A Project to Advance a Vibrant Arts Community and Arts Center
in the Lower Russian River Region
The idea of having a dynamic and active arts organization in Guerneville, with the further goal of having an Arts and Community Center, has been a long-sought wish of many in the community. While Guerneville has, in the last decade or so, begun to establish itself at an arts-oriented town, with about a dozen galleries, a theater group, a community choir and numerous other creative activities, no organization has emerged to proactively support, encourage and champion the arts; nor is there an arts center, which nearly every other town in Sonoma County has.
In March of 2021 a group of artists and others came together to form the nucleus of River Arts. In coordination with County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins the establishment of an actual Arts and Community Center is within reach.
In order to launch this organization, activate the community and build support for such a center, River Arts is proceeding to enact an ambitious pilot agenda of events and programs for 2022.
The major programs planned are:
1. Saturday Stroll Artwalk: We have revived and are coordinating the First Friday Artwalk (suspended during COVID) and moved it to the first Saturday of each month at the behest of the galleries. We plan to expand it this year with music, street vendors, food, and more.
2. Murals Project: We wish to put Guerneville on the map as a murals and public art destination. We have identified over 30 possible mural locations. We hope to create 5-6 murals during 2022 and a similar number each year thereafter for a number of years. We intend to invite public participation in some of the murals, including ones that will be done all or primarily by children.
Even after the first set of murals are complete, we see this project extending into the future as a public art project, with continuous creation of public art throughout Guerneville.
3. Summer Art Festival: We are planning a Summer Arts Festival in September.
The Festival will be centered around the iconic “old bridge” in the center of town, which is now a walking bridge over the Russian River, and will spill out into the town plaza on the north side of the bridge and the small park on the south side of the bridge.
4. Winter Crafts Fair: We are planning for a Winter Crafts Fair in December 2022.
5. Music in the Galleries: We are planning to have an occasional series of music events in certain galleries during 2022. We are seeking unusual or unique music that would be suitable for a gallery space. Our first event is an appearance by “4 Shillings Short” (https://4shillingsshort.com/home) at the Oli Gallery on April 5.
6. Art Auction: We have teamed with Forgotten Felines for an online Art Auction in Spring 2022.
7. CalTrans Coordination: River Arts is working to interact with CalTrans to beautify Guerneville and bring an aesthetic sense to the town that will be attractive to residents and visitors alike.
8. Arts District: River Arts is intending to apply for Cultural (Arts) district status with the state of California once the program re-opens for applications.
The overriding goal of all of these programs is to knit together a stronger sense of community identity and kinship through the creative works and participation of all members of the community.
Each of these is a pilot project. We will start off small, but our goal is that, over time, these will grow and develop into significant programs that will put the lower Russian River on the map as an arts destination.