The Petaluma Arts Association has supported North Bay artists for more than 60 years, and the group’s signature event, Art in the Park, annually displays dozens of artists from Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties at Walnut Park in Petaluma for a weekend of art and performance each summer.
This year’s Art in the Park could not happen in person due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, the PAA was able to transition to an online format, much like other arts and entertainment organizations facing a new socially-distanced normal.
Now, the Virtual Art in the Park electronically showcases the PAA’s members with an online showcase for the entire month of August, meaning arts lovers can see a vast selection of locally-produced paintings, sculpture and performances online now at VirtualArtinthePark.com.
“The art association is here to provide support, community education and promotion of the arts, and any money we make off of Art in the Park provides scholarships and rewards for students engaged in the arts or [goes] to centers and schools,” PAA Board President Yvonne Glasscoe says.
Not having Art in the Park this year meant that several artists and arts organizations would lose out on that support, so PAA moved to the virtual format in hopes of providing a means of continuing to highlight locals arts through an online platform.
“The overall plan is that when you go to the website, there will be a gallery of highlighted artists that rotates each week,” Glasscoe says. “You can look at the gallery and click on the highlighted artists or search for artists by name.”
In addition to visual artists, the Virtual Art in the Park’s roster of creativity includes musicians and poets, featuring videos of performances and readings. Each artist or performer is given their own page on the site with ways to contact them directly or find them elsewhere on the web.
Visitors to the Virtual Art in the Park site can see an eclectic selection of art on display ranging from Marin County painter Barbara Libby-Steinmann’s colorful bird portraits drawn on recycled redwood to Sonoma County electronic music producer Lenkadu’s avant-garde music videos.
Glasscoe says that PAA reached out to hundreds of local creators, and the event is free for the participating artists. PAA is not even taking a commission on works that are sold through the event.
“We thought that was important because right now artists and musicians have nowhere to go to show their work,” Glasscoe says. “We thought it would be a great idea to give this as a gift to the community.”
Glasscoe also envisions this new virtual venture as a way for families stuck at home or friends who are socially distant during the sheltering orders to experience art together while they are apart.
“Like having a book club where you all read a book and discuss it, people can share this art with other people,” Glasscoe says. “One day you can look at artwork, one day listen to poets; have dance night by listening to the musicians. I think of the possibilities of what people could do to explore and maybe find something new that they like.”