What does the spirit of our times look like through the eyes of artists?
The answer to that inquiry is explored in the Petaluma Arts Center’s new juried exhibit, “The Zeitgeist Exhibition, Capturing the Moment through Art,” which showcases work from 65 artists providing their perspective on the times in which we live. The exhibit, which runs from May 14 to July 10, showcases 69 works of art from creators in locations spanning from San Jose to the Oregon border, with more than a third of the submissions from Sonoma County.
“Zeitgeist is a complicated word and I like that,” said Katherine Plank, former chair of the center’s exhibition committee and the designer of this show. “It literally means the ‘spirit of the times’ but it also implies the beliefs and the currents of the world. What are the shadows from the past lingering and affecting the future? Zeitgeist gives the suggestion of something fleeting, of something that will change.”
Plank embedded words such as culture, discovery, beliefs, Supreme Court, religion, technology censorship, empire, spirit and music in the call for entries to reflect the wide breath of ideas available for the artists to work with.
Three jurors, Thomas Reynolds from the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco, Dennis Calabi from Santa Rosa’s Calabi Gallery and Darice Machel McGuire, artist and owner of Art E Studio and president of the Lahaina Arts Association in Hawaii, evaluated each of the 400 entries on its own merit without knowing who the artist was using special software for blind judging.
Plank said she hopes the show will capture what’s going on in the art world in Northern California.
“And on a deeper level,” she added. “What are the things that we are responding to in this world?”
Plank was pleased with the artistic community’s response to the idea.
“We got incredible work submitted,” she said, “Paintings, wall hangings, ceramic pieces, sculpture, metal pieces, photographs, all with unique points of view.”
Petaluma artist Evelyn Dolowitz Nitzberg’s painting of a shopping cart filled with possessions against a backdrop of an American flag and soldiers was selected to be part of the show. The piece is intended to reflect a growing problem many veterans face trying to find housing, with nearly 50,000 homeless veterans around the nation, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Development.
“Everyone in ‘America Has Wheels’ is expressing the idea that not everyone in the U.S. is living the ‘American Dream’ of owning a car and having a roof overhead,” explained Nitzberg, a signature artist of the Society of Western Artists. “There are more and more people living on our streets. I don’t remember seeing any folks living on the streets when I was a kid and cow town Petaluma was only two blocks long.”
Plank said art shows, such as the Zeitgeist Exhibition, serve as a way to bring communities together.
“We are hoping to get people interested in art and to get them engaged,” she said. “The show is an invitation to explore new ways of thinking and even inspire individuals to do art themselves. Art is such an important aspect to being a whole person.”
The Zeitgeist Exhibition
WHAT: A juried exhibition of Northern California artists running May 14-July 10, with an artists reception 5-7 p.m. May 14.
WHERE: Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville St.
TICKETS: $5 general; $4 seniors, students, teachers, military; $3 groups; free to PAC members. Fourth Mondays are free days and open until 8:00 p.m.
LEARN MORE: Visit petalumaartscenter.org.