Archive for August, 2011

New Homeowners in Santa Rosa

Today was one of those days when I love being a Realtor.  I was able to pass the keys to new owners.  The experience is even better when the owners are first time home buyers.   Don’t get me wrong – I like giving the keys to retirees, second home buyers and folks new to the area.  It makes all the phone calls, bank delays and inspections worthwhile.

Celebrating with a little bubbly!

I met Katie a couple of weeks before she and Justin were married.  They were looking to start their home search when they returned from their honeymoon.  I called Katie a week or so after their return.  We met to discuss the process of purchasing a home and to define what type of home they wanted.

First step – they were qualified with Redwood Credit Union for a loan.  Second step – I identified a number of homes that might meet their needs.  Third step – we went out looking at houses.

Katie and Justin were wonderful clients.  When we visited a home, they were forthright with their reactions and what worked and didn’t work for them at each house.  I was quickly able to ascertain what they really wanted.  When a vintage 1920’s home in central Santa Rosa came on the market, I emailed Katie immediately.  Bingo!  This could be the one.

Thinking about the floor plan, the neighborhood, the condition of the house, will the classic car fit in the garage . . . . . .

The offer made.  The escrow open. The inspections done.

The house is now a home.  The Wedgewood range will be producing great meals and the back deck will be the venue of great gatherings.

I love my job!


Betty Ann Sutton – Artist Profile

Betty Ann Sutton and a new Pastel at the Donkey Barn Reunion Show

Betty Ann Sutton is known by many names – Elizabeth Ryder Sutton, E Ryder Sutton, Betty Ann.  Then there are the less personal but equally as distinctive monikers – owner of Donkey Barn Studio, proprietor of Mr. Ryder & Company, rescuer for Forgotten Felines, organizer of the Graton Pet Parade, sponsor of the Mr. Ryder Spay and Neuter Fund at the Sonoma County Humane Society.  I could go on and on about the many contributions that Betty Ann has made to our community.   But this column is about artists and their art and I want to give appropriate emphasis to the artist who has given so much to many.

Betty Ann is such a recognized personality in the West Sonoma County world that I would never have guessed that she came to us via Florida and Southern California.  With a minor in Art from the University of Miami, Betty Ann traveled to Los Angeles and began her career as a teacher of art.  She eventually relocated to South San Francisco where she continued to be involved in the artist community.  She taught at Fort Mason for two years.  She migrated from the paintings of her early training to pastels where she has exclusively focused her efforts since arriving in Sonoma County in 1990.  In her first years in Camp Meeker, Betty Ann met a broad spectrum of animal lovers and helped a great many cats by volunteering with Forgotten Felines.  In 1993 Betty Ann purchased a desirable property east of Occidental with a small cottage and much wanted space.  Her animal family of cats and the much beloved Mr. Ryder was expanded by two donkeys.

A barn was built.  The intended purpose of the barn was to have studio space for Betty Ann since the home had no room.  When Betty Ann’s vision was realized, the space was far greater than she could fill and invited others to join her.  Soon there were 20 local artists painting weekly.  It started with a few friends painting for a few hours – then the potluck lunch was added – next was a band to keep the creative juices flowing – finally a professional model was part of the package.  Figurative art flowed.  Betty Ann engaged her pastels and enhanced the subject with wonderful hats and demure dresses.  The last of the Donkey Barn Studio gatherings was in 2002.  But these festive events are still in the minds of all who inhaled the euphoria of the day and created beautiful memories as well as drawings.  This group of friends and colleagues include artists whom I have included in this column – MaryLu Downing, Jack Stuppins and Jerrold Ballaine.

