Art Exhibition on Sonoma’s Historic Plaza was a success! Artists & Craftspeople hope for more, especially on the Plaza

An art exhibition took locals and tourists by surprise this past July 9 as it was nicely set along the historic plaza in the town of Sonoma, CA. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

Tourists and locals alike experienced a real treat of creative celebration as the New Art Exhibition took over a portion of Sonoma’s historic plaza on July 9. 

As noted by the Somoma Valley Sun, over 30 Artists and craftspeople were showcased that Saturday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, making for a continuous tread of foot traffic as passerby clogged the usually tranquil narrow paths on a weekend afternoon.  Local artist and floral designer Natasha Drengson was the organizer of the 1-day event.

Bill Monaghan is an accomplished artist who has shown his works all round the SF Bay Area at galleries and shows like the one at the historic plaza in the town of Sonoma, CA on July 9, 2022.

The historic plaza of Sonoma is so beautiful and popular,” said Drengson.  “Did you know it’s the largest town square in California?” She emphasized this fact because the plaza has a natural ability to pull people together simply as being the most appealing and accommodating spaces in town. 

“The New Art Exhibition on Saturday was the 2nd one I coordinated, the first one was back in 2019,” she said. 

Each time, I do this, I get more wisdom of how it can be better, said Drengson. I get a bit more ins  of how to help people more. Etc.”

 “And I feel more confident now, she continued; that it will grow and become something of an event that many different types of people will want to come to. And in turn, many artists and craftspeople will want to vend their wares at.” 

For several of the artists and craftspeople at the gathering that afternoon, this was their very first exhibit at the plaza. Among them was artist, Lin Haley. 

“After the extreme social and cultural restrictions and isolation of COVID-19 of the past 2 plus years, celebrating the arts under the trees at the old Sonoma Plaza with kindred spirits was balm for my heart. I would definitely do this show again, said Haley, for the sense of community, connections, and enjoyment.” When not at her art studio, Haley is a licensed counselor and family therapist. She sees the importance of incorporating art into daily life, especially with its power to help people heal. 

Local artist, Lin Haley, of Silk Winds textile crafts was among the more than 30 artists and craftspeople who displayed their work for view and for sale. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

Disappointed that the exhibition was for only one day, Haley added. “I wish we could have art shows like this in the plaza monthly.”

Landscape artist Bill Monaghan agreed as he said. “To take the time to put all this together for just one day and not a full day, for only six hours is a lot of work.” Yet, like Haley he liked the plaza considering it an ideal spot to have an art and crafts exhibition. Both Monaghan and Haley praised Drengson for her work. 

“Natasha has worked hard to organize and promote this show, said Haley, and she was a warm and welcoming host.”

Monaghan was candid when he said that he initially had reservations as he sent in his application to exhibit. “It’s not a juried event and I usually only do events and shows that are juried,” he said. 

Pointing out how important it is that art pieces and craft items be of the highest quality and craftsmanship. “I don’t want my work to be next to something tacky, poorly made or unprofessional,” he said. 

Mentioning that an artist must be vary wary of the shows and events to participate in because of cost and travel time. Monaghan said. “I’ve been doing shows and events for years, all over the San Francisco Bay Area and lately since the pandemic, I have been very selective about it.” 

Understanding Monaghan’s concerns, Drengson expressed her perspective. The event I’ve coordinated is not juried right now, she said. I don’t plan on that. Because I like giving artists a chance to put themselves out there directly to the public to the buyers, so there’s no middle man.”

Foot traffic at the Plaza in Sonoma was heavy on July 9. Definitely, an ideal spot to for an artist to be on a Saturday afternoon. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

With fewer affordable venues for artists Drengson recognized an opportunity with the Town of Sonoma and its City Council. Because even in the world famous wine country of Northern California, the economy must help local businesses make connections to the community. 

Monaghan did say in addition to the appeal of the plaza location was also in part of why he applied was that the fee and permit with the Town of Sonoma/City Council was affordable.  

“Some shows I’ve done over the years, said Monaghan have been as high as $750.00 or more as an entry/application fee.” The other good aspect of the art exhibition event on July 9 was that many found out about it by word of mouth. “I found out about this from a fellow artist friend,” said Monaghan.

Pleased that the one day event did go over well, Drengson said. “The criteria I established was that participants offer quality work that is handmade and that they pay up front for the space at the plaza. This also requires that they purchase a business license from the town of of Sonoma/the City Council, those are the requirements to get into the Exhibition that I envisioned and coordinated.”

Local artist and long time Sonoma resident Lisa was among the participants at the exhibition on July 9. It was her first time showing her works on the Plaza. Photo by Jonathan Farrell.

 Drengson has had previous experience over the years working with the town of Sonoma, it’s City Council and it’s thriving artist community“I feel that this event was completely successful this year,” she said.  “Not too many complaints, she added.  And it seems like most vendors made money.”

Looking ahead she noted. “My event, perhaps could possibly go through a name change in the future as nobody could remember ‘ New Art Exhibition’ really honestly many just didn’t know what the name of it was,” said Drengson.
And as this reporter spoke with several of the artists and craftspeople, one thing was remembered, “Natasha was great, said Monaghan. A pleasure to work with!” I’m definitely considering doing this again,” he added. 
Drengson is seeking to make the next exhibition a two-day event and provide more spaces at the plaza. But that will require cooperation with sponsors and others who wish to help artists and the local business community.
“For now, said Drengson many artists that just heard about it have already signed up for next year. So, I am planning on July 8 2023.b“it is always going to be the Saturday after the 4th of July, at the plaza, because as Drengson exclaimed, it’s a great way to celebrate Summer!”