Geneva Anderson digs into art

Green Music Center’s Sunrise Choral Concert…..ARThound chats with Jean Schulz

Jean Schulz on Robert Ellison’s “Bar Note Bench,” which Schulz purchased and gave to Sonoma State University for its Green Music Center. The bench is installed outside the Green Music Center education building. “Bar Note Bench,” 2′ x 7’6” x 5’3″, 900 pounds, painted steel. Photo: Geneva Anderson

I saw Jeannie Schulz at this morning’s Sunrise Choral Concert at Weill Hall and grabbed her for a quick chat about Sonoma State University’s new art collection for the Green Music Center. Schulz, widow of Peanuts cartoonist Charles “Sparky” Schulz and President of the Board of Directors at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, purchased the late Penngrove sculptor Robert Ellison’s “Bar Note Bench” after seeing it displayed at Walter Byck’s Paradise Ridge Winery and donated it to the university several years ago.  It was the second piece the university acquired for the collection and is currently installed in front of the Green Music Education building. Schulz is a long-time supporter of Sonoma State University, and donated $5 million toward the construction of Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center, naming the hall after her late husband’s beloved Peanuts piano-playing character, Schroeder.

On the way to photograph her in front of “Bar Note Bench,” she told me that she was “touched and very surprised” when she glanced at the program for this morning’s choral concert and saw that the song “Love Is our Lot,” sung by soprano Carol Menke, had been dedicated to her. She said that when she was watching Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus on stage, when she sees any group of children, she always looks at all their faces and expressions and tries to find the child that is her. “I always look for myself—for the kid that I was, what I looked like and acted like— and I think about what lies ahead, what will happen.  I do that all the time. When I ask other people if they do that, they say ‘no’ and that surprises me.”

And, of course, the piece of art, that she purchased from Dr. Walter Byck —a steel bench that evokes 4 upward pointing sixteenth notes joined by a double beam—evokes memories of Schroeder, playing Beethoven on his tiny toy piano.

“I saw Bob Ellison’s bench up at Paradise Ridge after I’d given the gift, so I knew the hall was going to be Schroeder Hall,” said Schulz. “I thought it was really clever, whimsical, and also a little cartoonish and I wanted it. I thought, if they don’t like it, I’ll keep it for the museum. I asked Don (Green) to go up and see it, because I wanted to make sure it pleased him, and he liked it too. Years passed and I kept writing to Walter and telling him not to lose track of that bench and I held on to that receipt.”

“It’s really exciting that they have finally achieved this,” said Schulz. “Maybe that’s the good part of it all taking so long to come together. People had chance to really think about what they wanted and to express more of their dreams about what might happen here than if it had all gone as planned.  People usually say ‘I wish I’d thought of that.’  They’ve had time.”

Schulz envisions that if, the circumstances were correct with security and light exposure, that her Charles M. Schulz Museum would also collaborate with the GMC and lend works for temporary display in its new mezzanine exhibition area, like the Sonoma County Museum has done with the 10 Christo collages from its prestigious Tom Golden Collection.

What’s it like to sit on that bench? “This steel is really pretty cold,” remarked Jeannie.

No worries, the sun will come out.

Speaking of seats, where is Jean Schultz sitting in Weill Hall?  “I was sitting in the (parterre) box with the Weills this morning but I selected a permanent seat in the balcony.  I like that view. I didn’t particularly want to sit down low in front.  I never have.”

ARThound is publishing a feature on the art collection this coming week, so stay tuned.

Snoopy and Friends Go to the Orchestra: The Peanuts Gang found their way from the comics page to Carnegie Hall and you can hear them next Sunday, October 7, 2012, at the debut concert of the Green Music Center’s new family series.  Richard Loheyde conducts with Kymry Esainko on piano while Marcy Smothers narrates.  Musical sketches from Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Peanuts Gallery for Piano and Orchestra such as “Snoopy Does the Samba,” “Charlie Brown’s Lament,” and “Lucy Freaks Out” will capture each character in turn. The spotlight focuses on superheroes with John Williams’ Superman March and movie music from Spiderman and Batman: The Dark Knight. Also on the program, a medley of familiar Looney Tunes cartoon music, which inspires Bugs Bunny to say “What Up at the Symphony?”

