An Art Lover’s Guide to Sonoma County

The Donum Estate

Creativity reigns supreme in Sonoma County. Although our world-class winemakers and award-winning chefs tend to take center stage, the region also is home to a diverse range of artists, who display their works in open studios and galleries. Art can also be enjoyed outside of galleries and museums in Wine Country — in hotels, restaurants, even vineyards.

Here are a few of our favorite artsy destinations in Sonoma County. 

The Donum Estate, Sonoma

This Sonoma Valley estate is home to an expanding sculpture collection acquired by Donum owners Allan and Mei Warburg. The collection, displayed throughout the 200-acre vineyard property, currently comprises over 50 large-scale contemporary sculptures by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Keith Haring, Jaume Plensa, Subodh Gupta and Tracey Emin.

Donum Home, which houses the wine estate’s tasting room, was reconfigured this year by award-winning Danish architect David Thulstrup. The new interior reflects the architect’s Scandinavian heritage (owner Allan Warburg is also of Danish descent) while paying homage to the local landscape and “Californian authenticity.” 

Tastings and tours at Donum Estate are available by appointment only.  24500 Ramal Rd., Sonoma

Legion Projects Gallery, Healdsburg

Gallerist Sydney Pfaff of the recently opened Legion Projects gallery in Healdsburg has an eye for new talent and often works with young artists of color. Her streamlined gallery space, with a huge mural on the wall outside, is tucked into a cluster of modern gray studios, north of the Healdsburg Plaza. Pfaff curates contemporary shows that rotate about every six weeks. 

Open Thursday- Saturday 12-3 and by appointment. 711A Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg

Paul Mahder Gallery, Healdsburg

Interior of art gallery with a concrete floor, decorated with sculpture and paintings
Paul Mahder Gallery

 

Paul Mahder, a fine art photographer, has been representing contemporary artists for nearly twenty years. In 2007, he founded the Paul Mahder Gallery in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood, which eventually expanded to a second location in Healdsburg. Housed in an 8,000 square-foot double Quonset hut with 30 ft. ceilings, it exhibits a wide range of artwork — paintings, sculptures, photography and more — by established artists from around the world.  222 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg

Lisa Kristine Gallery, Sonoma

Humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine travels the world documenting the realities of indigenous peoples. Spanning over 30 years and more than 150 countries, her work includes intimate portraits of women, men and children as well as haunting images of social injustice, such as modern day slavery. With each photograph, Kristine aims to enhance the viewer’s awareness and engage them in a visual journey: “I want the people who experience my work to have the opportunity to gaze into the eyes of the ‘other’ and find there a familiarity.”

The Lisa Kristine Gallery is open Thursday-Monday, 12-4 p.m. 452 1st St E, Sonoma, 707-938-3860

Museum of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa

Sculpture garden at the Museum of Sonoma County — stone carving and soft grasses
Museum of Sonoma County sculpture garden

 

The Museum of Sonoma County (MSC) boasts an impressive permanent collection of 18,000 pieces of art and rotates between 12-15 exhibits annually, ranging from artistic explorations of the cultural histories of local peoples to automotive kinetic art. A small sampling of the permanent collection is part of the current exhibition, 35: Thirty-Five Artists for Thirty-Five Years, on display through October. The annual exhibition, Artistry in Wood, begins November 12. Set aside time during your visit to to wander through the museum’s sculpture garden. 425 7th St, Santa Rosa

SBHG Gallery at Cornerstone Sonoma, Sonoma

Find inspiration in the lush gardens of this gallery, which—in collaboration with Oakland-based SLATE Contemporary—is exhibiting a series of three art exhibitions that will run eight weeks each through December. Now up, Elements of Nature will run through November 7th and includes abstract works inspired by nature from six West Coast artists — Robert Buelteman, Lisa Kairos, Rob Snyder, Jill Lear, Marcia Stuermer and Tobias Tovera.

Works can be viewed and acquired from the gallery Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Saturdays through Tuesdays by appointment. 23570 Arnold Dr, Sonoma

Art at The Restaurant

Orange and black mural of two spinster sisters outside Spinster Sisters restaurant in Santa Rosa
The Spinster Sisters

 

Several Sonoma County restaurants regularly exhibit and sell works by local artists, including The Spinster Sisters and Zoftig Eatery in Santa Rosa. Music and art lovers will enjoy the original concert posters from San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium at Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg.

South A Street Art District

Bright awnings and colorful signs along the South A Street Arts District in Santa Rosa
South A Street Arts District 

 

Known as SOFA Art Alley, this neighborhood in Santa Rosa is home to around 40 studios, galleries and shops, yielding the highest concentration of professional artistry in the county. It’s a wonderful spot for a day full of art; find people strolling through galleries or stopping for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants close by. 312 South A Street, Santa Rosa

Paradise Ridge Winery, Santa Rosa

Red "LOVE" sculpture outside Paradise Ridge Winery
Paradise Ridge Winery

 

Wine and art are a natural pairing at Santa Rosa’s Paradise Ridge Winery. Shortly after the winery opened in 1994, sculpture art began taking root in between the vines. The LOVE sign, which survived the 2017 wildfire that destroyed the winery, may be the the most recognized sculpture here but there are some dozen additional pieces scattered throughout the winery grounds, about half of which have been displayed at Burning Man. The winery was rebuilt and reopened in 2019.

