Posts Tagged 'Forestville'

Barrel Tasting on the Russian River


Barrel tasting is a tradition in many wine areas and a great deal of fun in the Russian River area.  No – you do not taste the barrel but you taste the wine that  is still in  the barrel!  This is a great time to try new vintages before they are bottled and you can get them at reduced prices which are referred to as “futures”.

Check inThis year I passed on the daytime tasting to go to a private barrel tasting at Dutton Estates which is at the corner of Hwy 116 and Green Valley Road – between Sebastopol and Forestville. This was for wine club members only and is much less crowded.  Plus we were able to taste from the barrel and do a vertical tasting  of the last couple of years.  Yes, each vintage is different but to experience the maturation of a wine with time in the bottle is always fun.

This is not a food pairing or themed event.  IT IS ALL ABOUT THE WINE!  And it is happening all over again next weekend, March 14 and 15.  Check out the website and see if your favorite winery is participating and learn about some new ones.


Tasting from the Barrel


Pouring from the Bottle

Pouring from the Bottle

Artist Profile – Gerald Huth

ImageAnyone driving through Forestville during June or October will recognize the name Gerald Huth.  Since the onset of Art at the Source and ARTrails, Gerald has prominently proclaimed OPEN STUDIO at his Anderson Road studio and gallery.  While I had visited his gallery early in my Forestville residency, I had never met Gerald until this last week.  Tall, energetic, excited, intense, well-traveled – the adjectives keep coming as I reflect upon the man who sat across from me as we spoke of art in Sonoma County, the human condition in Cambodia and the impact of circumstance on the path one takes in life.

Gerald was born to immigrant parents in New York City.  He spoke German in the home and his parents taught the philosophy that each person was intended to make life better for others.  Gerald had the opportunity to study architecture at University of Pennsylvania.  Upon graduation, he left for Stuttgart to begin his apprenticeship in this challenging field.  But the rigors of architecture gave way to the art all around him and it was not long before he was studying art at Ecole des Beaux-Arts d’Avignon in France.  From Europe he traveled to Australia, taking every opportunity to paint and show his works.  He traveled through Asia and by the time he returned to New York, he was an artist –  no longer an architect.

Gerald understood that he wanted a career that allowed him to travel and one that gave him the freedom to express his beliefs and passion without constraint of his profession.  He delved into the New York art scene with his full effort.  He expanded his knowledge and exposure by attending Hunter College of the City of New York and The Art Student’s League of New York.  His first New York exhibits took place in 1979 and his career was launched in his hometown.

There were no plans to move to Sonoma County when Gerald and his wife visited his sister in Healdsburg in 1985.  But once being exposed to this beautiful place what artist can pass on living in Sonoma County?  Gerald’s wife led multi-language tours of National Parks so there was no impediment to relocating for her.  Soon the family settled on Anderson Road where Gerald renovated the dilapidated garage into a spacious studio.  In 1995 Gerald began a string of shows in Europe – Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France.  The ability to travel, show his art and come home to the beautiful environment of Sonoma County has fulfilled his dreams of early adulthood.

In 2003, Gerald and his wife turned their focus on Southeast Asia.  During Gerald’s early travels he visited Asia and fell in love with the culture of the area.  The couple visited Cambodia and taught art classes for children under the House of Peace program.  For the last five years, they have traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia to contribute to Anjali House.  This program takes children from the ages of 4 to 16 who would otherwise be living on the streets in this impoverished area and provides education, nourishment and health care.  About 100 children are in the program at a time.  Each January, the Huths participate in the production of a play project which is focused on a Cambodian folktale.  The children create and perform over a three week period during which they practice the English they are learning, paint sets and enrich their understanding of their heritage.  This is a successful and rewarding activity that follows the creed of improving someone’s life each day as Gerald was taught by his father.