Pre-concert fun starts one hour before each concert. Come early and visit the GMC’s Instrument Petting Zoo. Sunday, October 14, 3:00 pm at Weill Hall.  Tickets: $39 adults; $24 youth

September 30, 2012 Posted by | Art, Classical Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tennis Icon Billy Jean King visits Santa Rosa’s Schulz museum tomorrow, Sunday, January 15, 2012

Billy Jean King will speak at the Schulz Museum on Sunday, January 15, 2012 in conjunction with its “Leveling the Playing Field Exhibition” marking the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. Charles M. Schulz standing with Billie Jean King at the Snoopy Cup tennis tournament in 1984 at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena. Photo: Cheryl Traendly Photography.

Famed former tennis pro Billie Jean King won six Wimbledon singles championships and four U.S. open titles.  She was ranked number one in the world for five years and beat esteemed players Martina Navratilova, Chris Every and Margaret Court.  Among all her matches though, the one most remembered occurred on September. 20, 1973, before a crowd of more than 30,000 at the Houston Astrodome, when she beat former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Bobby Riggs in a match dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes.”  King, then 29, beat the 55-year-old retired Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 who had boasted that he could beat any woman.  From that victory forward, King became synonymous with the battle for equality in sports.  Appropriately, King, a personal friend of the late Charles M. Schulz will participate in a moderated conversation and sign autographs speak at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center this Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 1 p.m. in conjunction with their Leveling the Playing Field exhibition of 86 original “Peanuts” strips by Schulz, celebrating women in sports and the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation that ensures equal access for both men and women in federally-funded educational programs and activities, including sports. 

Leveling the Playing Field features Schulz’s even-handed depiction of girls in sports through his  Peanuts comic strips and it also provides an overview of women’s sports history, and examples of women’s sports attire from the 1880s to the present.  The exhibition details Schulz’s connections in the world of women’s sports, his friendship with Billie Jean King, and his early years coaching a local women’s softball team.

After Schulz met Billie Jean King, he focused on the issue of females in sports with a multi-day storyline in 1979 about Title IX in his comic strip. Schulz brought attention to women athletes by mentioning contemporary female sports stars and having his girl characters participate in a wide variety of sports, from football to figure skating.  From Peppermint Patty’s athletic dominance to Lucy’s ineptitude in the right field to Marcie’s total bewilderment with sports of all kinds, the girls in Peanuts were always equal participants.

 In 1990 Schulz said, “I think Billie Jean King would certainly have to be in my top three as one of my heroes. She did so much for women’s sports.  And she’s such a bright lady and so involved in everything she’s done.”

Schulz died in 2000 after writing and drawing his comic strip for nearly 50 years.

Details: Leveling the Playing Field runs through August 12, 2012 at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa.  Museum admission: $5-$10; children 4 and under free.  Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.  Closed Tuesdays.  Information: 707.579.4452  or

Billie Jean King will participate in a moderated conversation and sign autographs starting at 1:00 p.m. at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center, Sunday, January 15, 2012.  Seating is on a first come, first served basis, so plan on arriving early.

January 14, 2012 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Peanuts turns 60, the Mahoney Library Gallery explores “Peanuts in Petaluma”…through October 30, 2010

You don’t have to twist any arms to get long-time Petalumans to talk about wristrestling. For those of us who grew up in Petaluma in the 1960’s, wristwrestling and Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comics, which appeared in both the Argus Courier and Press Democrat newspapers, were an integral part of our lives. “Peanuts Comes to Petaluma,” at the Mahoney Library Gallery through October 30, gives us a chance to look back on those days through the genius of Schulz as a storyteller and one of the great artists of our time. 

Between April and May 1968, Schultz created 11 Peanuts comic strips, all related to Snoopy coming to Petaluma to win the Petaluma World Wristwrestling Championship.   The Charles M. Schulz Museum, of Santa Rosa, has generously lent the Mahoney Library Gallery full size high-resolution scans of all Schulz’s original 4 panel gag strip drawings related to wristwrestling in Petaluma.  These are scans of ink drawings with each panel measuring about 4 x 4 inches.   The series tracks Snoopy’s pilgrimage to Petaluma to compete and his exploits with iconic Peanuts characters Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy.  

Snoopy was so memorable, loveable, because we all could read his mind as his very human thoughts unfolded.   Schulz knew that most dog lovers and owners felt that they alone had special insights into their dogs’ thoughts and in creating Snoopy he gave us a dog who we could rely on to be himself, even when he was doing something crazy.  In imagining himself capable of entering and winning the world’s wristwrestling championship, Snoopy channeled the inner sportsman in all of us– and the traveler and the dreamer.  Never mind that almost everything Snoopy tried, ended him up back in his doghouse laid out flat, tired, but he was never ever defeated.  Unfortunately, Snoopy did not thoroughly read the instructions before embarking on his journey to Petaluma.  In the final strip, he was eliminated because the official armwrestling rules stated you must lock your thumbs with the opposing competitor.  Snoopy had no thumb.

