New Murals in Sonoma Valley Go on Display with Community Celebration

In March 2021, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) announced that Mexican-born and Santa Rosa-raised artist Maria de Los Angeles would create two major murals as part of a building rehab project in Glen Ellen.

This month, the murals will finally go on display; and SVMA–along with sponsors Holly and Stephen Sorkin–hosts a daylong gathering to celebrate the occasion. The free event happens on Saturday, July 10, from 11am to 4pm, at the murals’ location at 13647 Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen.

Currently living on the East Coast, De Los Angeles immigrated to the North Bay from Mexico at age 11 with her family. She began making art as a child and graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 2006. Bolstered by selling artwork to friends and neighbors in Santa Rosa, De Los Angeles continued her art education at Pratt Institute and then earned an MFA at Yale University.

She has subsequently taught at the Pratt Institute in Venice, and participated in artist-in-residence programs at Los Angeles County Museum, MASS MOCA and elsewhere. De Los Angeles wrote about her childhood and early adult experiences in the feature article, “A Dreamer’s Diary,” published in the Bohemian in March 2017.

De Los Angeles’ colorful work often reveals simultaneous narratives that slowly unfold to the viewer. Themes often reference ancestors, transition, journey, and basic humanity, among other themes, and often also include a positive focus on serenity, love, and peace.

The murals coming to Glen Ellen are part of a building rehab project, and the artwork includes historical and cultural iconography that is specific to the Sonoma Valley.

Earlier this year, de Los Angeles spent several months researching the history and culture of the region, including interviewing the many diverse community members for inspiration.

Following the research process, de Los Angles actually painted the murals in her New Jersey studio by utilizing an innovative process known as the mural cloth process. The cloth process allows her to create the murals in her art studio rather than painting them directly onto a building or wall facade.

After delivery from the artist’s studio, the mural cloth will be mounted by local installer Sarah Zbinden.  De Los Angeles will then retouch the murals in Glen Ellen as needed after the installation. 

“It’s a public work to promote conversation about shared experience,” says de Los Angeles.

De Los Angeles will be on hand for this week’s community celebration on July 10, and the event will unveil the murals with an afternoon of music, dance, art projects, food and presentations by local dignitaries.

“SVMA is delighted to curate this special public art project,” says Linda Keaton, SVMA executive director. “These murals are a great way to explore and discuss the cultural history of Glen Ellen. Maria and the entire team have done extensive research and outreach about the region, and Maria has incorporated that research into the mural design.”

“We are grateful to SVMA for curating this visually engaging and culturally relevant public art,” says co-sponsor Stephen Sorkin. “These murals provide an opportunity for the community to celebrate those who have built Glen Ellen and explore the complex history of Sonoma Valley.”

Get details on the upcoming community celebration at SVMA.org.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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