Look around the new Vibe Gallery in downtown Petaluma and you will see displays of featured artists interwoven with pieces from the four “home artists,” the women whose dream it has been to open this intersectional community art space.
Not a dream one lazily wakes from, mind you, but more of a fever dream, all sweat and passion jolting one from sleep. After all, this dream was only months in the making.
The idea came to the four fast friends just this May as they contemplated how to evolve the reinvigorated art scene so many of us have plugged into during the pandemic.
Maude Bradley, Margo Gallagher, Jessica Jacobsen, and Rachel Usher are here to tell us it’s time to get off our screens.
“All my art was pretty much virtual,” Gallagher says. “Let’s just bring it down to brick and mortar, let’s meet in person, let’s feel the art vibe. You know, bring it here and come on in.”
As Usher describes it, a “kickoff meeting … turned into a blastoff meeting.” They signed the lease 10 days from that first meeting, she adds with a giggle, laughing from that place between delirium and joy.
Gallagher reached out to her deep network of artists and art fans to find out what was lacking, what people were looking for. That underscored the mission to support voices new to Petaluma, diverse voices that ADD something to the art scene, not take away from other galleries.
“What [we find so] exciting about [this] mission is having a platform for all different types of artists to feel that they have a home here and have a place to share that craft,” Jacobsen says.
“That feeling of things that are tangible and that are visceral and that they stay with you and that’s so much of the part of the healing process [of art],” Bradley says. “Art has really helped carry me through different challenges in my life in this really profound, healing way.”
It is obvious that this was a project that had to happen. The four agree that the perseverance to make the gallery happen is a performative act in itself. Going for it serves as an inspiration to the very art community they wish to invigorate.
“We want people to feel like they are taking away something from this experience that’s resounding,” Bradley says. “It is home to them and inspires them.”
That inclusive use of the word “home” again. The team is more than the four women. Family, friends, and community helped to build this home.
“We want it to be a hub, you know a place where people feel at home and they feel that they can share their love of art,” Jacobsen says. “Whether it’s people who make art or people who just appreciate art.”
Coming to the gallery, visitors will become participants, through elegant ideas like open art tables with interactive, collaborative projects laid out for anyone to lend a hand to, or intersectional workshops inviting those gathered to engage with art-in-the-world.
What does home mean to an artist? “Connecting with other artists and other creative people,” Usher says. “Amazing, creative people.”