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Several Inspiring Art Murals Are Coming to Sonoma Valley

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Maria de Los Angeles, En El Jardin, gouache on gallery wall, 96 x 114”, photo by Ryan Bonilla, Schneider Museum of Art, 2019

Sonoma and Glen Ellen will be the scene for uplifting public art projects that are currently in the planning or fundraising stages.

On March 31, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) announced that Mexican-born and Santa Rosa-raised artist Maria de Los Angeles will be creating two major murals as part of a building rehab project in Glen Ellen.

Currently living in New York City, 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.

For the upcoming Glen Ellen murals, De Los Angeles aims to highlight the local historical and cultural iconography and she is currently researching the history of Glen Ellen and meeting with diverse community members for inspiration.

“I want to celebrate the ecological and sociological diversity of the Sonoma Valley,” De Los Angeles says in a statement.  “A mural brings visibility forth.  It’s a public work to promote conversation about shared experience—what we’re proud of, who we want to be, what we want to protect.”

The building, located on Arnold Drive, will house a remodel of the Garden Court Café and also accommodate affordable housing units. Murals will be painted on two facades of the building—a North-facing wall (facing a parking lot) and a South-facing wall on the corner of Arnold Drive and Carquinez Avenue. The anticipated start of the mural installation will be late June/early July 2021. A community opening celebration will be organized after the murals are completed.

“SVMA is pleased to be collaborating with Maria de Los Angeles and the Glen Ellen community to bring important public murals to the region. Maria is working hand-in-hand with the SVMA team and a diverse group of Glen Ellen residents on the project,” said SVMA Executive Director Linda Keaton in a statement. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic response from the community.” 

Another mural project popping up in Sonoma is currently fundraising online.

Sonoma County Artists Propelling Equity (SCAPE)–a grassroots collective of local artists who are people of color–have plans for mural which will feature D’mitra Smith, a Black, Indigenous bi-racial, queer woman of color who is one of Sonoma County’s fiercest anti-racism advocates.

Smith served on the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission from 2012 to August of last year. She also served as the program manager for the Junior Commission, mentoring over 100 Sonoma County students between 2013- 2020. Smith also co-founded Food for All–Comida para Todos, and Save Your VI, providing education and advocacy for civil rights protections guaranteed to students nationwide. Smith is a regular contributor to the Bohemian’s “Open Mic” opinion column.

The owner of Sonoma Originals, a skate shop at 17400 Sonoma Hwy, has offered SCAPE the large wall on the side of the building as a canvas, and the group is fundraising to buy paint and materials, to rent scaffolding and pay the artists for their hard work and creativity. Donate to the project at GoFundMe.com now.