If you have not visited Gerald’s studio, it is tucked down a country lane off of Anderson Road (just past El Molino High School).  He conducts workshops and classes in the newly insulated studio that he renovated so many years ago.  There is now another building that houses his permanent collection of work which is open during Art @ the Source and ARTrails as well as by appointment.  Gerald’s art is big, bold, colorful, 3-dimensional – words that could also describe Gerald.  His subject material varies but is centered on the human form with shades of blue, green, yellow and ecru.  After 9/11 he expressed the grief and anguish of the attacks through a series of works that merged eulogy and visual anguish.  Recently there is a noticeable influence of the Cambodian culture in his collages of Buddha, Middle Eastern scripts and original art in the eternal circle.  Evolution in life and in art go hand in hand.

You can see Gerald’s work at or email him at

Preparing for the Holidays

ImageEvery time of the year I marvel at the beauty of Sonoma County.  The scenery is diverse and always stunning.  The picture above is taken on Occidental Road just east of High School Road outside of Sebastopol.  The lighting was so perfect that every driver with a camera was pulled to the side of road to take a snapshot.  Cold, foggy and flooding all disappeared with the serene beauty of the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

With the love of my local area at front of mind, I decided that my shopping for holiday gifts would be focused at home.  I shunned the Internet and headed to Bodega Bay for some shopping.  I hit the jackpot at East Shore Outfitters and Gourmet au Bay.  Sissy does a great job of selecting wonderful merchandise without the “tourist trap” prices.  I then headed to Occidental to the annual craft sale.  I must admit that I bought two sweaters for me – one from Wild n’ Wooley out of Mt. Shasta to keep me warm on those cold and windy mornings and a light weight one from another vendor that will be perfect in Hawaii.

Dec12 044The next day I ventured all the way to Sebastopol.  It was a Sunday and the Farmer’s Market was in full swing.  Today (Sunday) the rain is coming down and a thick fog has enveloped the garden.  I have built a fire to conserve on propane and I will be home long enough today to enjoy the ambiance.   But last Sunday the temperature was 70 degrees and I was thinking I might never wear the heavy knit hoodie that I had purchased the day before.  The Sebastopol Farmer’s Market is a year round event.  The number of stalls is less in the winter but the atmosphere is always Sebastopol.  I wandered Main Street and found a few more gifts and bopped into Whole Foods to see what the latest in food goodies they had to offer.  An absolutely spectacular day.


My Christmas shopping was almost complete but yesterday I stopped by Forestville to visit Frame of Mind – the best framing shop in my overall experience of framing.   Leslie is not just a framer of great talent but a creative artist in her own right.  She doesn’t let a piece leave the shop that does not look spectacular. Then I dropped into Moshin Winery for  the best pinot noir along the Russian River.    I was blessed to have a lovely dinner at Cork’s outside of Forestville with dear friends on my way home.

P1020815The magical barn down the way on Joy Road is open for local artists the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend (does that make sense? 9 days after Thanksgiving.)  It is the closest shopping available with clever surprises for young and old.  If you live near or are visiting that time of year, you should put it on your calendar now for 2013 so that it isn’t missed.

It looks like I will have my shopping complete before I leave for the holidays and will not have purchased anything further than 12 miles from my secluded home.  The evening sunset through the redwoods on Joy Road is a frequent reminder of the magnificence and peace my world holds.  Wonderful community, great friends and local products abound in my life.  In case I do not have the opportunity to say it to you in this upcoming week, may your holidays and the coming year be your brightest.  Peace on earth to all.


Sebastopol Rotary Lobster Feed

Once I had eaten lobster in Maine, I have never ordered it in a restaurant in California again.  So I was a bit skeptical when I heard that the Rotary Club was having a Lobster Feed right here in Sebastopol.  But the Rotary Club here does things on a very grand scale and the money goes for good causes.  I sent in my check on the basis that the event would be fun – I would see friends – I have to eat anyway so I might as well contribute to the community.

