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All art welcome at Sonoma '12-Squared' exhibit

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If You Go

What: “12-Squared” art exhibit

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 1 through Sep. 27. Opens with reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 1, in conjunction with the 23rd annual Sonoma City Party, which runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the nearby Sonoma Plaza. The “12 Squared” exhibit closes with a celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27.

Where: Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma

Admission: Free

Information: 707-938-4246, sonomacommunitycenter.org

What if they had an art show and everybody came? Better yet, what if they all brought their own art?

When the Sonoma Community Center put out a call for artists to take part in its “12 Squared’ exhibition, organizers made it clear the show was open to everyone — both professional and amateur artists, of all ages. Entrants could choose any topic and any artistic medium, from ceramics to fiber, as well paintings, drawings and sculpture.

“We accept all the work that comes in, with no judgements,” said Lexi Bakkar, ceramics studio coordinator at the center.

The rules for entering art in the exhibit are simple: Whether the work of art is two-dimensional or three-dimensional, it must measure 12 by 12 inches (or possibly, 12 by 12 by 12 inches.) Hence the title of the show.

“We chose ‘12 Squared’ because it has a nice ring to it, and because our gallery is in Room 212,” said Bakkar, who is organizing the exhibit with Eric Jackson, the center’s creative programs director.

The exhibit opens Thursday, Aug. 1, with a reception and closes with a celebration Sept. 27.

There is one other condition for entry. Participants must donate to their works of art for sale, at $40 apiece, as a part of a fundraising effort for the center.

“The sales are cash and carry, so we’re going replace the pieces that are sold with new ones,” Bakkar explained. “There’s no hard deadline for entries. We’re hoping to get 200 pieces of art. That’s our goal.”

So not only is the style and subject matter of the exhibit wide open, but the show will constantly change throughout its run.

“I’m intrigued that this is going to be a rotating show. We’re actually letting people walk away with their purchases, so we’ll replace those, and the show will change,” Jackson said. “We’re still accepting submissions. We’re not going to turn anybody away.” Participation isn’t even limited to local artists. “Not at all,” Bakkar said. “We have already received work from New York and Venice, California.”

While the show is designed to be as inclusive as possible, organizers hope that contributors to the show will be responsible.

“If a piece comes in that is questionable ... well, this is a family-friendly exhibition,” Bakkar said.

For Melissa J. Stone of Sonoma, a professional artist for the past 40 years, the “12-Squared” exhibit is a change of pace. She’s entering two digital illustrations, embellished to look like watercolors, to the show.

“These are smaller pieces than I usually do, so it was kind of fun to restrict myself to the square format,” she said.

Sonoma painter and ceramic artist Kate Knudsen — a former Los Angeles fashion designer who once created painted stage costumes for rock bands and custom-painted tennis shoes for celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg and Elton John — has taught a workshop class at the Sonoma Community Center.

“I love supporting the center. They have such a good ceramics department under Kala Stein,” Knudsen said. “I think it’s great that this show is open to all kinds of artists.”

Knudsen’s contribution to the art show will be painted ceramic plates, each measuring 12 inches by 12 inches.

“It’s a great idea to have all of the pieces same size. It’ll make wonderful display on the walls,” she said.

In contrast to the painstaking task of curating entries for a more conventional art show, collecting artwork for “12- Squared” is freewheeling fun, the organizers said.

“I feel like it’s Christmas Eve or Christmas morning every time a new package comes through,” Jackson said. “I look forward to seeing how a nice blank format inspires people to create art.”

In the spirit of Sonoma Community Center’s annual Trashion Fashion show every spring, participants in the “12- Squared” exhibit re encouraged to use repurposed materials.

“We discovered that old record album covers are 12 by 12 inches,” Bakkar said.

Some of the work to be included in the show is being created in the community center’s ongoing art classes, Bakkar said, but art training is not a requirement.

“This is to give everybody an opportunity to create community within the show. It’s not exclusive at all,” she said. “It’s surprising what people who don’t think they’re artists can do.”

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

If You Go

What: “12-Squared” art exhibit

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 1 through Sep. 27. Opens with reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 1, in conjunction with the 23rd annual Sonoma City Party, which runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the nearby Sonoma Plaza. The “12 Squared” exhibit closes with a celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27.

Where: Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma

Admission: Free

Information: 707-938-4246, sonomacommunitycenter.org

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