The Sonoma County Museum’s new Outdoor Sculpture Garden, its latest in a series of planned upgrades, was dedicated last Sunday at festive reception for donors and museum members. The community is invited to embrace the new space by having lunch there on Thursdays through September when entrance to the garden will be free. The new garden is located in a previously empty third of an acre lot at A & 7th Streets in Santa Rosa, next to the Sonoma County Museum (SCM) and features 10 works by 7 North Bay artists– Carroll Barnes, Roger Berry, Edwin Hamilton, Bruce Johnson, Ned Kahn, Pat Lenz and Hugh Livingston.
The project cost roughly $200,000 and the garden was designed by San Rafael architect Fred Warneke. The grounds themselves were landscaped by JLP Landscape Contracting of Santa Rosa with native trees, shrubs and grasses supplementing the magnolia and redwood trees already there and a back iron fence with a trellis gate entry surrounds the area. The artworks are on long-term loan to the museum from the artists with the exception of the sound installation by Hugh Livingston, which was commissioned, and Cazadero sculptor Bruce Johnson’s enormous wood and copper “Sequoia” (2,000), which the museum owns. “Sequoia,” is a split open old growth sequoia tree whose interior was milled out with a chain saw and lined in copper and is meant to be walked through. The 16 foot tall piece required an upgrade in its retrofitting before it could be relocated from its east site on the museum to the new garden locale on the west. (Click here to see a SCM photo album devoted to “Sequoia’s” move.)
Sunday’s celebration was also a fundraiser to support the museum’s Collection Initiative, a long range program developed by Diane Evans, the museum’s executive director and Eric Stanley, its history curator, to manage the museum’s collection which encompasses some 20,000 artworks and historical pieces. Currently, the vast majority of this collection is in storage due to lack of space.
In April, 2011, the museum was awarded a $300, 000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) five-year Challenge Grant, designated for its Collection Initiative. This was quite an honor as just two of these challenge grants were awarded in all of California for 2010. According to Evans, the grant requires SCM to raise $900,000 over the next five years in matching funds. The grant and matching dollars together will total $1.2 million, which will be designated toward an endowment for the support of staffing to care for and manage the museum’s extensive collections, as well as funds to ensure safe long-term collections storage. The museum must raise $60,000 by July 31, 2011 to meet the grant’s first stage. Evans reported Sunday that the museum had raised about $20,000 so far. All of the funding raised must be allocated to the Collections Initiative and cannot support other museum programs or campaigns.
Meanwhile, the museum’s expansion plans are on track for occupying space in the former AT&T building after its remodel is completed next year. Contemporary artworks will be displayed in that new space and the present locale, the historic old post office building, will then be devoted to the museum’s vast collection of historical objects. Highlights of the SCM’s collection include the Song Wong Bourbeau Collection of some 200 photographs and artifacts which represents the rich history and culture of Santa Rosa’s Chinatown, and the Tom Golden Collection of artworks by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
Those visiting the new outdoor sculpture garden this month will have the chance to see Hugh Livingston tweaking his 16 channel sound installation which uses sound bites captured from the Russian River. The piece has the most conceptual angle among the ten and also corners the market for humor– it looks and sounds like city water infrastructure on steroids. In fact, many guests at Sunday’s reception didn’t even realize it was art, which is fine with Livingston who likes making a “subtle point”. Livingston explained that it was “too noisy” with all the landscaping and irrigation set-up going on to actually hear what he was doing, so he will be adjusting his 16 gurgling green ports over the coming weeks.
Lunchtime: Every Thursday, from June 30 through September 29, 2011, from 11:30am – 1:30pm, Ultracrepes mobile family-operated food truck will be on site selling gourmet savory and dessert crepes made with natural ingredients for $5 to $7, along with a variety of refreshments. Visitors are encouraged to sit and eat and linger in the garden, taking in the works which have been loaned to the museum on a long-term basis by the artists.
Upcoming activities in the garden:
June 30: Claire Gustavson Art Class
July 7: Jessica Jarvis and partner (Jazz duo/acoustic jazz guitar and singer)
July 14: Katie Godec (singer)
July 21: Claire Gustavson Art Class
Details: Admission is FREE for Lunchtime in the Garden; regular museum admission applies to visit current exhibitions. The Sonoma County Museum is located at 425 7th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Museum Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11am-5pm. Information: 707.579 .1500
Directions: Sonoma County Museum is just steps away from Downtown Santa Rosa and Historic Railroad Square. From Highway 101 Heading North, take the 3rd St/Downtown Exit from Hwy 101, turn right at 3rd Street and then left at B Street. Travel 3/4 mile and turn left at 7th Street. The museum is on your right.