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Honoring the Arts

The Bohemian's 15th Annual Boho Awards

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We always were the types of people to pore over the fine print. Liner notes on album sleeves, closing credits at the end of movies, production notes buried in the back pages of a playbill—here in the Bohemian offices, we're more likely to be racking our brains over who served as key grip in a hit film than who played the starring role.

It's the same with covering the arts regionally, as we've done for over 30 years. Certain names will start popping up regularly in that fine print, and lodge themselves in our minds. People behind the soundboard, in the wings, running the lights or, as so often is the case, in a tiny closet of an office counting ticket stubs at the end of the night—these are the people who run the show but rarely get noticed.

Every year, for 15 years now, we take notice of these people. Our annual Boho Awards honor those who've made significant contributions to the arts in the North Bay, and not always with applause or recognition. These people include Olivia Everett, who's transformed the young arts scene in the Napa Valley; Peg Alford Pursell, who brings together writers with the power of words in Marin; Jill Plamann, who exhibits cutting-edge visual art at Healdsburg's Hammerfriar Gallery; Josh Windmiller, for whom organizing the ramshackle Americana scene is second nature; and Linda Bolt and the Kanbar Center, which has made the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center a hub of world-class arts in San Rafael.

The following profiles will tell you, the reader, a little bit about why we've chosen each honoree as a Boho Award recipient. But to truly understand the work performed by these dedicated people, we encourage readers to get out of the house and visit an opening, attend a chamber symphony or seek out a street festival. We live in an area incredibly robust for the arts, and it's a testament to this creative drive that we manage to keep finding deserving movers and shakers to celebrate in these pages year after year—even if we still don't always understand what it is the key grip does.

You can help us fete this year's Boho Award winners in a free soiree on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Christy's on the Square, Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa. Starting at 5:30pm, it'll feature food, drinks, winners, toasts, speeches, mingling, lingering and all things good and well with the world. Just like the arts are supposed to be.

See you there, and read on!

Gabe Meline, Editor

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On the Edge

Jill Plamann's Hammerfriar: time, space and the lawn stakes in between

By Rachel Dovey

In a town full of galleries selling still lifes and decorative vases, Jill Plamann's Hammerfriar stands out. Located near Healdsburg's railroad tracks in a vine-covered warehouse, the frame shop and gallery currently showcases a variety of installations featuring, among other things, living moss, lawn stakes and TVs suspended in feather-strewn birdcages. There's also a two-story sculpture in the entranceway that looks like a cross between a scorpion and an antique combine.

It's a contrast that the gallery's Windsor-dwelling owner is aware of.

"I'd like to educate people about this kind of art rather than paintings of vineyards," she says on a recent Monday afternoon at the gallery she opened in 2005. "There's a saying out there: 'In California, people choose work that decorates their home; in New York, they buy art.' That's of course a generalized statement, but it holds to be quite true."

There's not a speck of vineyard art to be found in Hammerfriar's five rooms. Instead, there are devastatingly beautiful Michael Garlington photos—one of a dark-haired woman cradling a fish, another of fellow-artist Laura Kimpton in a feather mask. There are also several Frank Miller panels, which draw the viewer through vast landscapes of what look like rusted metal bits—painted plastic in reality, hence the lawn stake—to either a sunlit horizon or a narrow window full of stars.

The exhibits aren't unified thematically, but Plamann, whose successful frame shop allows her to show artists she's drawn to rather than simply pieces that will sell, says there are several conceptual elements she repeatedly features.

"Usually the work will be dealing with humanity, very often time, the passage of time, and space," she says. "I'm really a spatial person myself. I see things up and down and all around, and I love that feeling in my brain, even to the point where the space between you and me—the invisible space—is really important to me."

Plamann moves her entire body while she speaks—rocking back and forth, throwing her hands outward and placing them on either side of her head. She looks away as she talks, as though she's visualizing her words in the invisible space just to her right. A conceptual artist herself, Plamann graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a degree in painting—and then never painted again.

Instead, she undertakes projects such as making a plaster cast of herself, painting it pink and mounting it, along with a suspended light box, it in front of three 12-foot-by-8-foot panels. She's often inspired by single sentences, which will prompt a creation session that she calls "going off into my wonderland until I get it."

She hasn't been able to do much work lately, she says, because the frame shop and gallery take up so much time. But with its evocative moss, feather and birdcage installations, Hammerfriar itself is an installation to be proud of.

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