On Saturday, March 20, five very different female artists from around the country will come together to open Sonoma County’s newest art gallery, Legion Projects in Healdsburg.
Situated a half-mile north of the Healdsburg Plaza, sun-lit and intimate gallery space is operated by recent Sonoma County transplant Sydney Pfaff.
Legion Projects’ inaugural exhibit, “Something To Look Forward To,” explores how each featured artist coped with isolation and other adverse effects caused by the global pandemic.
Yet, rather than a depressing meditation on loss, the uplifting exhibition of paintings will offer the glimmers of hope and happiness that each artist found from the past year.
Before opening Legion Projects, Pfaff first operated a boutique store named Legion in San Francisco, which opened in the Chinatown neighborhood in 2013.
“It was in an old herb shop that had been vacant and derelict for a dozen years or so,” Pfaff says. “I turned it into this little boutique.”
The store sold women’s clothes and home goods downstairs, and incorporated a gallery upstairs in the shop’s loft space. The gallery soon became the main aspect of the business.
“I like change, I like keeping things moving, I don’t like to stay still in the same place for a long time,” Pfaff says.
Thus, Legion moved locations within Chinatown and then moved to Sutter Street among a row of galleries in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill in 2018. Pfaff took on a few employees, and last year decided to move to Healdsburg and commute a few days a week to the gallery. Then, the pandemic hit.
“I moved up here regardless,” she says. “Actually the week of the shutdown, which was a very strange time to move. But, I fell in love with it here. I knew I needed to be here.”
Realizing that it did not make sense to keep the store in the city during the shutdown, Pfaff handed the space over to a friend who renamed it Glass Rice.
“We collaborate on shows together,” Pfaff says. “So it worked out.”
Suddenly finding herself in Healdsburg with nowhere to go, Pfaff wrestled with the idea of opening a new gallery locally.
“In my mind, I thought maybe this is it, things are so crazy and uncertain,” Pfaff says. “But, I knew I wasn’t done. I still have so many artists I want to work with, I have so many shows I want to do. I love Healdsburg and I really felt that a new contemporary art gallery would benefit the community.”
After looking at several spaces, Pfaff found the small space at 711A Healdsburg Avenue, north of the Plaza. “It has this good energy, incredible light, and its about the same square footage as my last space,” Pfaff. “So, it just felt right.”
As a gallery, Legion Projects will focus on up-and-coming artists from the Bay Area and beyond who are redefining contemporary art styles. Now, shows at Legion Projects are booked for the next 12 months, beginning with “Something To Look Forward To,” running March 20 to May 1.
The five artists featured in “Something To Look Forward To” are Jessica Martin, Chelsea Wong, Miranda Evans, Lindsey Cuenca Walker and Laura Berger.
Martin is a Healdsburg-based artist who recently organized the “Illuminations” public light art installations throughout town. Her geometrically inspired paintings and sculpture connect time and space.
Wong’s paintings and murals reflect the diverse styles of her home in San Francisco. Los Angles-based Evans resolves inner conflicts through self-portraiture and symbolism. Walker’s recent series of floral still life paintings was composed at her kitchen table in Portland, Oregon. Chicago-based Berger creates compositions featuring the female archetype as the subject.
“They created the works for the show, and it has to be work created during the pandemic that explores their emotions,” Pfaff says. “I’m a fan of uplifting things, I want to be more encouraged and inject some positivity, and the show really did that for me.”
“Something To Look Forward To” opens to the public with a distanced art reception on Saturday, March 20, from 11am to 5pm. Only five people will be allowed in the gallery at a time, and masks are required indoors. Pfaff is also taking advantage of the large outdoor space that the gallery sits on to pour local wines and provide treats by new local bakery, Quail & Condor, while supplies last.
“I wanted to do something to celebrate the artists and the opening, and this huge new pivot for me in life,” Pfaff says. “But, we want to do it safe and in the way that makes people comfortable.”