Creekside creates film fest art
THE SONOMAWOOD SIGN that graced the front lawn of the Sonoma Community Center will be in the Plaza horseshoe this year.
Walking around the film festival this week, it will be hard to ignore the art of Creekside High School.
First, there’s the SONOMAWOOD sign greeting all visitors, 10-feet tall and 50-feet wide, front and center in the horseshoe where Broadway ends. Then there’s the 12 hand-painted posters and four giant turtles that will help transform the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building into a Cuban nightclub so John Waters can do whatever John Waters does in his one-man performance, “This Filthy World.” There are also the four-foot chalk panels in the backlot tent, uniquely stylized by student Evan Felt and his friends. And don’t miss the eight-foot rendering of a of New Belgium ale bottle outside the community center: that’s Creekside’s work too.
Creekside is a small alternative school on the Sonoma Valley High School campus. Full of dedicated teachers and sometimes rebellious but highly-creative students, the school has adopted the film festival as its latest project. Creekside staff met with Mary Catherine Cutcliffe, the film festival’s director of operations, with hopes of finding a home for the SONOMAWOOD sign, which had been staged in front of the Community Center at the 2009 and 2010 festivals. Cutcliffe jumped at the idea of supporting student art. She contacted Sonoma City Councilmember Ken Brown to get the sign’s placement on the April 2 City Council agenda, then contacted the event planner about the panels for the John Waters performance, then bivouacked the New Belgium installation, and so it went.
The SONOMAWOOD sign was tricky as the original vision was to put it up in the hills above town, similar to that famous sign in LA. The sign is produced as part of an environmental art unit at Creekside, in which students study works by Andy Goldsworthy and Christo as well as street artists Banksey and Shepard Fairey.
The goal of the unit is to understand the importance of public art and that art can be created and appreciated any time by anyone for any reason. Students also learn about the legalities of street art and the consequences of vandalism.
Giant stacked rocks on a beach overtaken by tides (Goldsworthy), a billowing white running fence through Sonoma and Marin counties (Christo), a huge rat or ex-wrestler stenciled on the side of a building (Banksey and Fairey). This art exists to get noticed and provoke thought, and while 10-foot tall letters in the middle of the Plaza might seem silly, they will get noticed.
“I’m in the engagement business,” I explained at the Sonoma City Council meeting April 2. “When my students see their artwork in the Plaza being appreciated by thousands of people and validated as important by the city of Sonoma, it connects them to the community and engages them in life.”
The council agreed, voting unanimously for the installation.
The student art will be up through Sunday. For more information or, if you would like some giant wooden letters in your yard, contact Creekside High School.