Painting by MaryLu Downing at Reunion Show

Betty Ann, MaryLu and Diane Senia are planning to recreate the camaraderie with a reunion showing at the Occidental Center for the Arts this month.   The Donkey Barn Reunion Art Show runs from August 5 to September 4.  The opening reception is Sunday, August 7 from 3 to 6.  You will have the opportunity to view the works of some of Sonoma County’s most acclaimed artists and take in Occidental and all it has to offer.  If you have not been to the Occidental Center for the Arts, it is located at the old Harmony School across the street from the Occidental Community Center. This beautiful venue opened earlier this year and has quickly become a successful location for art, music and theater.  The trip to Occidental is an invitation to eat the local fare, browse the shops and take in the overall beauty of the area.

A wonderful side effect of this Show is that Betty Ann has picked up her pastels and has created a new body of work.  Friends within the animal rescue community have benefited from Betty Ann’s talents with portraits of their beloved pets.  Mr. Ryder is no longer sitting watch over the antique shop but he is captured beautifully in many representations.  In 2001, Betty Ann participated in The Object of My Affection, an ensemble of Pastels and writings on the relationship between humans and pets at Quicksilver Mine Co.  Some of you may know of Betty Ann’s art through Art Trails in which she participated for nine years.  Her new pastels depict nostalgic scenes of family, home and nature which come from the pictures and memories of youth.  You will not want to miss them.  Whether it is starting a gallery, teaching a class or decorating her home and store, Betty Ann is in the thick of creativity in Sonoma County.

I greatly enjoyed getting to know yet another terrific person through this column.   Thank you, Betty Ann for allowing me into your home.

The Big Event in Bodega

Road Sign Outside of Town

Miss Bodega Red 2011

Bodega is a pretty small town.  There is a post office, the old fire station and the under construction new fire station, a picturesque, much photographed  Catholic Church, a general store, a coffee shop, two art galleries, a dressmaker, two antique stores, a surf shop and a bar.  Please forgive me if I have forgotten your business – there may be one or two enterprises that I have forgotten.  For 32 years, this community has celebrated the BIG EVENT with a parade, barbecue and sharing of local wares and organizations.  The parade is billed as the “shortest parade in the world.”   In a customary overcast Sunday morning, the town lined up for the parade.

The parade was a magnificent display of West Sonoma County Fire Prevention power with fire trucks from all the surrounding fire districts.  The BIG EVENT is a benefit for the local volunteer fire department so the other groups all needed to come.  The parade lasted about ten minutes which was the longest it had ever been.  Totally small town America with the added spice of our celebrities from The Birds – Tippy Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock.

Tippy and Alfred

I wish that I could post all of the pictures of the parade.  There were children riding horses, the Wine Country Llamas, Miss Bodega Red, motorcycles with sidecars, fancy cars, banjo players, a couple on stilts, dogs – you get the idea.
There are local events that happen each weekend throughout the summer.  The signs on the rural roads tell you when and where.  Pay close attention as I was stopped by a tourist a couple of weeks ago looking for a festival that was just not that weekend.  Be flexible as to what you are going to see and you will never be disappointed.

Other Events to Come

Waiting for the Parade

Theater in Santa Rosa

Theater on the Santa Rosa JC Campus

Each summer a group of friends attends one of the musicals produced by the Summer Repertory Theater at Santa Rosa Junior College.   We have seen Bye Bye Birdie, Kiss Me Kate, Forever Plaid – to name a few.  All have been terrific.  This year we saw Hairspray.

I remember seeing snippets of Hairspray, the movie, when I had teenagers but I had never really paid attention.  I recall dancing, a lot of teased hair and  Ricki Lake making it in the Big Time.  I had no idea that it had become a Broadway hit over a decade later.  Well, what a performance was put on at the JC.  I am always amazed at the incredible talent in this area.  For as little as $12 a ticket you can see top notch performances at the JC, in Sebastopol at the Main Street Theater, in Monte Rio at a couple of venues and Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Players.  We are not only blessed with a beautiful place to live but one full of arts and other delights.

Tomorrow I am planning to attend the opening of the Donkey Barn show at the Occidental Center for the Arts.  It is featured in my column in the Sonoma County Gazette this month.  Watch for it here in a couple of days.


August 2011


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