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Exterior murals planned for Glen Ellen building

Exterior murals planned for Glen Ellen building

by Tracy Salcedo

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) has enlisted Mexican-born artist Maria de Los Angeles to create two murals for installation on the Sorkin building, which spans the block along Arnold Drive between Carquinez Avenue and Warm Springs Road in Glen Ellen. The murals will decorate two facades of the building — the north-facing wall, facing the parking lot, and the south-facing wall, fronting Carquinez Avenue.

Mural installation is anticipated to begin in late June/early July 2021.

According to a press release from the museum, de Los Angeles’ work encompasses “kaleidoscopes of color and symbolism, often [revealing] simultaneous narratives that slowly unfold to the viewer. Themes often reference ancestors, migration, identity, displacement, transition, and basic humanity … and often also include allegorical references and fantastical forms.”

With the aim of including historical and cultural iconography specific to the region, de Los Angeles, a multidisciplinary artist whose mediums include drawing, painting, printmaking, and fashion, has been researching the history of Glen Ellen, including conducting interviews with diverse members of the community.

“I want to celebrate the ecological and sociological diversity of the Sonoma Valley,” de Los Angeles said in the release. “A mural brings visibility forth. It’s a public work to promote conversation about shared experience — what we’re proud of, who we want to be, what we want to protect.” She also notes that, “When I first started planning this mural, I thought about looking at a map. But the map is just a history of how we have divided everything; I want to think about what unifies us. So, this mural is going to have nature as the major player — a natural hierarchy with nature as the profound force and overarching container.”

The Sorkin building, once renovations are complete, will house a remodeled Garden Court Café and McCormick’s Mercantile of Glen Ellen, as well as refurbished apartments and living spaces, including affordable housing units. A community opening celebration will be organized after the murals are completed, according to the release.

“SVMA is pleased to be collaborating with Maria de Los Angeles and the Glen Ellen community to bring important public murals to the region,” said SVMA Executive Director Linda Keaton. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic response from the community.”

After immigrating from Mexico at age 11 with her family, de Los Angeles lived in Santa Rosa, according to the release. Through scholarship awards, bolstered by selling artwork to friends and neighbors in Santa Rosa, de Los Angeles continued her art education at Pratt Institute and then earned a master’s degree in Fine Art from Yale University. She has taught at the Pratt Institute in Venice and participated in artist-in-residence programs at Los Angeles County Museum and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at the Museum of Sonoma County, and group shows at Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland, Ore., and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Established in 1998, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a membership supported nonprofit that provides seasonal exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, and educational and public programming for children, youth, and adults. The museum’s mission is “Building Community Around Art.” Located at 551 Broadway, temporary museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Additional information is available at svma.org or by calling (707) 939-7862.

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