.Newcomers Art Project Launches

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Some art movements announce themselves with a manifesto (looking at you, Dada), and others email a press release to a local alt-weekly and mount an exhibition showcasing their distinct and unique visions. The Newcomers Art Project did all of the above.

Featuring seven artists, all women aged 22 to 37, the show presents an intriguing mix of indoor and outdoor venues in Santa Rosa’s SOFA district, showcasing the visions of emerging artists, including Annabelle Anderson, Charlie Bird, Jacyln Finkle, Amelia Ketzer-Dean, Katey Marin, Keviette Minor, Alina Nuebel and… The Velvet Bandit.

The moniker “Newcomer” was deliberately chosen to represent the groups that are relatively new to the professional art scene and have rarely had the opportunity to exhibit their work before.

PROCESS Artist Charlie Bird will show ‘Garbage King’ among other works at the exhibition.

“Unknown Comic Book Characters or Portraits,” the show’s theme, invites artists and attendees alike to delve into the realms of imagination and uncharted territories of creativity and identity.

“Cartoon animated imagery is an art vernacular that’s been growing for quite a while—since Andy Warhol—it’s just a positive and popular image, it’s a common everyday man image and visual language that’s common with common people, and so that pulls in common people,” says Nick Mancillas, an established artist and educator. “The comic image and its visual language is very easy to access and can be light and uplifting, so that’s why we landed on this theme.”

The genesis of the Newcomers show can be traced back, in part, to Mancillas, who has nurtured hundreds of students over the last 30 years as a high school teacher. When it was time for Mancillas’ annual exhibition slot at Santa Rosa’s Backstreet Building, where he keeps a studio, he opted to host the Newcomers group show as a parting gift to the art community as he transitions from educator to full-time artist. Mancillas partnered with fellow artist Mary Vaughn to organize the show.

The Newcomers Art Project is more than an exhibition—it’s an incubator for talent and a testament to the vibrant, supportive community surrounding these artists. Adding to the allure of the event is guest artist the Velvet Bandit, a popular street artist known for her clandestine art installations across Santa Rosa executed late at night and with a laissez-faire attitude towards permission.

The Velvet Bandit recently earned a spot in The Culture Candy’s “Top 40 Artists to Watch in 2024.” On her website, thevelvetbandit.com, she bills herself as a “Street Artist. Mom. Lunch Lady.”

STOP A piece, ‘Stop Don’t Shoot,’ by the Velvet Bandit, is affixed to a local traffic sign.

To that end, the Velvet Bandit inspired the theme because her work is trying to “find something on the lighter side, and we wanted to land in an optimistic, positive place and be playful,” notes Mancillas.

The Newcomers Art Project launches from 11am to 4pm, on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2. The exhibit continues the following weekend, March 9 and 10 (same hours), at the Backstreet Studios & Gallery, down Art Alley, off of 312 South A St., Santa Rosa.


    • So happy to hear that and just so you know the opening is Friday eve at 5pm to 8pm…sat/sun hours are as listed. See you at the show!

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