Stroll from Art Gallery to Art Gallery in Healdsburg
Art lovers take note: There are few places with quite as many galleries per capita as there are in the Sonoma Wine Country town of Healdsburg.
With a population of about 11,000 people, Healdsburg boasts almost two dozen art galleries on or near the lush green lawns and shady trees of its central downtown plaza.
Take a leisurely stroll, and you can view work by internationally renowned and local artists, photographers, jewelry makers, and artisans.
The largest gallery in the area is Paul Mahder Gallery, housed in a 1940s-era Quonset hut. With more than 8,500 square feet of gallery space and 30-foot high ceilings arching overhead, this gallery presents works both small and large by national and international artists in a museum-like setting. Taste the portfolio of wines from GrapeSeed while you peruse the gallery.
The oldest gallery is the Erickson Fine Art Gallery, which opened in San Francisco in 1983, and moved to Healdsburg in 1997. This gallery showcases contemporary paintings, sculpture, and mixed media works by local and internationally known artists in three stories of light-filled rooms. There's a sculpture garden and mobiles hang from the two-story ceilings, with kinetic works by Jerome Kirk displayed throughout the gallery.
The Harris Gallery highlights work by a father and son team, Marc (M.C.) Harris and A3L3XZAND3R Harris. The father's neo-cubist inventions and richly colored modernist landscapes are widely collected, while the classically trained son is known for his impressionist landscapes, cloud formations, and elegant figure works.
J. Howell Fine Art exhibits original paintings and works on paper by contemporary California artists.
Bradford Brenner is an internationally collected artist who opens his studio and displays his work, which has been featured in numerous galleries, museums, and art publications. In addition, his paintings can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the world. Collectors are drawn to the freedom and looseness that represent his unique style and highly spontaneous, multi-layered works. Why just look at art when you can meet who painted it?
Aerena Gallery Healdsburg brings the "life aesthetic" of its locations in Napa Valley's Yountville and St. Helena to the Healdsburg Plaza with contemporary art, sculpture, and furnishings in 3,700 square feet of gallery space.
Stafford Gallery recently relocated to the historic Bank of Italy Building in downtown Healdsburg. The gallery features nationally and internationally established artists with bronze and wood burl sculptures, acrylic and oil paintings, limited edition large format photography, fine art glass and handmade jewelry.
Healdsburg Center for the Arts is a community nonprofit presenting about eight shows a year, including an annual members show, and a Young Artists show displaying work by local students.
Bob Johnson Art Gallery presents an upstairs suite of four gallery spaces, a design studio, and a private art library in the 1885 Gobbi building. In furnished and decorated rooms, Johnson presents a cross-section of representational art, as well as a variety of his illustration work, from wine cartoons to fine art renderings.
Upstairs Art Gallery displays original paintings, collage, photography, fine art prints, jewelry, fused glass, raku pottery, turned-wood vessels, bird carvings, and textiles created by Sonoma County artists; the gallery is located in a mezzanine that looks out over the Levin & Company bookstore.
Housed in a one-time Carnegie Library, the Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society, built in 1910-1911, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum's focus — the history of Healdsburg and environs — may seem geared to locals, but the creative exhibits invariably address universal issues.
A few blocks south of the plaza, Hammerfriar displays contemporary conceptual art, offering fresh voices by Bay Area artists in insightful and thoughtfully composed exhibitions.
Bourne Photo Studio + Gallery is also located several blocks south of the plaza. It offers commercial photography in a clean and bold style, with an emphasis on architecture and interiors for the publishing, hospitality, and design/build industries.
Other sites to visit include:
- Barndiva Gallery + Bar offers singular pieces of fine art, photography, sculpture, textiles, glass, and furniture.
- Dovetail Collection features fine wood furniture and handcrafts from West Coast master craftsmen and artisans.
- Gallery Lulo features compelling work from the worlds of jewelry, art, and design, presented in a modern space, with rotating shows and constant new work.
- Hand Fan Museum is the only museum in the United States devoted entirely to hand fans with a permanent collection and rotating exhibits.
- Hawley Winery Tasting Room and Gallery features bold Sonoma County landscapes by Dana Hawley, an established and collected artist since 1980. The gallery also serves as a tasting room for Hawley wines, with wine-stave furniture and chandeliers by Austin Hawley.
Of course, art galleries are just one of the many things to enjoy as you stroll through downtown Healdsburg. Once named one of America's Most Beautiful Town Squares by Travel + Leisure magazine, the historic plaza hosts a variety of concerts, fairs, festivals, and other events throughout the year. And in addition to many galleries, the surrounding area offers an eclectic mix of boutiques, antique stores, gift shops, restaurants, delis, and spas.
If all that browsing and perusing of art works up an appetite, there are plenty of options. The celebrated Barndiva restaurant, which specializes in farm-to-table modern country dining. Or sample small plates at Bravas Bar de Tapas or get coffee and a treat at the Downtown Bakery & Creamery. For even more options, look through our listings of Sonoma County restaurants and click on Healdsburg to see what strikes your fancy.
If you want more time to explore the area, overnight options include Raford Inn, an 1880 Victorian B&B offering sweeping vineyard views ringed by forested mountains.
Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.