The City of Sonoma, in partnership with Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force (Task Force), is pleased to announce the installation of the “Heart of Sonoma” artist heart series in front of Sonoma’s City Hall, in Boyes Hot Springs at the parking lot at E. Thompson Ave and Sonoma Hwy 12, and at the Sonoma Community Center at 276 East Napa Street. The series is being installed this week, and will remain in place until further notice.
The collective installation is part of the Valley-wide “Heart of Sonoma” community art project organized and curated by the Task Force and is comprised of a series of 22 large plywood hearts which were fabricated by the Sonoma Community Center and then distributed to local artists to design. Kala Stein, Director of Ceramics and Arts at the Sonoma Community Center, took an active role in curating and installing the series and notes that “Through planning this project, the Valley’s arts organizations have linked together like never before to build community at a time when we are so isolated. The essence of the project is not about making hearts, but it’s about what the hearts represent – showing love for our community and connecting with the people and businesses in it.”
The Task Force formed shortly after the first Shelter-in-Place order was issued and quickly began organizing to find ways to create a feeling of community even though gathering together was not possible. “When “Heart of Sonoma” was first conceived, our goal was to bring people together—despite our required distancing—through inspired art projects anyone can do at home,” says City of Sonoma Vice Mayor, Rachel Hundley. We started with “Signs of Life” to encourage people to put a tangible symbol of themselves in their front yard to share with neighbors and pedestrians walking by. The installation on the Plaza today represents our collective Sign of Life.” (To date, there are 18 local organizations participating in the task force. Please refer to the attached list for a complete list of contributing artists and also to see images of all the artwork included in the series.) The City wishes to acknowledge the leadership of the Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Springs Community Alliance and Art Escape, which serve as coordinating organizations for the Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force, for their extraordinary vision and collaboration.
Vice Mayor Hundley, who serves as a liaison between the City and the Task Force, explains how the artist series took inspiration from past challenges the community has faced. “As the Task Force reflected on the power the spontaneous “Love in The Air” posters in bringing us together during the 2017 fires, it was clear the installation should reflect that same spirit of love, hope, and gratitude that is getting us through the current challenges. Heart of Sonoma is art for the community, by the community, and I look forward to seeing what the installations on the Plaza and in the Springs inspires others to do.”
Along with the artist contributions, one of the large scale hearts was designed with a message from the City of Sonoma. City Staff contributed encouraging and inspiring words and phrases which were artfully arranged onto one of the large scale hearts by local sign painter, Nicole Grimes. The words Creative, Giving, Hero, Hopeful, Love, Proud, Resilient, Smiles, Sonoma Valley Together, Strong and Valiant appear in both English and Spanish in both the Plaza and Springs installations. “This striking installation is a timely addition to the Plaza as we navigate the re-opening process,” says Sonoma City Manager, Cathy Capriola. “It serves as a reminder of how it is support for one another that will help bring our community through this pandemic and beyond.”
In addition to providing aesthetic vitality, the installation also aims to inspire the community to create art themselves and encourages participation in the Heart of Sonoma project from their own homes with materials they have on hand. Arts leaders have provided creative prompts as part of the community art project and all are invited to respond in any art form. See the Heart of Sonoma Facebook and Instagram pages, and the Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force webpage for more information, prompts and a complete list of participating organizations.
About Heart of Sonoma
The Heart of Sonoma campaign was created by the newly formed Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force to help connect those sheltering-at-home during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing opportunities for meaningful creative expression for the Sonoma Valley community.