Upon entering the grassy area behind O’Reilly & Associates,  I was greeted by about ten wineries pouring generous glasses of their best wines.   I learned of a grape that I had never heard of before – Charbono.  They say it is from Italy and it certainly sounds like it.  The grapes for this Russian River Vineyards single vineyard bottling come from Mendocino County and are grown by a guy named Guido.  The wine is red, forward and very tasty.  (No I am not a wine critic.  I know what I like and what I don’t like and that is about it!)  The second wine of which I partook was Dutton-Goldfield’s 2009 Pinot Noir.  Yummy!

The event had plenty of silent auction items that were being snapped up and nibbles from the Culinary Class at El Molino High School.  The real show was the cooking of the lobster.  I wish I had been thinking about my camera while I watched the 50 gallon vats of boiling water prepare our vegetables, bratwurst, shrimp and lobsters!  Alas, I was just thinking about how good they were going to taste.  The lobster was flown in that day and as fresh as being in Bar Harbor.

The evening was full with a live auction, selling of keys to an all paid vacation to Kauai (one hundred keys at $100 each) and wonderful conversation.  I will once again go on the Mystery Tour with other women of Sebastopol as I broke down and raised my card.  The event brought in over $90,000 from the auctions alone.  Another great evening in Sebastopol.

Doug Hastings – Artist Profile

Doug Hastings with Sculpture

Doug Hastings is the artist that I started writing this column to spotlight.  I have met others along this ten year journey but he is the epitome of my targeted artist – self-effacing, talented, passionate, unknown.  Let me qualify unknown – not unknown as a person but unknown as an artist.  Ask any parent in the greater Forestville area about Doug Hastings and unless their children are in there 40’s or they never played a sport, they will tell you what a great coach Doug is and has been for years.   First as a volunteer than as an El Molino girls’ soccer coach, Doug made a second career in coaching.  Today he is still coaching as he moves into his third career as sculptor and artist.

Doug is a local – one of those West Sonoma County people who can trace their roots back a few generations to places right down the road.  Doug is a local with no plans to venture far from home.  He attended Santa Rosa Junior College before transferring to UC Davis.  People around here know of Doug excelling in sports throughout his childhood.  They know of his accomplishments in any sport he attempted.  Many may remember that Doug Hastings was chosen as UC Davis Athlete of the Year with letters in football, basketball and track – the first student-athlete in Davis history to have that achievement.   The not so public side of Doug Hastings is that he has known since second grade that he was an artist.  There are also the degrees in 19th Century French History and Philosophy that he gathered as he was making history on the athletic field.

So what does an artistic, athletic intellectual pursue for a career?  Construction, of course.   Doug looked for a career that he would relate to his life as a whole.  His father was a heavy equipment operator and provided the inspiration that great statements could be made by moving earth and constructing things – things like bridges and retaining walls and making concrete esthetically pleasing.  For many years Doug led and participated in a great construction company.  These were not small projects but lifting houses and changing the landscape.   The intrigue with structural form as an extension of art continues in Doug.  His fascination with Frank Gehry , the acclaimed architect merging building and art, and the Gehry designs that remain unbuilt, let us know that while Doug has retired from construction many years ago, he has not relinquished that part of his life.

In 1991 Doug concluded his construction career and focused his efforts on raising his two children.  It was not long before he was coaching soccer.   Then he became the El Molino High girls’ soccer coach.  He spent 13 years at El Molino before he took on the challenge of assistant coach to the San Jose State University Women’s Soccer team.  Today he is back in Sonoma County coaching still.  As if developing young athletes was not enough, Doug successfully led the efforts to build an all weather track at El Molino High to provide a safe environment for our youth and a wonderful walking and running surface for the greater community.  This was no small task and drew upon all of Doug’s skills and experience.

