From the vibrant array of painting, photographs and sculptures currently on view at the Petaluma Arts Center, one would never know that less than six months ago, many in the community feared the 10-year-old institution was about to shut its doors.
“Day-to-day operations at the Arts Center are going surprisingly, wonderfully well,” says Sandy Rozmarin, President of the Board and acting Executive Director. While admitting that the nonprofit organization has been in triage mode after a financial crisis that led the organization to let all of its already small paid staff go, Rozmarin says that the Art Center’s transition into an all-volunteer organization has been going far smoother than might have been the case. “Our volunteers are doing remarkable work, as you can see from the current exhibition, which was put together by a wonderful group of women, all volunteers, who did a truly remarkable job.”
She points out that since letting its previous Executive Director Delfin Vigil go in July the Arts Center has remained open, and has continued to present all of its planned exhibitions, and even managed to organize a number of short pop-up shows and ancillary events and fundraisers.
“A show like our current one, our annual Member’s Show, is a large undertaking,” she points out, “and it required quite a few people to make it happen. It’s quite a large show, and it’s been doing very well. In fact, it’s changing all the time, because people keep buying pieces, and then we ask the artist who sold the piece to replace it with another.”
The show has been going so well, says Board member David Powers, that a few art collectors have seen their favorite pieces get snapped up before they can write their own check.
“Two pieces I wanted to buy were purchased before could buy them,” he says with a laugh.
In addition to Rozmarin’s efforts and the board’s reinvigorated emphasis on building the center’s volunteer base, Powers himself has been working hard to recruit volunteers to assist with marketing, social media campaigns, website upkeep and publicity.
“We can always use more volunteers,” he says. “We’ve done very well at recruiting people with a strong interest area around installation of exhibitions. We can always use more volunteers in the gallery, and all kinds of other positions. But promoting the Petaluma Arts Center is a key proority, letting people know we are still fulfilling our mission to put great art and interesting exhibitions up for the public to enjoy.”
The current members show is a strong example of that, he says. With over 100 pieces on display, it’s a good illustration of the fact that, not only is the center holding steady, its membership — and the center does depend on a thriving group of dues-paying members — are a talented group of artists and supporters who take an active role in the center in a number of ways.
In fact, growing the number of members along with the pool of volunteers is one of the Arts Center’s big goals for 2019, along with expanding its education programs, and hosting a wider spectrum of arts and entertainment events.
That, of course, along with presenting more art shows. A high level of excitement is already building for the next show, an exhibition of paintings of national parks by Petaluma artist Mary Fassbinder.
PLANNING TO GO
What: Petaluma Arts Center Member Exhibition
When: The show run Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., until Jan. 12
Where: The Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville St.
Admission: General $5, Seniors, students, military and teachers $4