of summertime exhibits featuring faces, personalities and profiles of River City neighbors and the settlers who helped shape the community.

Presented at IceHouse Gallery in the historic Burdell Building, “(Mostly) Petaluma Portraits” features eight charcoal drawings of women Keller admires for “leading lives of quiet heroism.”

Most she’s met since moving to Petaluma from Oakland in 1987. Although her artwork has been shown widely throughout the state, “(Mostly) Petaluma Portraits” is her first solo exhibit in her adopted hometown.

Keller, 68, has a deep connection to Petaluma, although she considers herself a relative newcomer; she’s been in town 30 years, after living in more urban cities.

Many in the community reached out to her and her husband when they returned home from a camping trip to Montana to discover their “tiny, little house” in west Petaluma had burned to the ground, destroying much of Keller’s artwork. At the time, they’d barely settled in; they’d been in Petaluma a year and a half.

“People in general were like my therapists,” Keller said of the period following the fire.

Her exhibit at IceHouse Gallery reflects on the strength she’s found in the women around her, from longtime friends to those she met at yoga class, the gym or in her neighborhood.

“They’re regular people who I think are really heroic,” she said. “They’re women I feel really close to.”

The large-scale drawings measure 35 inches by 73 inches, each one looking directly at the viewer.

Making eye contact was the artist’s intent. She photographed each woman looking directly at the camera and transferred that connection through her artwork.

“By utilizing scale and the direct gaze, my portraits are meant to be confrontational,” she said.

Viewers will discover more than full-bodied portraits. Each work shares a personal reflection meaningful to Keller — references to art history, feminist issues, contemporary events and pop culture.

In one, “Lindsay, Frida and The Earth Itself,” Keller depicts portions of a 1939 work originally titled “The Earth Itself” by famed feminist painter Frida Kahlo on the sleeveless dress of Keller’s subject and friend, a landscape gardener for a local school district.

She’s drawn with her right hand resting atop her head, a pair of garden clippers in her hand. The stance reveals a tattoo of a skull within a rose covering her armpit.

“Obviously, she’s tough,” Keller said. “If you get skull-rose tattoos in your armpits you have to withstand some pain.”

Another friend, a homemaker who also works cleaning homes and businesses, is drawn with her arms folded across her chest, her short-sleeved dress covered with images of Wonder Woman.

“She’s a Wonder Woman. There was no hiding it,” Keller said.

A self-portrait — only the second she’s done in her long career — shows the backside of the artist. Keller makes eye contact through the reflection in a hand-held mirror.

She’s wearing a black T-shirt with an image of Martin Luther King Jr., like one she saw back when she was working in her Los Angeles art studio.

“Now I’m interested in clothing people wear, the statements of protest that people wear,” Keller said.

And, she incorporates statements — subtle or bold — within the attire of her portraits. The reflections don’t necessarily mirror her subjects’ beliefs but are part of Keller’s artistic prose. Her superimposed subjective narratives create a collaboration between the artist and those she’s captured in charcoal.

She hopes viewers will see beyond the obvious and contemplate the deeper messages within her work — and discover the strength of each subject.

“It emerges over time, but at times you can feel it immediately,” Keller said. “A lot of these mothers have gone through trials and tribulations and are the matriarchs of their family and the glue that holds these families together.”

Her portraits were completed over a 2½-year period, with each work taking a few months’ time, off and on. The women range from their 40s to their 60s, each worthy of a grand-scale portrayal.

“They are,” Keller said, “bigger than life.”

Her exhibit also includes two greater-known faces: Hillary Clinton and contemporary Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Their portraits are smaller and located around the corner wall from the main exhibition.

Keller’s show also features several digital paintings of her subjects that at first glance appear to be photographs. She digitally colored in her charcoal drawings in Photoshop, creating color drawings.

“They evolved from black-and-white drawings,” she said. “I consider them digital drawings. I like this direction. I’d like to work more in it.”

Keller’s career includes more than 20 years as an artist/designer in commercial decorative and architectural painting. She’s taught art at the college level and her installations and drawings have been exhibited at numerous venues, including those in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Montreal.

A San Diego native, Keller has received such awards and merits as an Artist Fellowship and an Artist Project Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

She’s especially happy to showcase the local women she holds in esteem, those who help make up the complexion of her community and her life.

“I wanted them to be as large as I thought their lives were,” she said.

Contact Towns Correspondent Dianne Reber Hart at sonomatowns@gmail.com.

Show Comment