I could easily have left out the construction and coaching and spoken only of Doug’s art.  Doug produces a great deal of art in a variety of media.  But not addressing Doug’s background would leave a gap in the discussion of his art.   Driving into Doug’s studio/home, I recognized the realm of a sculptor who likes big installations and has welding apparatus nearby.  What I was not prepared to see were the stone carvings, bronze athletes and bold paintings that filled the interior spaces.  The breadth of work is as broad as the past professions and interests.  The first stone sculpture that grabbed my attention was an armless man with a face of determination.  Then my eyes went to the bold colors on canvas depicting bodies in motion.  In the end, what commanded my mind were the unique bronze figures of athletes that appear to be straining every muscle to hurl a discus or reach that goal.  Doug uses a wax instead of the common Plasteline to form these figures and works with the foundry to produce one-of-a-kind statues.  The breakdown of the wax during the heating process yields unpredictable texture that sets these figures aside from other athletic likenesses.  The vastness of Doug’s collection and his dedication to continuing his exploration are testament to his internal drive.  No hesitation in his declaration that he is where he wants to be – painting, sculpting, collecting – coaching, gardening and living the good life of Sonoma County.

Doug Hastings is ready to show his works to those beyond his closest circle.  He has once shown paintings at the Town and Country Salon in Santa Rosa but that is the extent of his public exposure.  Doug is not yet on the open studios circuit but if you would like to see his creations, email Doug Hastings at for a private showing.   Be prepared to meet a great human being and see some terrific art.

The Beginning of the Season in Sonoma County

Occidental Center for the Arts

Many an evening I am entertained by the various renditions of Jane Austin’s stories.  Storylines are filled with discussions of “the season.”  I don’t think that just London in the early 1800’s had a season but so does Aspen, the Hamptons and our own Sonoma County.  Looking at the number of activities happening in Sonoma County this weekend, I can state that “the season” has begun.

Today was a full one.  The Apple Blossom Parade was in Sebastopol.  Butter and Egg (yes, that is the correct name) Days is happening in Petaluma.  Sunday is the Cotati third annual Old Fashioned Chicken Barbecue. Earth Day Fairs and Festivals are occurring in Santa Rosa, Windsor and Sebastopol.   The Burbank Gold Ridge Farm is holding their plant sale.  Whatever your special interest may be, there is a place for you to enjoy, find like-minded friends and take in the beauty of Sonoma County.  I am sure that if a dozen West County people were asked what they were doing this weekend, a dozen different events would be mentioned.

Golden Nest by Jennifer Beckham

Last evening (that would be Saturday) I attended the Spring Fever Art Show opening at Occidental Center for the Arts.  The Center for the Arts is located across Bohemian Highway from the end of Graton Road in Occidental.  The complex that houses OCA is part of the school conversion to community resources that allowed the development of a small plot of land by Orrin Thiessen (known best as the restorer of Graton downtown and the developer of Windsor Town Green).  OCA is one of many locally created organizations that showcases the talent within their community.  The Opening of this show started at 5:00 PM.  By the time Jen and I arrived at 6:15, the savory snacks were consumed and tiramisu was being served in abundance.  For a small local event on a very busy weekend, there was a good crowd.  I got to chat with a few local artists who have become friends over the years,  MaryLu Downing, Tony Spears and Lisa Beernsten to drop a few names.  I was very pleased to see some of Jen’s cigar boxes displayed –   glad to have her back in the showing mode.  This show is until May 31.

Discussing Art

Many years ago, I met a young man and his girlfriend at the Forestville Firemen’s Breakfast.  It was one of those regular pancake breakfasts with sausage and scrambled eggs.  Boy Scouts scurried around the tables pouring orange juice and maple syrup was everywhere.  Anyone who has been  to one of these feasts knows exactly what the scene was.  To get on with my tale, the fellow informed me that the two of them went to a $5 breakfast every weekend throughout the summer.  They never needed to travel beyond the county.

Peeking into the Occidental Center for the Arts

So the season has begun.  In addition to pancake breakfasts, there will be crab feeds, spaghetti dinners and other food feasts.  Next weekend will bring another round of activities.  The following weekend even more.  Check here regularly as I plan to be the reporter of the “Sonoma County Season”.

