Winterblast brings art lovers, fun seekers to A Street in Santa Rosa
Every year in November, Santa Rosa’s colorful and lively South of A Street arts district, better known as SOFA, celebrates the season with art exhibits, demonstrations, food and drink, live music and the whimsical Sofa Parade, featuring lavishly decorated and remarkably mobile couches of all kinds.
It’s a little bit too difficult to define succinctly but think of the Winterblast celebration as an open house event that spills into the streets, or a mini-Mardi Gras.
“We didn’t know this would be an annual event,” said Bob Stender, coordinator of this year’s Winterblast on Saturday, and owner — with his wife Becky — of Tibidabo Photography on A Street for the past 32 years.
“For us, the A Street neighborhood is a community of artists helping each other,” he said, “but it’s also giving back to Santa Rosa, making it a more culturally interesting place to be.”
Mixed media artist Cat Kaufman has maintained a studio at a couple of different addresses on A Street over the past decade,and has come to cherish the neighborhood’s annual celebration.
“Almost everybody here really gets into Winterblast,” she said. “I’ve seen it grow from the handful of people that used to come here to thousands.”
Sonoma County has come through a rough period recently with wildfires, mass evacuations and power outages, and Kaufman hopes everyone will appreciate a free event that places no stress on its patrons.
“We’re hoping to still get the crowds this year,” she said. “It was a slow build in the beginning, but a lot of people really look forward to it now. It’s low-key. I think that’s what people like. This is strictly for the community. We seldom get any sales out of this.”
The SOFA arts district occupies a rather compact piece of the map of Santa Rosa, between South A Street and Santa Rosa Avenue, and between Sonoma Avenue and Sebastopol Avenue, near Juilliard Park. Within that space, there are roughly a dozen and half art studios and galleries, featuring some 40 artists, as well as restaurants and other businesses.
One of A Street’s longtime, high-profile artists, Mario Uribe, plans to add something new to the celebration this year. The Cafe Frida Gallery, which he’s opening with his son Mamadou Diouf at the old Atlas Coffee site, won’t be open yet, but there’ll live music on its patio for Winterblast.
In his nearby studio, instead of showing his own work, Uribe is also doing something different this year. He’ll feature the “Faces” exhibit, a collection of 40 photographic portraits of homeless people that was displayed at Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center earlier this year.
“It’s an opportunity for a couple of thousand people to see that work,” he said.
For Uribe, it’s all part of A Street’s long history as a place where the arts can be nurtured and enjoyed.
“There have been artists in this corner of Santa Rosa for something like 30 years,” he said.
You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @danarts.