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‘Arts Alive’ comes to Petaluma

New monthly event kicks off with over a dozen ‘hosted’ art activities downtown|

Planning to participate?

What: Arts Alive

When: Thursday, August 18, 5-8 p.m. (and every third Thursday)

Where: Various locations in Petaluma

Cost: Free

Information: PetalumaDowntown.com.

What would a citywide celebration of art and artists look like in Petaluma?

Residents and visitors are about to find out.

Arts Alive Petaluma — patterned after (and named for) similar arts events in places like Humboldt, California — is designed by local artists of all stripes to connect and promote the town’s vibrant and multi-faceted arts community. Officially launching on Thursday, August 18 from 5-8 p.m., and continuing every third Thursday of the month, Arts Alive presents the public with an opportunity to stroll about partaking of various musical, theatrical, literary and visual demonstrations of creativity.

"Hopefully it will build and have energy and carry the excitement forward every month,“ said Marie McCusker, executive director of the Petaluma Downtown Association. ”We hope when the word gets out about this happening every third Thursday of the month, people will gather together and come downtown and have a fine time seeing all of the unique and exciting things that are going on.“

To assist in that, there is a clickable map on the Petaluma Downtown Association website (PetalumaDowntown.com) where curious art fans can see what’s happening where, and plan their approach. Though events are intended to be within a few minutes walking distance of each other, there is probably more to do in three hours than most will be able to catch, so checking of what’s being offered and preparing ahead is recommended.

Music, it’s no surprise to hear, will be a large part of the fun.

“Jupiter Foods will have a band playing near its produce stand on Petaluma Boulevard, there will be music at Vibe Gallery and at the Speakeasy on American Alley,” said McCusker, adding, “And that’s just the beginning.”

In Arts Alive parlance, each participating location is known as a “host,” and in addition to those mentioned by McCusker for their musical presentations at the event, other hosts this month will include Aqus Cafe, featuring a meet-and-greet with artists Gail Foulkes and Jennifer Tatum (ending at 7 p.m.), Alchemia Gallery (111 Kentucky St.), showcasing live spoken-word artist Zachary Weil and poet Julie Yeager, and The Art Hatchery (401 7th St.), where painter See See Loca and fine art photographer Lance Kuehne will welcome visitors to their studios.

The recently opened Artaluma Creativity Center (145 Keller St.) will be offering improvisational games led by teacher and performer Cheryl King and friends at 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and at Grand Central Cafe, (226 Weller St.), the WonderStump Collective will present a sculpture-based interactive exhibit called The Rocket, described as “a curious, immersive rocket-shaped art piece that you can walk in to and poke your head through.” The collective will also be showing off a piece titled The ParasolTree, while live performances will take place on the outdoor venue’s MicroStage at 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Right in the center of things at Putnam Plaza, reading of English and Spanish children's books will be hosted by Drake Cunningham and Melissa Abercrombie while sound artist Andy Sewell invites participation in his “Conversations with Strangers” project, all happening from 5-8 p.m. And winding throughout it all will be the Unicorn Blessing Brigade, a parade of inflatable magical creatures making its way from host to host and all through the downtown area.

And if that’s not enough to inspire and enlighten, at Life on Earth Art (8 4th St.), the unique and mind-blowing artists who create there will present an uplifting evening of art, music and refreshments. The event will showcase Life on Earth Art’s extraordinary “Unbound" art installation in Napa and Street Fleet, a new project of large winged heart street puppets. The music of Archer Monk will be presented from 6-7:30 p.m.

In future months, according to McCusker, the soon-to-open Polly Klaas Community Theater will be participating with live performances of various kinds.

“Arts Alive is a celebration of the types of arts we have in Petaluma,” said McCusker. “It’s one night in every month where everything opens up and you can go around and see it and enjoy it and find out what’s happening in the arts community here.”

Planning to participate?

What: Arts Alive

When: Thursday, August 18, 5-8 p.m. (and every third Thursday)

Where: Various locations in Petaluma

Cost: Free

Information: PetalumaDowntown.com.

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