(By Brooke Sevenau) In 2000, Chip Romer was a member of the team that created Woodland Star Charter School, offering public Waldorf education to the children of Sonoma. In 2011, he led the team that created Credo High School in Rohnert Park, one of only three public Waldorf high schools in the United States. While rigorous academically, Waldorf schools are best known for their rich offerings of art, which is integrated throughout the K-12 curriculum. At Woodland Star, all students learn painting, drawing, sculpture, knitting, sewing and woodworking. At Credo High, all students study drawing, painting, printmaking, silkscreen, sculpture, woodturning and media arts.
It comes as no surprise that a founder of these schools chooses to make art in his free time. “For students, making art helps develop emotional intelligence, creativity and all kinds of self-expression. For me, making art gives balance to my life,” Romer says. “It’s the antidote to a pretty heady job as a high school director.”
Romer presents a collection of landscapes at Bump Tasting Room and Gallery, 521 Broadway, throughout the month of April. While much of his art is political, this exhibit, which he calls “Benevolent Earth,” features all landscapes—of Sonoma County and New Mexico, where Romer traveled regularly for a leadership program.
“Galleries are to Santa Fe as tasting rooms are to Sonoma. It’s the second largest art market in the country. For years, my wife Sallie and I have dreamed that every tasting room in Sonoma could also be a gallery. It’s exciting that Geordie and Mieko Carr are making this happen at Bump.” Bump Cellars, which opened in July 2013, has a commitment to the arts with this as its fourth art show in as many months.
“We feel lucky and honored to have a space that is able to showcase local artists,” says Mieko Carr. “Art enhances the space and the gallery adds to what we are creating here at Bump.” With plans to showcase a new local artist each month, Bump Cellars has a full calendar through November.
The paintings in Romer’s Bump show include a picture-window-sized acrylic-on-paper scene of a familiar Arnold Drive live oak. About half the pieces are beeswax crayon on paper, which gives an unexpected pointillist effect. A large panorama is easily recognized by those of us who walk the reservoir at the regional park. Many are cloud studies. “I love the colors and big skies of New Mexico, but the clouds on a winter day in the Carneros are extraordinary. So is the mustard now that it has rained,” Romer says. “Spring is such an optimistic time. I want this show to be a celebration of Earth’s benevolence.”
Romer’s nature pieces aren’t always celebratory. He is working on a current series about climate change that features hauntingly beautiful scenes of environmental degradation, including flooding, wildfires and stranded polar bears. “Those pieces tell a tragic story. They’re a bit didactic, I guess, but I can’t help that.”
An artist, educator and activist, Romer is committed to creating social awareness through community involvement. The exhibit, “Benevolent Earth,” beautifully combines these aspects of his ongoing efforts to invite consciousness and thoughtful change.
A generous portion of the proceeds from the show will benefit the Woodland Star Educational Foundation.
Benevolent Earth, paintings and Drawings by Chip Romer, opens at the Bump Tasting Room and Gallery on Friday, April 4, 7 p.m. 521 Broadway, Sonoma.