Gallery of Sea and Heaven

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Gallery of Sea and Heaven

Truly inspiring art and a heartfelt mission go hand in hand at the Gallery of Sea and Heaven, located along Santa Rosa's South A Street in the SOFA Arts District.

The gallery is home to works of art by clients of Becoming Independent, the North Bay's largest human services organization, which helps people with developmental disabilities in reaching independence through a range of programs.

Among the fulfilling programs BI offers is ArtWorks. Participants have access to art instruction and materials to inspire their own creativity. The Gallery of Sea and Heaven provides space for their exhibits in a busy art community. The Gallery also manages seven art studios in the same building for BI clients and local artist to work in. Works by the BI clients also appear in various exhibits around Sonoma County.

When I visited the gallery, I got to chat with Teresa, who has firsthand experience with the artists. A former art instructor at the Day Center, she has worked with many of the artists and was able to convey a little background about the processes and the artists themselves. I learned that Fred Lund, the man who painted one fetching piece on display, has been involved with the art program since its beginning in the late 1960s.

The installments change on an approximate eight-week rotation, with each show following a theme. Most exhibits are primarily by a local artist with several works by Becoming Independent artists also on display.

Each winter, however, the lively and full exhibit, "Holiday Lights," fills the gallery. It is absolutely teeming with colorful paintings, vibrant mosaics, whimsically decorated reclaimed pieces, and more. We saw tile mosaics on guitars, latch hook rugs on armchairs, a fancifully painted rocking horse, to name a few.

Theresa said that the artists get such pride just from seeing their pieces on display in the gallery and they are elated when a piece sells. For the second year in a row, a Becoming Independent artist won a label contest at Imagery Estate Winery and you can purchase a bottle of wine with William Eley's painting on the label.

The Gallery of Sea and Heaven is open noon-5 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Grab a treat at nearby Criminal Baking Co. & Noshery or Spinster Sisters and have a leisurely browse.

You can also join in the fun of the SOFA Arts District's numerous open studio events: Small Works in February, Matsuri (Janpanese Arts Festival) in April, Vine Art in June, Art Walk in August, Winterblast in November. Every third Thursday of the month, you can drop in during the SOFA Stroll, too.

Jen Jones