The "Wristwrestling Memorial Sculpture," 1988, by artist Rosa Estabanez features World Wristwrestling founders Bill Soberanes and Dave Devoto locked arm in arm.

Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages. Reprints of the strip are still syndicated and run in many newspapers.

 The exhibition also includes a rich archive of historical materials—books, newspaper clippings and photographs–that Mahoney librarian and gallery curator, Karen Petersen, has collected   about Charles Schulz and wristwrestling in Petaluma.  There is also information about sculptor Rosa Estabanez, who created the Wristwrestling Memorial Sculpture in 1988, which quickly became a downtown Petaluma landmark (intersection of Petaluma Blvd. North and East Washington Street).  The sculpture commemorates the late Argus Courier columnist Bill Soberanes, co-founder of the Petaluma World Wristwrestling Championship, along with Dave Devoto who is depicted wristwrestling Soberanes in the sculpture. The Mahoney Library Gallery exhibition coincides with the sculpture’s restoration undertaken by the city of Petaluma.

The “Peanuts” exhibit is funded by a grant from the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation, the Randolph Newman Cultural Enrichment Endowment, and is being displayed courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California.


Snoopy turns 60 and there’s a nationwide celebration

The exhibition also coincides with the 60th anniversary of Peanuts comic strip and there are a number of events happening nationwide to celebrate Schulz’s achievement.

Portraits of Schulz” October 1 – February 6, 2011, Charles M Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa, CA.  An exhibition celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Peanuts though portraits of Schulz.  See rare self-portraits by Schulz, as well as how fellow artists captured and admired him through their own art in a mixture of mediums from oil paintings to sculptures. This exhibition will run concurrently with the debut of Schulz’s photographic portrait in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

A photograph Charles Schulz will be presented to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in a ceremony for invited guests on October 1, 2010. The 1986 photograph, created by acclaimed portraitist Yousuf Karsh, is the Portrait Gallery’s first image of Schulz.

Charles Schulz, by Yousuf Karsh. Chromogenic print, 1986. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh ©1986 Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

On October 2, the National Portrait Gallery will host a family-and-friends day with events for all ages: cartooning workshops; a screening of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; and guest appearances from Snoopy and Peanuts animation producer Lee Mendelson.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will also mark the 60th anniversary with a case that will feature objects from Schulz.

Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz  Author Beverly Gherman’s all-ages biography on the Schulz, an insightful look into the life and career Charles Schulz. Gherman will be at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco from 1:00-3:00pm on Saturday, October 9, 2010 signing books and leading a discussion about Schulz.

 “Peanuts Comes to Petaluma,” through October 30, 2010, Mahoney Library Gallery, Mahoney Library, Petaluma Campus SRJC, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway, Petaluma, CA  94952.

Gallery Hours:   Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m – 3 p.m.

Parking: $4.00 parking permits required in campus lots.  Automated machines take cash and coins.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

film event– the Premiere that means the most…Wolfram Hissen will show “The Running Fence Revisited” to Sonoma County June 23-25, 2010

German filmmaker Wolfram Hissen shooting footage for "The Running Fence Revisited" in September 2009 in Valley Ford at a celebratory gathering with Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

Filmmaker Wolfram Hissen of est-West films  will screen his new documentary film “The Running Fence Revisited” in Sonoma County this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.   The 47 minute documentary, shot almost exclusively in Sonoma and Marin Counties recounts the events and personalites that shaped Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s iconic Running Fence project in 1976.   The film premiered in April in Washington D.C. at the opening of the exhibition “Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Remembering the Running Fence,”  at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art. 

The farmers and people near and dear to the project are planning to attend Wednesday evening’s Union Hotel reception and screening.  Following each screening, Hissen will discuss his film and take audience questions.  The screenings are hosted by the Sonoma County Museum and the Charles M. Schulz Museum, and sponsored by the Friends of the Running Fence, the Union Hotel, and the Sonoma County Tourism Board.   

  • Wednesday, June 23 at the Union Hotel in Occidental – SOLD OUT!
  • Thursday, June 24 at the Charles M. Schulz Museum theater – SOLD OUT!
  • Friday, June 25 at the Charles M. Schulz Museum theater – SOLD OUT!

All screenings are currently sold out, but you may call 707.579.1500 be added to the Waiting List.

All shows start at 7:15pm with a small reception prior, starting at 6:30 pm.

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment