Sonoma Community Center was one of the North Bay’s early leaders in offering quality virtual programming when the Covid-19 pandemic halted in-person events and gatherings in the North Bay this past March.
For the last six months, art enthusiasts from around the world have Zoomed in on the center’s digital platform, and the Fall series currently underway covers an array of subjects including ceramics, culinary, fiber, painting, drawing, printmaking, mixology, music and more. These classes and programs are designed to serve everyone from youth to seasoned artists; and the center is also hosting its Dia de los Muertos programming virtually through the month of October.
“This series is friendly to all budgets and is not to be missed,” Creative Programs Manager Eric Jackson says in a statement.
To that point, the Sonoma Community Center is offering the grassroots-funded Equity in Arts Scholarships to provide workshop space at a reduced cost to anyone who self-identifies as an underrepresented or marginalized individual.
To get the discount, self-identified marginalized individuals simply register for the events on Sonoma Community Center’s website using the code EQARTS20. The classes and programs will then be available at a minimal fee that covers the cost of the ticketing software and licensing to run the class.
In conjunction with the Equity in Arts Scholarships, the Sonoma Community Center is offering fall youth classes at a sliding scale for anyone under 18 with funding by a grant from the Sonoma Plein Aire Foundation.
“We are committed to making change that bolsters our educational programming and accessibility,” Kala Stein, Director of Sonoma Ceramics, says in a statement. “Through virtual programming and our scholarships, we are able to reach a broader audience than ever before”
That virtual audience is also invited to celebrate Dia de los Muertos at the Center through the month of October with a series of online art classes, altar tours and more that are also available at a pay-what-you-can sliding scale.
Acclaimed artist Diego Marcial Rios, whose work has been featured in International museum and public collections, helps open the center’s celebrations with his online exhibit, “Fine Art of DIEGOMARCIALRIOS.” The online exhibit features intricate and colorful masks and woodcuts that are inspired by Latin history including Aztec and Mayan symbols, and the show will be available online during the month of October with the option to reserve a time to visit the center’s Gallery 212 in person.
Rios will also be an Instructor for two of the center’s four upcoming bilingual cultural art classes being offered on a “pay-what-you-can” sliding scale, including a Mexican Sugar Skull Art Class on Tuesday, Oct. 13, and a paper-mache Sacred Heart and Mask Making Class on Monday, Oct. 19.
Mexican-born artist Ernesto Hernandez-Olmos leads the other two virtual art classes, opening the series with a paper-cutting Papel Picado Class on Saturday Oct. 10, and concluding the series with an Altar Making Class on Saturday, Oct. 24.
“I find pride in the fact these classes are truly affordable to everyone,” Jackson says in a statement. “What excites me the most is that both of this year’s Instructors, Diego Rios and Ernesto Hernandez-Olmos, not only teach specific Day of the Dead crafts but also integrate the historical and cultural background behind each project.”
In following another tradition, the center will erect its 12-foot Dia de los Muertos Public Altar, designed by local sculptor Jim Callahan, at the end of October. The public altar will be decorated in lights and will feature portraits of recently-passed Sonoma Valley loved ones and lost “heroes.” Anyone who would like to contribute to the altar’s portraits can do so by submitting a scanned photograph to the center by Wednesday, Oct. 14. The person’s birth and death dates as well as a brief description of their life should accompany the mailed or emailed photos.
To view the Sonoma Community Center’s current online art exhibit and register for a virtual class with the code EQARTS20, visit sonomacommunitycenter.org or call 707.938.4626 x1, Mon–Fri, 10am to 4pm.