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Honoring the Arts

The Bohemian's 16th 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 pop 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—these are the people who run the show but rarely get noticed.

Every year, for 16 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 and places include Martin Hamilton, who's turned the Arlene Francis Center into the eye of a cutting-edge art and music storm in Santa Rosa; the Sonoma County Museum, long overdue to be honored, not just for top-notch art exhibits but for its role in our communal history and new outreach programs and expansion; Point Reyes Books, which brings top literary names to West Marin and hosts the Geography of Hope conference; Sheila-Groves Tracey, who for 26 years has brought thousands of bands to play in every county in the North Bay; and the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, a little idea that's blossomed, 25 years later, into an organization we can't imagine living without.

The following profiles will tell you 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 performance 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.

You can help us celebrate this year's Boho Award winners in a special soiree on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts (282 S. High St., Sebastopol; admission $5). Starting at 5:30pm and replete with performances by the Transcendence Theatre Co. and our own David Templeton, it'll feature food, drinks, winners, toasts, speeches from all winners, 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


An irreplaceable hub of art and community


With all of the dancing, craft beer, young artists in glitter and leather and compelling conversation happening in the shadows of an edgy, colorful Bud Snow mural, a recent block party outside the Sonoma County Museum could have been mistaken for a night out in Brooklyn or Los Angeles.

Next door, as the moon rose high in the sky, art lovers checked out work by Tina Modotti, Edward Weston and Graciela Iturbide, part of a "Photography in Mexico" exhibition on loan from the SFMOMA, while upstairs in museum offices, developing plans to expand and offer even more art to the community percolated.

This stellar evening of art and community is just one example of how the area's only collecting art and history museum between San Francisco and Portland has ramped up programming, outreach and exhibitions in the North Bay since visionary executive director Diane Evans (pictured) took over the reins in 2008. And these are just a few of the many reasons why it's about time we give the Sonoma County Museum a long overdue, well-deserved Boho Award.

Evans says that the museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, has been in expansion mode for the past five years but has lacked the physical space needed to put on the kinds of art and history exhibitions they'd like to host. After shelving a plan to move the contemporary art collection into the old AT&T building located on Third Street in Santa Rosa, it was announced that the museum would instead take over the building at 505 B St., previously leased to Conklin Bros. This leaves the 1910 Post Office building as the designated spot for the museum's vast historical archives, managed by Eric Stanley.

Evans wasted no time enlisting three local artists, Julia Davis (who signs her murals "Bud Snow"), Judy Kennedy and Carlos de Villasante to dress the non-descript brown building in gorgeous, street-art-inspired murals, establishing a trend toward collaborative relationships with young and emerging arts in Sonoma County. The museum has also put out a call for artists, dancers and musicians to stage pop-up events in the large, currently empty warehouse space as funds are raised to build a new art museum.

"Our future is exciting, as SCM has a real opportunity to become a significant art center for the region," explains Evans, citing the property's debt-free status and strong programming, board and staff. "This will allow us to build our art collection—something we have not been able to do without dedicated exhibition and storage space. At the same time, we will finally be able to bring our collections out from storage and develop a focused regional history program."

Currently, the museum houses a collection of 20,000 artworks and historic objects.

In addition to fine art, the museum's programming tends to cover all aspects of life in Sonoma County. Recent exhibitions have included "Margins to Mainstream," which focused on artists with disabilities in the region; a history exhibition about Santa Rosa's Chinatown that shed light on a little-known area of the city's past; and body mapping workshops, funded through the Irvine Foundation, which shared the stories of immigrants in Sonoma County.

In 2014, museum-goers can look forward to exhibitions with work by contemporary Korean artists from Jeju Island, a sister city of Santa Rosa. Also in the wings is a retrospective of Magnolia Editions studio, featuring works by Chuck Close, Hung Lieu and William Wiley, and an exhibition focusing on the emergence of the environmental movement in California.

Evans says there will also be a continued focus on art workshops dedicated to collecting stories from immigrant communities.

"Our focus is on bringing outstanding exhibitions and education programs to Sonoma County that cannot be seen elsewhere in the region," explains Evans, who plans on working with collectors and artists to expand the collection now that the physical space is available. "My favorite exhibitions are those where we've been able to make strong connections with artists, museums and communities both in the county and around the world."—Leilani Clark

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