‘Undiscovered’ artists in conversation

“While growing up and snapping photos in [Sonoma], never did I expect to become part of an exhibit showcasing undiscovered talent,” recalls Ryan Lely, one of five artists featured in “Undiscovered,” the new exhibition at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. “I am proud to be selected for this exhibit, and to be included with such a diverse and talented group of local artists.”

“Meeting of the Minds,” the first of several public programs presented in conjunction with Undiscovered takes place this Saturday, January 21, 3 p.m. at the Museum. The program features all five of the Sonoma County artists—Cathy Ellis, Peter Hassen, Lely, William Smith and Esther Traugot—in conversation with the exhibition’s curators, SVMA executive director, Kate Eilertsen and Sonoma State University professor and gallery director Michael Schwager.

From Ellis’ compelling yet ambiguous paintings to Lely’s iPhone images (pictured at top) to Traugot’s knitted cozies for nature, each artist brings an innovative vision to their work.

About her paintings, Ellis says, “idealism and disaster coexist…building a world that is part romanticism and part social critique.”

Lely’s process developed from his love of Polaroid and toy cameras. “The images are a compendium of odd still-lifes, discarded junk and other scenes I encounter in my daily life.” Traugot, talking about her meticulous process, “As bandage or cozy these support structures investigate the relationship between nurturing and controlling nature.”

Considered side-by-side, the works of William Smith and Sonoma resident Peter Hassen are also indicative of the show’s range of perspectives. The cartoonish characters populating Smith’s “hard candy” environments draw inspiration from a wide spectrum of sources such as Zap Comix, José Guadalupe Posada, and Walt Disney. The vibrant and playful colors add, in Smith’s words, “a sweetened outer shell to the bitter pill of human folly.”

Hassen, on the other hand, tries to highlight our “heroic ideals” by providing opportunities for discovery in nature and the everyday environment, and encouraging us to consider our own place in human history.

Tickets for the program are $10 for SVMA members and $18 for the public. They can be purchased at the door or in advance at www.svma.org/classes or by calling 939-7862.

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is located at 551 Broadway. Hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults. Children k-12 are admitted free, as are SVMA members.

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