Though she's an East Coast native, artist and educator Angela Zocco Sturr has called Sonoma County home for 22 years. "I've been here longer than anywhere else," she says. She moved here when her husband took a position teaching at Santa Rosa Junior College.
In addition to being a painter and ceramics artist, Sturr currently teaches art and garden classes at Apple Blossom Elementary School in Sebastopol, where her now-grown children attended. She's also a longtime volunteer docent at the Laguna Foundation's Learning Laguna program, where she leads outdoor education programs and field trips through the Laguna de Santa Rosa, which borders Sebastopol and Santa Rosa, for elementary school students during the fall and spring seasons.
"I found out how amazing our habitat here is," says Sturr. "With the wetlands—the Laguna—being a watershed for the area. It's not something that's apparent when we drive on Highway 12—we don't think of it as an ecosystem."
Sturr is currently displaying a new exhibit of acrylic paintings and multi-media works—inspired by the natural wonders of the Laguna de Santa Rosa—in the Laguna Environmental Center's Heron Hall. The exhibit, titled "Into the Fold," displays the landscapes and wildlife of the Laguna, sometimes in abstract terms.
"The show is about the things we appreciate and about where we live," says Sturr.
That appreciation comes to form in various artistic styles, with some paintings focusing on Laguna wildlife—such as hawks and rabbits—and showing colorful, flourishing attention to detail. Some works use tule, a plant that grows in the wetlands, woven into necklaces representing various Laguna birds.
Other works in the exhibit are entirely abstract, with imagined shapes assembled together to create fictional landscapes inspired by the shapes of the Laguna.
It's that abstract technique Sturr shares with the public in an upcoming painting workshop, "Conjuring the Laguna through Abstraction," taking place at Heron Hall on Aug. 17.
'The technique that I'm teaching is a controlled abstraction," she says. "Though Heron Hall has beautiful views outside, we're going to be inside using shapes to invent a landscape. There's a lot of freedom in that because you can make choices as it evolves."
The workshop is open to all skill levels, and will emphasize creative expression, while offering strategies for mixing and creating colors, as well as other pointers.
"There isn't a wrong thing to do," Sturr says. "Sometimes in art, we need someone to allow us to go somewhere (artistically) and help us see something, then we can pick the baton up and keep going."