Artists: they’re out there, living among us. There may be hundreds, if not thousands, of them right here in the North Bay, many toiling in obscurity while they wait to be discovered.
This month, Creative Sonoma and the Museum of Sonoma County collaborate to recognize 10 such artists in the new exhibition, “Discovered: Emerging Artists in Sonoma County,” opening on Friday, Nov. 22.
“This is born out of the Community Foundation Sonoma County,” says Creative Sonoma Director Kirsten Madsen. “The program was initiated by The Artist Awards Endowment Fund, which included more than 50 donors.”
In 2016, the foundation turned to Creative Sonoma to manage the program and find those artists worthy of recognition.
For this year’s program, “Discovered” is recognizing five visual artists and five literary artists from Sonoma County, all of whom will receive $2,500 stipends for their past work, a professionally-produced catalog of their work and placement in the upcoming exhibition that Museum of Sonoma County Executive Director Jeff Nathanson will curate.
Nathanson also headed up this year’s visual-arts jury. For the literary artists, Madsen brought in local New York Times bestselling author Ellen Sussman to lead a separate jury.
The visual artists selected for this year’s “Discovered” exhibit are painter Nicole Irene Anderson, photographer Nestor Torres Lupercio, sculptors Annette Goodfriend and Ash Hay, and multidisciplinary artist C.K.Itamura.
The literary artists are nonfiction writers Leilani Clark and Nicole R. Zimmerman, fiction writer Joy Lanzendorfer and poets Ernesto Garay and Chelsea Rose Kurnick.
“We’re covering a lot of disciplines,” says Madsen. “With 10 people we are showing the range of artistic expression available in Sonoma County.”
For the exhibit, Nathanson plans a special display of the literary-arts winners, showing five panels of printed excerpts joined by personal information and jury statements. On top of that, a video will run of each writer reading their work, shown along with artistic interpretations of the writings. “It will be as much about the language and the words as it is about the actual reader,” Madsen says.
The artists will also be involved in discussion panels and art-making sessions while the exhibit runs. Madsen notes that, beyond the visibility each artist gains with the exhibit, the monetary and credibility boost each artist receives from the program is a catalyst to further their career.
“We were able to reach out to artists who were a part of this program last time and were heartened to discover many of the artists were still engaged in making art,” Madsen says. “That’s critical for us, that this program helps people who have such great promise that they find their way forward continuing to make art.”