Major Storm Hits Sonoma County

Bohemian Highway at South end of Occidental

This morning I woke to an eerie silence after a night of howling wind and pounding rain.  Yes, it was pitch black – not even a little red LED was shining.  The power was out.  I first decided that I would just lie in bed and enjoy the quiet – get a few extra winks of sleep.  But, no –  my body was awake.  I pulled out my flashlight (yes, when you live in the country, a flashlight is right by the bed) and propped up on the extra pillow and started my crossword puzzle.  While this seemed like a good idea at the time, it is really hard to do a crossword puzzle in bed while holding a 6 inch Mini Maglite.  Next, I decided to browse the web on my Android phone to find the outage number for PG&E.  Considering that the temperature was 55 degrees and when the only light is a flashlight, it seems even colder, I was not keen on getting out of bed.  Unable to find the number for PG&E, I started texting people I thought might be up.  Finally, around 8:30, I decided that it was no longer too early to call people on the telephone.  Out came the old fashioned telephone (you know, the kind that is connected to the wall by a cord) and the dialing began.  The first person who answered was my landlord – I can always count on them.  They had called PG&E and the message was “anticipate an extended outage.”   What does that mean?  Definitely, it means that coffee from my own kitchen is not going to happen this morning.  No answer from my daughter.  Do they have an old fashioned phone?  No answer at friends in Forestville until I call on their cell.  Their comments were “no power”, “why get out of bed?”   I figure out that coffee is beyond Occidental or Forestville.  I left a message in Sebastopol.  I discovered that the heater works without electricity – duh!  By the time I was dressed, I had a return call from Sebastopol – the power is on – yeah!

Detritus on and along the side of Bittner Road

Deciding that I must face the world to get a hot drink, I opened my front door to find my torch stand blocking the way with the cover and candle lying nearby, my jade plant thrown from its pot and every light weight item from the porch scattered down the stairs and across the walkway.  I ventured out onto the road to discover debris everywhere.  Rounds of wood revealed that chainsaws had already been to work.  The roar of generators broke the early morning silence as seasoned residents began the post storm ritual of keeping the refrigerators humming and the wells pumping.  No area was spared.  From Joy Road to Occidental to Graton to Sebastopol to Santa Rosa – the carnage of redwoods, firs and oaks littered the roads and filled the roadside swales.  A large tree had taken out a streetlight pole on Sonoma Avenue in the middle of Santa Rosa.  PG&E is having a busy day.

Volunteer Fireman on Joy Road

A great thing about Sonoma County folks is that no little storm is going to get in the way of having a good time.  The Occidental Community Center was full (without power) of local residents celebrating the 30th birthday of Efren Carrillo, 5th District Supervisor.  It was a bit cool but the spirits were warm.

I am one of the lucky ones whose power was back on by dinner time.  At 8 pm Joy Road was still closed at Bodega Highway due to a downed power line.  I only know this because I had accepted a gracious offer of dinner in Bodega Bay.  I only had to detour through Occidental instead of traveling over Coleman Valley Road because Bohemian Highway had opened around 5.  How wonderful to experience the beauty of a sunset within hours of such a storm.  Thank you to all the county maintenance crews, PG&E, volunteer firemen and great citizens who have cleared our ways today.

Sunset from Bodega Harbour

What is Happening in Sonoma County Real Estate?

Amazingly I realize that it has been almost two months since I have posted.  It is not that I have not thought about it – it all has to do with timing.

December was filled with getting myself situated at RE/MAX PROs in Rohnert Park.  Yes, it is the same office as CPS Property Advocates which I joined in November.  Four affiliations in the span of six weeks is quite an undertaking.   Fortunately during this time, I have been able to get some business transacted.

Last week the little cabin in Maribel Heights of Forestville closed.  Two days prior to the close, the short sale on Gamay Street in Santa Rosa was approved and inspections were completed.  Early last week, we opened escrow on a bank owned condominium on Racquet Club Circle in Rohnert Park.  I would say that business is picking up in Sonoma County.

But none of these escrows are straight forward or “easy.”  What is a “straight forward” escrow?  Straight forward is where the seller agrees to an offer, the inspections are completed to everyone’s satisfaction, the appraisal is submitted and accepted by the bank, the escrow company draws up the papers, the buyers and sellers sign the documents, the bank funds the loan and the sale closes.  There are many steps but everything goes in a smooth order.  This does not seem to happen often these days.

