An artist can lead a lonely life, working in solitude on pieces that convey ideas and feelings to strangers the artist may never meet.
For the past decade, a series of biennial, juried exhibits titled “Discovered: Emerging Artists from Sonoma County” has sought to shine a light on serious artists who have worked in the shadows for too long.
“The goal of the show is to put a spotlight on artists who have deserved recognition but may have been flying under the radar,” said Kristen Madsen, director of Creative Sonoma, a division of Sonoma County’s Economic Development Board, which co-produced this year’s show with the Petaluma Arts Center.
The fifth exhibit in the series, founded in 2006 by Community Foundation Sonoma County, features the work of five local artists and opens with a public reception Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Petaluma Arts Center. It runs until mid-March and includes 37 pieces and two large installations.
“One thing I would say about these artists is how eclectic they are,” said Kate Eilertsen, lead guest curator for the exhibit. “They all deal with very different subjects and use very different media. I think that represents Sonoma County’s young artists today. They’re all doing different things.”
The participating artists are: Jenny Harp, paintings and pencil and ink drawings, and Dayana Leon, oil and acrylic paintings and multimedia installations, both of Santa Rosa; Catherine Sieck, artwork composed of meticulous paper cut-outs, Occidental; Kala Stein, ceramic sculpture and multimedia installations, Sonoma; and Jaynee Watson, multimedia installations, Petaluma.
“Coincidentally, the five artists are all women this year and all in their mid-20s to their mid-30s, although there’s no age criteria for entry,” Madsen said. “The only criteria for artists to enter is that they’re not currently represented by an agent or gallery, and that they haven’t had a solo show at a gallery or museum within the past 10 years.”
The selection process began with 80 nominations, followed by 46 applications. Curators selected a dozen finalists, announced last summer, before paring the number down to the final five. In addition to the exhibit, the five artists each receive a $2,000 stipend and a professionally designed catalog of her work.
The show’s curators are Eilertsen, former executive director of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art; local visual artist Jessica Martin; and Michael Schwager, gallery director and professor of art history at Sonoma State University.
Even though the artists represented in the “Discovered” exhibit aren’t famous, that doesn’t mean they lack training or experience, Madsen said.
Harp, for example, received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Sonoma State University in 2012 and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa in 2015. Her work is included in the Thomas J. Watson Library Special Collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Leon received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Sonoma State University in 2015. Sieck, who is an artist and a gardener, recently completed a residency at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Watson received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Sonoma State University in 2014.
Stein received her bachelor of fine arts from State University of New York at New Paltz and her master of fine arts from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She came to Sonoma to serve as director of ceramics at the Sonoma Community Center.
NEW FACES IN ART
What: “Discovered: Emerging Artists from Sonoma County”
When: Opening reception, 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. Exhibit runs Jan. 24-March 18.
Where: Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville St., Petaluma.
Information: 707-762-5600, petalumaartscenter.org