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

Thursday is Lunchtime in the Sonoma County Museum’s New Outdoor Sculpture Garden!

Ned Kahn's Vapor Fountain (steel, aluminum, 2011) happily bubbled away at last Sunday's inauguration of the Sonoma County Museum's new outdoor sculpture garden. Kahn is an internationally recognized artist who frequently works with water and natural elements. The fountain marks the entrance to the garden which also contains the works of 6 other Northern CA Artists. Photo: Geneva Anderson

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.)  

At 16 feet tall, Cazadero sculptor Bruce Johnson's "Sequoia" is a focal point of the Sonoma County Museum's new outdoor sculpture garden. The hollowed-out old growth sequoia was relocated from the east side of the museum to the new garden on the west side with much fanfare. Photo: Geneva Anderson

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.

Hugh Livingston's subtle 16 Channel Sound Installation is a work in progress at the Sonoma County Museum's new outdoor sculpture garden. Livingston placed 16 (round green) units around the garden that emit gurgling water sounds recorded at the Russian River over the past year. Photo: Geneva Anderson

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

Current Exhibitions:  Gertrud Parker: An Artist and Collector and Pat Lenz: Nobody’s Poodle, both through September 11, 2011.

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.

June 29, 2011 Posted by | Art, Sonoma County Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment