Looking for local art ‘under the radar’? Here are five options
As the arts world slowly emerges from the yearlong coronavirus pandemic, major museums have begun to open again. But if you look closely, art is reappearing all around us.
Venues that were little noticed before the shutdfown now stand out more clearly, as art and artists previously “under the radar” now shine like beacons against the bleaker landscape of life during the COVID-19 crisis.
A local artists’ group called ArtStanding already has presented two outdoor exhibits at Gundlach Bundscu Winery in Sonoma. They’re planning a third show there on Sunday.
The Gualala Arts Center, near Highway 1, has been home to both visual and performing arts since 1961. Its newest exhibit, “Combining Forces (A Camera and a Brush),” opened last weekend with limited hours and social distancing. Its annual “Arts in the Schools” show opens April 16 online.
The center also operates the Dolphin Gallery in Gualala, which will open a one-woman show of work by Carol Singer April 9 for members and April 10 for the public.
French-born painter and pen-and-ink artist Christian Quintin has maintained his studio and gallery in downtown Santa Rosa since 2013 and continues to show and sell his work there by appointment.
Sydney Pfaff, founder of the Legion Gallery in San Francisco, moved to Sonoma County early last year and closed her city location last summer. Now she’s reopened her gallery as Legion Projects in Healdsburg.
“We’re trying to find a sense of normalcy and honor the spirit of our commitment to the arts, safely,” said David Sus Susalla, executive director at the Gualala Arts Center.
Outdoor exhibits continue
For Cathleen “Cat” Francisco, a wine educator at the Gunlach Bundschu and an artist herself, finding a venue to display artwork during widespread gallery and museum closures over the past year was imperative.
She staged the ArtStanding outdoor pop-up exhibits at the winery last September and November, and she has another lined up there on Sunday. The winery serves only as the site for the events, which Francisco is producing independently.
“I reached out to the many artists I know, and then they went to artists they knew,” Francisco said. “We were all just sitting around, masked and muted. And people in general are zoned out and tired of virtual art shows.”
Staging exhibits on a hillside at the winery simplified things, she said. Even as the pandemic concerns gradually subside, she sees an opportunity for more outdoor exhibits at other sites.
“There are so many spaces available out there,” Francisco said. “I wish more venues would open up and invite artists out there, because artists are struggling. Even once we’re past COVID, we will need to be in outside spaces to show visual art.”
Pfaff operated the Legion art gallery in San Francisco for nearly eight years before closing it last July and moving to Healdsburg.
At her new Legion Projects gallery in Healdsburg, she curates art shows, represents artists and advises interior decorators and those who stage homes for perspective buyers. Mentoring artists is a priority.
“I work with artists from all over the world, and especially love working with up-and-comers,” Pfaff said. “I am really excited to be in a new setting. It’s definitely a change from the city. Healdsburg has a lot of artful people.”
Her new exhibit, “Something To Look Forward To,” features five women painters, including Jessica Martin of Healdsburg, whose mural adorns the side of the Legion Projects building.
Quintin, 63, who was born in Brittany in France, came to the United States in 1981 and settled in 2007 in Santa Rosa, where he opened his own downtown studio and gallery in 2013. It’s open by appointment now, and Quintin hopes to stage an art show soon.
“My life is simple,” he said. “I create art every day. I decide, and I do what I want. Most people envy my lifestyle. It’s fortunate to find meaning in life.”
Quintin’s pictures are bursting with rich colors, and even the isolation of the past year has not changed that.
“My palette is rather bright and colorful. I never use brown,” he said. “The latest pieces I did showed my desire to encourage a sense of hope.”
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at email@example.com or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.
Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat
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