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Santa Rosa’s South of A Street arts district set to reopen

“Just Flowers: Rebirth Through Art”

When: May 6 through June 26. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and by appointment.

Where: Santa Rosa Arts Center, 312 S. A St., Santa Rosa

Information: 707-526-0135, santarosaartscenter.org/index.php/just-flowers/

Opening reception: 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 7, in the South of A Street (SOFA) arts district in Santa Rosa. Pandemic protocols, including masks and distancing, will be observed.

Santa Rosa’s rustic South of A Street arts district, not far from the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping center and snugly tucked against Juilliard Park, hasn’t had one of its monthly First Friday celebrations since 2019. That’s about to change.

An enclave of galleries, artists’ studios, cafes and shops, the SOFA district has gradually built a reputation over the years as an intriguing yet relaxing place to hang out. But the area has been much quieter since COVID-19 forced restrictions on venues, events and social life in general.

With spring unfolding and the coronavirus pandemic steadily abating, the city’s neighborhood haven for arts plans to party May 7, with the Santa Rosa Arts Center gallery and studio complex taking the lead.

“The arts center was on the verge of a very busy, breakthrough period after the winter in 2020 when we had to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Simmon Factor, the center’s director. “Our schedule was packed with events and art shows, and though necessary, it was a great letdown (to close).”

In line with SOFA’s triumphant return to vibrancy, Factor believes he’s found the perfect theme for the newest exhibit at the center — “Just Flowers: Rebirth Through Art.” What better metaphor for a new beginning?

“Now, with the longer days and all the flowers brightening the hills and yards, I thought it would be appropriate to add our positive take with an art show featuring just flowers,” Factor said.

Reopening event

For the opening reception, the Santa Rosa Arts Center will collaborate with Avalow Garden, Cafe Frida and SOFA artist studios to create a First Friday event welcoming art lovers back to the SOFA art district.

Jon Strider and Robin Factor will provide live music on the outdoor Arts Center Stage. At nearby Cafe Frida, local Latin band Batacha will perform.

“I’m thrilled that SOFA is restarting the First Friday tradition. For many years we had studio and gallery openings the First Friday of every month with fresh art exhibits, live music and refreshments,” Factor said.

“The SOFA arts district has been a special neighborhood arts hub. And this grand reopening will kick-start the renewal of live art events and give people the opportunity to check out some of the businesses, which will also be open,” he added.

In addition to the “Just Flowers” exhibit, which will continue at the center (with masks and social distancing required) and online through June 26, visitors can see work in the artists’ studios in the same building as the center, as well as throughout the neighborhood. Popular local artist Mario Uribe will participate with his Seishin Studio.

Accepting art

For those who want to take a more active role in “Just Flowers,” the center will accept artwork entries through May 2.

The show is open to Bay Area and Northern California artists. This is a non-juried exhibit, but the Santa Rosa Arts Center may accept or reject pieces. Artists will receive 60% of the income from art sold, and the Santa Rosa Arts Center will get 40%.

All art to be displayed in person must be hand-delivered. Submissions at the gallery must be made between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 2. Entry forms will be available in the gallery.

Those who want to submit entries to the online part of the show must send a JPEG image of each entry to info@santarosaartscenter.org. Label each submission with your last name, first name, title of the work, its size, medium and price. To submit videos or spoken word, email info@santarosaartscenter.org for instructions.

Fees to enter art in the show are $15 per entry or $40 for three entries for Santa Rosa Arts Center members and $20 per entry or $50 for three for nonmembers. Pay though bit.ly/3dRWqoM.

The long shutdown prompted by the coronavirus has not been a total loss for the SOFA district and its denizens, Factor said.

“It’s actually been a creative time for me and a few other people I’ve spoken with, who produced art and other projects,” he said. “During the shutdown, I took the opportunity to build a new stage in the arts center backyard, where musicians will be performing May 7 and throughout the summer.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.

“Just Flowers: Rebirth Through Art”

When: May 6 through June 26. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and by appointment.

Where: Santa Rosa Arts Center, 312 S. A St., Santa Rosa

Information: 707-526-0135, santarosaartscenter.org/index.php/just-flowers/

Opening reception: 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 7, in the South of A Street (SOFA) arts district in Santa Rosa. Pandemic protocols, including masks and distancing, will be observed.

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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