THE FREEDOM TO ASSEMBLE — Local artist Cat Kaufman is offering at online class on how to do assemblage art through Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Photo screen capture from

Like many nonprofits, Sebastopol Center for the Arts (SCA) has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The center makes most of its money from art classes for adults and children and from renting its space for events, both of which are temporarily verboten under the shelter-in-place order.

The center’s Creative Director Catherine Devriese said SCA has moved quickly to put many of its offerings online.


Devriese said SCA’s gallery exhibitions have now become virtual exhibitions. Artists submit their works online, where they’re shown in online galleries.

“A very popular, yearly show is ‘Favorite Things,’ where artists bring in their favorite piece or work describing what is their favorite thing,” she said. “The emphasis is on non-juried and inter-generational and results in a very eclectic but joyful and vibrant show. We love it.”

Two hundred artists submitted their work and many of those appeared at the center’s first-ever Zoom reception last weekend.

“This Saturday, the group of 200 artists was divided into three successive groups,” she said. “Despite a few areas for improvement, the overall response was very positive. Artists have even asked to continue this formula, even when we have the physical opening receptions again.”

“There is something about seeing the artists face to face and hearing a few words about the work exhibited,” she said.    

You can see work from “Favorite Things” at the SCA website,

“If the work is for sale, it can be bought online,” Devriese said. “That's new for us — a big improvement. The exhibition can also be seen on our Facebook page.”

The center’s next exhibition will be “Pandemic Transformations.” The call for entries for this show is coming out this week. You can find it at

What will happen to Art Trails, Art at the Source and the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival?

SCA hosts two of Sonoma County’s most beloved art programs: Art at the Source in June and Sonoma County Art Trails in October. Because of the pandemic, these events have been canceled, but Devriese said they are currently working on a special fall event, promoting the artists from the open studio programs.

“Art at the Source and Sonoma County Art Trails are two Sebastopol Center for the Arts programs that have been established for more than 30 years and are vital to the Sonoma County community,” she said.  “Because the artists’ studios will not be open to people touring, we are creating a very special virtual platform that will show and promote the participating artists, their work and promote the arts in our community, Sonoma County and beyond.”

The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, which SCA also sponsors, was scheduled to run at the end of March, but like film festivals throughout the country, it was canceled due to the pandemic.

“As you can well imagine, the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival steering committee has been hard at work figuring out how to best serve our patrons and partners in this time,” Co-director and Co-producer Cynthi Stefenoni said.

Some shorts are available on the festival’s website,, and two of this year’s festival offerings are available at through the Rialto Cinema’s Virtual Cinema: “The Times of Bill Cunningham,” about photographer Bill Cunningham, and “Slay the Dragon,” about gerrymandering. (See the sidebar about Rialto’s Virtual Cinema.)

Classes and lectures

The center has also begun offering its classes online.

“We offer online drawing demonstrations by Sally Briggs, who teaches how to draw an animal in such a way that it is accessible to every level. It is fun and easy, called ‘Sally's Ark’ and has so far included a rabbit, a kangaroo and next will be an elephant,” Devriese said. “We invite artists of any age, the entire family, to add a picture of their drawing on our Facebook page. Keep the drawings though because when the gallery reopens later in the year (we hope), the drawings will be displayed in a giant ‘zoo.’”

SCA is also presenting an online series by local artist Cat Kaufman on how to do assemblage art.

“Cat Kaufman brings us a fabulous series of online classes called ‘Every Little Thing,’” Devriese said. “In this assemblage-art video series, she invites us to use simple materials found around the house to create art work. One also learns about famous artists. Lesson 1 is ‘Create a surrealist Picasso mask.’”

Streaming for “Every Little Thing” began on April 24 and will continue through May 8.

SCA’s popular art lecture series by Linda Loveland Reid is now also available online, live on Zoom.

“In her Art Spots, she discusses famous artists, their work and some of their personal life, including some scandalous details,” Devriese said.

Reid’s lectures have proved popular. SCA limits their Zoom lectures to 95 participants and this week’s lecture on Wednesday, on the work of John Singer Sargent, sold out. The next Art Spot, on May 20 at 1:30 p.m., will feature the work of Bay Area portraitist David Park. Devriese advises participants to sign up early.

What’s happening next?

Want to get the scoop on future happenings at SCA? Subscribe to their weekly newsletter at (Scroll down to the bottom of the front page to find the newsletter sign-up.)

“We make the weekly newsletter informative but also fun and enticing,” Devriese said. “There is a variety of offerings, including a weekly poem by a local poet, a link to our Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival website with free films, then various classes or lectures. We generally end the newsletter with a little unexpected surprise, rewarding the readers who read our letter to the end.”

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