New performance venue opens in Healdsburg art gallery
For 14 years, Paul Mahder ran a successful art gallery in San Francisco, but he doesn’t consider that the high point of his career. That came next, when he moved north.
He likes it better in Healdsburg, where he opened his Paul Mahder Gallery seven and a half years ago in a 30-foot-tall double Quonset hut built in 1946 and formerly home to an antique store.
“I knew nothing about Healdsburg. I was happy in San Francisco, but then I saw this space. It was unique in terms of what it could be,” Mahder said. “After that I was like a dog with a bone. I couldn’t let go.”
Not only has Mahder held on to his space at 222 Healdsburg Ave., he’s about to add a new dimension: a live performance venue he calls The 222, a nonprofit, member-supported organization, opening with three concerts Aug. 21-22 by New York City jazz pianist George Cables and his trio.
It’s a natural progression, as the gallery has long hosted music events, presented in conjunction with the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.
“Healdsburg is looking for an intimate performing arts space that I already have,” Mahder said. “I’m already there.”
Musician Cables said from his home in New York that he once attended a jazz fest event at the gallery and looks forward to performing there.
“It’ll be somewhere between a club show and a concert, not too crowded,” Cables predicted. “It’s a really good space. I think it’ll be an excellent place to play.”
While Mahder plans to book jazz, classical, contemporary and choral music, plus film screenings and literary readings at The 222, the jazz connection is very strong, thanks to the involvement of Jessica Felix, founder and former artistic director of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, which she ran for 22 years.
“When I retired, I didn’t realize all this was going to happen,” Felix said of collaborating with The 222. “I can’t resist helping, because this time, it’s not all my responsibility. I can book a show once a month. It’s easy. So obviously, I called all my musician friends, and of course, the first call was to George Cables.”
Felix met Cables, and many of her jazz favorites, at the Keystone Korner nightclub in San Francisco’s North Beach, first as a fan and later as a talent booker for roughly a decade, starting in the late ’70s.
Beyond jazz, Mahder is planning an eclectic range of events. Programmers for The 222 include not only Felix, but five other specialists. Violinist and arts administrator Gary McLaughlin will line up classical music, while arts adviser and curator John Strawn will plan other contemporary music events. Sanford Dole, artistic director of Cantabile Chorale, will be in charge of choral music. Sonoma Film Institute Director Eleanor Nichols will be responsible for film events and author and poet Laurie Glover for literary events.
For the George Cables Trio concert, the seating will be club style with round tables that seat four people. Seating will be assigned according to the date of ticket purchase.
Mahder estimates there will be an audience of 100. The venue’s website states, “For your safety and that of other guests, COVID vaccination is required. By purchasing, you are confirming that you and anyone else you purchase for have been vaccinated.” Sonoma County currently requires the wearing of masks at indoor gatherings.
To prepare the gallery space for its new role as a performance venue, Mahder has added a new Yamaha 9-foot concert grand piano, a professional Bose Sound system, stage lighting, a temperature-controlled gallery auditorium, a raised stage and club-style seating.
And of course, those who attend the concert will be surrounded with visual creations by artists from around the world.
“Visual art and music really go together, with the sound and the colors,” Cables said. “When you play, it’s like painting with sound.”
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.
Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat
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