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Sonoma County artists, including star barber, featured in ’Americart 2019’ on Amazon Prime

Nearly a year ago, French-born New York City filmmaker and artist Christelle Bois set out with a two-person camera crew to cross America from east to west in order to illustrate a simple thesis: The arts are alive all over the country outside the metropolises of New York and Los Angeles.

“I wanted to get outside the big cities,” Bois said. “I wanted to get beyond that.”

By last September, she had reached Sonoma County, where she interviewed a well-known local patron of the arts, a photographer, a husband-and-wife artist and muralist team and a barber who specializes in elaborate designs.

And that’s just in the last 10 minutes or so of the 82-minute film. “Americart 2019,” now streaming on Amazon Prime, works its way through Maryland, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon, highlighting a diverse sample of artisans, artists and arts advocates.

Part of Bois’ mission for the movie was to expand the way the public perceives the arts.

“I wanted to meet people and bring out their stories, to show that that everyone could be an artist,” the director said. “I wanted to show that there are all kinds of art.”

That broad definition of art includes barber Jesus Urincho, who has worked at The Gentlemen’s Barbershop in Windsor for the past two years, artfully carving intricate designs into his customers’ hair.

“A lot of barbers do different designs, but Jesus takes it to another level,” said Marco Flores, who owns and runs the shop with four barbers, including Urincho. “He adds dye and color and 3D to it. He brings his own art into his barbering.”

The shop is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although Urincho comes across in the film as a star in his chosen craft, the modest 23-year-old barber is ill at ease talking about himself.

“Even in the interview for the movie, it was hard to talk,” he said.

“I was actually a customer (at The Gentlemen’s Barbershop) and saw barbers doing that. I started telling them I could do what they were doing,” Urincho said. “I spent a little time trying figure out how to do it. I did all different designs from the beginning.”

The Sonoma County segment opens with Walter Byck, founder of the Paradise Ridge Winery, and his daughter, Sonia Byck-Barwick. The winery has long been home to numerous outdoor sculptures and host to rotating sculpture shows presented by the Voigt Family Foundation.

“I was thrilled when my father was chosen to be a part of this documentary, because art, but mostly the artists, are my father’s greatest joy. To be honest, I was an add-on at the end. I was watching my father being filmed,” Byck-Barwick said.

“Seeing what art means to people across the United States is fascinating,” she said of the film. “We all see art from our unique perspective and that is what makes it so interesting and exciting.”

Bois and her crew also interviewed Santa Rosa photographer Christine Cobaugh, as well as Joshua Lawyer and MJ Lindo-Lawyer, a Santa Rosa couple who are muralists and painters.

Across the country, the director sought out diversity, not only in the sources she interviewed but also in their art forms. The mix includes a saddlemaker in Elk County, Nevada; a brewer in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and a Kiowa-Apache “keeper of the flames,” preserving Native American traditions in Wichita, Kansas.

“It was very big project,” Bois said. “I wanted something quite different from just the usual painters and photographers. I wanted to make it broader. I wanted to show that art is important.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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