A Summer Destination that offers the most, Sonoma County has wine, food, art, a river and a charming patch of Pacific Coast

Sonoma artist, Sig Rundstrom's latest painting an abstract of Bodega Bay. Photo courtesy of Sig Rundstrom.

As the official start of summer approaches many thoughts immediately rush to potential vacation spots. For locals on a budget in the San Francisco Bay Area, that would undoubtedly be the beckoning natural beauty of Somoma County.

A glass of Rose Syrah at Muscardini Cellars in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

Among those who know this very well is artist William Sig Rundstrom – Sig as he prefers to be called by friends and associates, has lived in Somoma for decades.

“At first my wife Charlene and I lived in Sebastopol, back in the 1970s, the commute to work in San Francisco wasn’t much years ago. After a while we figured moving to the town of Somoma would make the commute easier,” he said.

With its vestiges of the old California Mission and a Mexican/Spanish past as a backdrop, the historic town lends itself to lots of sweet leisure hours of bright sunny days and warm evenings at the Plaza, shimmering in sundown glows.

Interior of the old Toscano Hotel in historic Sonoma. Vestiges of the Old West and California’s Early days. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

California’s Wine Country is at its best in the town of Sonoma. The relaxed atmosphere, the quaintness of the shops, restaurants and the schedule of activities and events like the Farmers Market and the Somoma Valley Jazz Society’s annual line-up of music at the Plaza provides a lively summer destination for visitors.

In addition to his paintings being shown at Vintage House, the Arts Guild of Somoma, less than a block from the Plaza, Sig has exhibited at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in Sebastopol.

An artist for much of his life, it has only been since retirement and moving to Somoma County where Sig has been able to focus completely on his art.

Interestingly, according to Sig it has only been since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that he has had a tremendous outpouring of work. “Charlene has been very patient and understanding, he said, as furniture has been moved around to make room for canvases. And art supplies have been left intermittently on the dinning room table.”

Describing himself as an abstract artist, Sig over the past two years has completed a variety of work, including portraits, Sgraffito and still life.

Sonoma County has plenty of Farmers Markets in various places. This one is on the Plaza every Tuesday evening in Summer. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

“I prefer abstract and on a large canvas,” he said. Making use of textures and complex pallets has always appealed to him.

“All of Somoma just inspires me, said Sig. And since COVID, with the help of my ‘Mr. Mojo’ I think I’ve been doing my best work so far.”

That burst of energy he refers to as ‘Mr. Mojo’ is what he considers as “being in the zone” of creativity as an artist.

Whether it’s an open field, a storm-swept sky, a vineyard at one the many wineries, a spot at Russian River or respite at Bodega Bay, Sig always finds something to paint about.

“I am still painting up a storm exclaimed Sig. And, I am surprised I have not burned out yet.” His most recent paintings include Sig’s expression of Bodega Bay and the surrounding seaside.

Sonoma County is also home to Russian River. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

A breezy coastal enclave made famous by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock in his suspense thriller ‘The Birds,’ more than 50 years ago, Bodega remains a quintessential small town of 912 inhabitants.

While the townspeople make use of the fame Hitchcock brought, with movie locations highlighted, such as ‘The Birds Cafe’ overlooking the harbor; they like to keep it as Hitchcock found it – a quiet coastal village, along CA State Route 1.

“Bodega Bay is one of our favorite spots, said Sig. Charlene and I like to visit here, especially in summer as it can get hot in Somoma. Bodega breezes keep at 71 degrees pretty much all season.” Using oil & hot wax Sig’s painting entitled, ‘Bodega’ is one of several that he has just completed.

Local artist, Sig Rundstrom at a recent gallery showing. photo courtesy of Rundstrom.

With ‘Mr. Mojo’ beside him and the love, encouragement and maybe a bit of forbearance from wife Charlene, his most ardent fan, no doubt there will be more paintings before summer’s end. To learn more about artist William Sig Rundstrom, visit his website.