Upstairs Art Gallery, Healdsburg Celebrated 21 years in June 2018
In June 2018, Upstairs Art Gallery celebrated their 21st Anniversary with the theme "Abundance". This major milestone gives the gallery the honor of being the longest-running art gallery in Healdsburg history, a town that is currently the vibrant home to over 20 art galleries. This small gallery was ahead of its time when founded in 1997, as it was the first artist-owned gallery to open in Sonoma County, a business model that has since been followed successfully by many more!
June is the time of year to show off Sonoma County's bounty of crops, backyard gardens and agricultural heritage. "Abundance" was the theme featured in the gallery front window. Art works by Carolyn Wilson, Lenona Winter, Cynthia Jackson-Hein, Willow LaLand, Dan Scannell, Ron Sumner and Jill Keller Peters showcase the varied farmland offerings that are rooted in Sonoma County. Food and wine served focused on local and seasonal produce.
A special celebration occurred at the gallery on Saturday, June 23 2018. A large gathering of artists past and present celebrated and there was a historical showcase of artwork by many alumni artists who have been part of the gallery's 21 year past.
"We have enjoyed playing detective. We tracked down as many former artists as we could, who have been involved over the gallery's past 21 years, and invited them to participate in the anniversary festivities," said Phyllis Rapp, a Healdsburg local, "It's going to be a great reunion." Phyllis is in a unique position as she was one of the founding artists in 1997, and has recently returned to the gallery, so in a sense has come full circle. The gallery began life as a non-profit organization and has since evolved into an independent enterprise, owned and operated by a partnership of 16 local artists.
Guest artists in June include: T Barny, James Reynolds, Ned Luzmoor, Lindy Date, Gary Sauder, Katrina Small, Diana Majumdar, Karina Nishi Marcus, Taylor Jane Page, Judy Markoff, Tamara Sanchez, Dave Walker, Dee Andreini, Jan Thomas, Joyce Hasselbeck, Don Drummond, and Tony Mininno.
The Upstairs Art Gallery in Healdsburg was originally conceived in 1997 by the members of the Santa Rosa Art Guild (SRAG). The members of SRAG wanted a venue to display and sell their artwork. At that time Levin & Company Book store in Healdsburg decided to sublet the mezzanine level of their retail space on Center Street. They were hoping to find a business that would not only blend but compliment the book store, two businesses sharing the same space, and an art gallery was the perfect pairing. The combined establishments of Levin & Company and the Upstairs Art Gallery became a reality the April of 1997, and the gallery's opening reception took place on June 28, 1997.
There were 17 founding artists: Joy Amen, Susan Lee, Yero Rudzinskas, Joan January, Phyllis Rapp, Ned Luzmoor, Judy Markoff, Nancy Burres, T. Barny, Karina Nishi Marcus, Lindy Date, Louise Johnson, Joyce Hasselbeck, Rod Lee, Lida Nicholson-Gauvin, Ana Zavala,and Lorrian Levias. Some of these 17 original artists are still residing in the area today
A newspaper clipping from Cloverdale 1997 reports: A new gallery has opened in Healdsburg. Seven members of the Santa Rosa Art Guild have formed a new collective of fine art and craft gallery called the S. R. A. G. Upstairs Art Gallery. These artists decided that they would open their own place and sell their own art.
"The first steps were "exhausting, but very exciting going to all the meetings and helping plan and complete all the necessary steps to open a business. We rented the mezzanine above the Levin & Co. bookstore right on the plaza. Then we had to clean, paint the walls, put up track lighting, find desks, display tables, etc. " said Nancy Burres of Cloverdale, (July, 1997, "Sonoma County Aglow").
It wasn't easy working with other creative, strong minded artists. After a month of meetings and workdays the gallery opened April 10, 1997.
Nishi Marcus describes her memory of the early days, "I remember taking a long time with lots of discussion about what name -- Upstairs Art Gallery won as it was descriptive. I was against it, for I thought if we were to ever move to another location that the name would not be adaptable. Who was to know that the Upstairs Art Gallery would still be functioning after all these years at the same spot up the stairs.....truly an accomplishment."
Two members of the UAG lost their homes and numerous pieces of art in the fires from October 2017. One member was poised to share his art and open studio with the public for Art Trails. The fellow gallery members of UAG were very supportive of their artists who suffered these unfortunate losses, following up with food, good company and a collection for new art supplies.
"I moved to Healdsburg in 2006", says Willow LaLand, "and have been in the greater area since 1989. I visited all the galleries in town frequently. What impressed me the most, is that with the high turnover in retail business on the square, the community of artists that make up the Upstairs Art Gallery stayed opened during the economy's highs and lows. I am honored to be a part of one of the long standing successes of Healdsburg."
Current Members of Upstairs Art Gallery:
Carolyn Wilson, manager, Donna Schaffer, Laura Roney, Lenona Winter, Bill Gittins, Cynthia Jackson-Hein, Dan Scannell, Jo Tobin-Charleston, Ronald Sumner, John Warner, Susan Greer, Willow LaLand, Marsha Connell, Phyllis Rapp, Cynthia Sumner, Jill Keller Peters
Farm to Pantry
June 2018: The gallery partnered with the Healdsburg non-profit, Farm to Pantry, whose mission is to nourish those who are hungry or have a limited access to nutritious produce. Volunteer gleaners harvest, collect and deliver excess produce that would otherwise go to waste. 10% of gallery sales from the month of June were contributed to the Farm to Pantry program, with the desire of nourishing the community from artists and community in the spirit of sharing.
In collaboration with the Healdsburg non-profit organization Farm to Pantry, who close the hunger gap in our local community by gleaning excess fruit and produce that would otherwise go to waste. https://www.farmtopantry.org/