Photograph by Chris Gould
By Gabe Meline
Back in 2007, Chris Gould, Jesse Whitt and Kevin Belew were discussing art shows and, namely, the fact that they weren’t in them. “We couldn’t—or, for whatever reason, wouldn’t—get into the shows that were already happening in Santa Rosa,” says Gould, mentioning the confines of curator’s ideas and gallery spaces. So the three founded what they call the Well-Fed Artists’ League, and decided to use Belew’s house and backyard as the gallery for a DIY art show. The turnout was beyond their expectations.
Every year since, the WFAL has thrown a show at the same house, and this Saturday’s fourth annual event might be the most swinging yet. In addition to art, there’ll be hip-hop and soul DJs, $2 pizza slices, a live graffiti canvas hosted by Jake Spruce, a piñata filled with small liquor bottles, an art raffle, birthday cake and the release of the sixth issue of Muster, the WFAL’s literary zine. “As much as we’re really trying to step up our caliber and amount of artwork,” Gould says, “we’re also trying to make it an event. I’m really into the idea of the old-time variety show.”
The show also features a who’s-who of up-and-coming artists in Santa Rosa, including those involved in skateboarding, such as Saif Azzuz (best known as Santa Rosa’s graf scapegoat El Barto, now of Pleasant Skateboard Co.), pro skater Tony Manfre (who’ll be showing a Super-8 video and performing a live score) and Jon Lohne, owner of Brotherhood Board Shop. (Quips 28-year-old Gould, “I don’t skate anymore—I’m, like, old now.”) Paintings, photographs, sculpture, silkscreens and metal works will be on sale, and one-third of the proceeds go to F.I.S.H. Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul.
Most importantly, even though their show is at a private residence, the group encourages the general public to attend without feeling out of place. “I don’t know how to phrase this, but we don’t feel super self-important or, like, the coolest in the world,” Gould explains, “which I feel a lot of people at art shows try to do.” The funny thing is the Well-Fed Artists’ League might just be the coolest thing in the world without even trying. Check out the scene, and BYOB, on Saturday, Aug. 14, at 728-A Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Noon–9pm. Free.