Paradise Ridge hosts a biennial outdoor sculpture exhibit in Marijke’s Grove, a tribute to Paradise Ridge co-founder Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars, who died in 2006. The current exhibition, Resilience, was curated by Kate Eilertsen in partnership with Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation and will be on display through spring of 2022. 

Open for wine tastings Thursday through Monday by appointment. 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr, Santa Rosa

Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Healdsburg

Three newly renovated guest suites in Jordan’s French-style chateau include antiques from co-founder Sally Jordan’s collection, along with other pieces sourced from around the world. Jordan acquired the pictured 19th century Louis XV-style armoire, a Rothschild family antique. Converted to an entertainment center, it now houses a Victrola record player, a collection of French classics on vinyl, a chess set and vintage playing cards.

Overnight stays in Jordan Winery’s chateau suites are only available to members of the winery’s loyalty program. The winery plans to renovate its lobby in early 2022 — come spring, there will be more opportunities for visitors to see artwork and antiques. 1474 Alexander Valley Rd, Healdsburg

Flamingo Resort, Santa Rosa

Hello, Checking In?, by San Francisco-based artist Serge Gay Jr covers a wall in the lobby of Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa
“Hello, Checking In?” by Serge Gay Jr at Flamingo Resort 

 

As part of a recent $20 million renovation, Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa commissioned and installed artwork by Bay Area artists, including a golden, “glow-in-the-dark” HYBYCOZO sculpture by Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu. Don’t miss the rope installation Diamond Ring by San Francisco’s Windy Chien, which hangs in the event foyer. The local artwork is complimented by vintage and modern photographs, prints and paintings throughout the property. 2777 4th St, Santa Rosa

Vintners Resort, Santa Rosa

Previously on display at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, four bronze sculptures by renowned artists Dennis Smith, Douglas Van Howd and Jane DeDecker have found a new home at the Vintners Resort in Santa Rosa. The property was remodeled in 2018 and is home to pioneer farm-to-table dining destination, John Ash & Co. 4350 Barnes Rd, Santa Rosa

Jack London State Historic Park, Glen Ellen

Artists are always welcome to set up their easels, pick up their brushes and capture the scenic beauty at this Glen Ellen park. The cottage, ranch buildings, the vineyard and The House of Happy Walls, surrounded by oak and eucalyptus trees, redwoods and vineyards, are a few favorite subjects here. “The light can be dramatic as it moves across open vineyards, along hills and plays with the trees, structures and ruins at different times of the year,” said Sonoma artist Pat Meier-Johnson. Entry fee is $10 per car (up to 9 people) and there are group rates. 2400 London Ranch Rd, Glen Ellen, 707-938-5216

Do It Yourself

To get your creative juices flowing, why not sign up for a class? This fall, Petaluma Pottery will offer a variety of classes including wheel throwing, hand building techniques and nature inspired designs. Healdsburg Center for the Arts, which just reopened at its new Center Street location, will be offering a variety of adult and youth classes ranging from plein air painting to comics and graphic novels. Fiber Circle Studio in Petaluma will offer both in-person and online classes in crafts like knitting, yarn dyeing, eco printing and basket weaving.


Written by Dana Rebman

vineyards, mountains, hills, oaks, and stone buildings at Jack London State Park
Jack London State Historic Park

 

You Might Also Like

outside view of Astro hotel in santa rosa CA
Arts & Culture

Sonoma County is not a secret, but one of the county capital’s most culturally alive neighborhoods is almost hiding in…

The Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival (Julie Vader/For Sonoma Index-Tribune)
Events & Festivals

The finest of Sonoma County’s art and agriculture will be on full display this autumn in a myriad of both…

Arts & Culture

What is it about the wide-open spaces of Sonoma County that inspire folks to put pen to page? The region…

Events & Festivals

It’s not hard to find something going on somewhere on the weekends, but what about when your trip stretches into…

Cultural Arts

Every Labor Day weekend, costumed revelers from around the world converge on “the Playa” at the Black Rock Desert in…

Activities

This portion of our guide to the Russian River Valley follows the lazily meandering river on its journey through northern Sonoma County as…

Activities

This final portion of our guide to the Russian River Valley continues west to where the Russian River meets the coast…

Activities

This portion of our guide to the Russian River Valley follows the Russian River as it ventures into redwood country. On this leg of…

Cultural Arts

Black History Month in February will feature events, talks and performances in Sonoma County highlighting Black history, achievements, art, music…

Culinary Schools & Classes

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang may be recognized around the world, but to the people of…

See What’s Happening

Share your experience using #SonomaCounty or #LifeOpensUp