The colorful storefront and hand-crafted metal gates at the entrance to the Arts Guild of Sonoma lead the way to a light and airy gallery which provides an ever-changing look at work by artists in and around the eastern Sonoma County town of Sonoma.
As the oldest continuously operating artists' cooperative in California, the non-profit Arts Guild of Sonoma has nurtured and showcased local creativity for more than 35 years.
Each month a different artist is featured, with an opening reception held the first Friday of every month. Currently about 40 local artists are members of the guild, and display their work anywhere from a minimum of three months each year, up to all year long — it's the artist's choice. They're expected to hang new pieces each month, so the show is always changing.
Guild members are required to work in the gallery for four to eight hours each month, so It's possible to admire a work in the gallery, then chat with its maker. While more traditional galleries typically take 50 percent to 60 percent of the price of any work sold, guild artists keep 75 percent to 85 percent of the sale price.
Instead of a gallery owner, the guild has a board of directors that is elected by the artists. No one person can make an executive decision to change everything. It's collaborative.
Guild membership requires an application and screening process. Applicants must submit an application, a resume, a brief statement about their work, and 10 digital images or photos of work done in the last two years.
That is followed by an in-person meeting with the screening committee, where each artist presents six original pieces of artwork. The criteria for acceptance is overall aesthetic quality, craftsmanship, gallery-ready presentation, the artist's personal identity, and the quality of the work.
In addition to its gallery, the guild supports local arts education efforts, including art classes and workshops at ARTescape Sonoma.
Written by Patricia Lynn Henley.