8190 Knoll Drive, Forestville

The sale in Forestville was the perfect opportunity for a regular, straight forward transaction.  It is a cute, clean cabin – built in the 50’s (maybe – who knows when the county did not keep records at the time) and with a second lot next door.  First problem was that many did not believe that the lot was buildable (i.e. that the county would allow a residence to be built upon it).   We finally (okay, it was only a couple of weeks) got an offer that seemed to be acceptable to all parties and opened escrow.  Second problem was that while there were other homes sold in the last three months in the neighborhood, none were with post and pier foundations or with a lot as large.  Then the appraisal came in $40K less than the agreed upon price – not much value for the extra lot and no comps in the same area.  When the bank reviewed the appraisal, they decided that errors were made and took another $20K+ off of the value.  So now we have a buyer who was willing to pay more and a seller who was expecting more.  After much back and forth, it was agreed that the house would sell for some over the appraisal (based upon what extra cash the buyer could pull together) and after the first of the year to allow time for the sellers to find a property to exchange into.  Everything was set – and then the interest rates began rising.  The property finally closed but it was nail biting down to the end.

1623 Gamay Street

The home on Gamay Street is a short sale.  What that means is that the bank is owed more money than the house will bring in a sale.  Wachovia is the bank who holds the note and they have been proactive in addressing the issues.  My client was qualified for HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) which is a very good program for people who are losing their homes due to financial circumstances beyond their control.  The two major benefits of HAFA for the seller are that the loan is forgiven (meaning that the bank cannot come after the seller in the future to pay off the remainder of the loan) and the seller is given $3000 to cover moving expenses.  All was going well and then the appraiser climbed under the house and said that he observed a leak in the plumbing.  The bank said that there needed to be a licensed plumber called to remedy the leak.  Two inspectors had been under the house and did not observe a leak.  The plumber did not observe a leak.  We are awaiting a resolution from the bank.

The condo in Rohnert Park is in escrow with a bank.  Fortunately (based upon the two earlier examples) there is no loan and, therefore, no appraisal.  The challenge is that the bank wants everything done yesterday but seems to be taking their own sweet time about getting their end of the deal done.  I am sure that it will work out well but I expect that something out of the ordinary will happen.

This is real estate today.  Deals are getting done.  Nothing is easy.  Most buyers and sellers are stressed.   But the bottom line is:  When you need to sell, sell.  When you need to buy, buy.  There is no better time to do it.

When I return to Sonoma County from my vacation, I will be holding the home on N. Main Street in Sebastopol open and I will be listing a horse property on Sonoma Highway.  Watch here for details in early February.

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol - OPEN FEB. 13, 2011 1 to 4

Does Anything Ever Stay the Same?

Just when I thought that I had changed everything that should be changed, another big change has occurred in my life.  I am now a REALTOR affiliated with Better Homes and Gardens – Mason-McDuffie.  Now that is a mouthful!  How did this come about?  Mason-McDuffie is the brokerage that I joined when I moved to Prudential CA Realty some 4 years ago.  The company owns 35 offices (of which Sebastopol is one) with 1900 agents throughout Northern California and the Reno-Sparks area of Nevada.  


So what does all of this mean to my clients and me?  My funny, flippant answer is that I have always wanted to be with a company that has a green (or non-blue) logo.  It goes so much better with my coloring.  The serious answer is that for right now – it means nothing.  A lot of hoopla was made at the announcement meeting in San Francisco about improved tools, expanded marketing and better name recognition.   Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Corporation, a global leader in real estate and relocation services.  Meredith Corporation is the licensor of the Better Homes and Gardens brand and publishes the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens.  

I have spent my last 36 hours contacting the sellers of my listings and giving the heads up on the sign changing in front of their homes.  I am selecting new business cards – yes, my beautiful new business cards that Jen designed are now obsolete.  I am doing the business that needs to be done.  This seems like an excellent time to post my listings here.  

1623 Gamay Street, Santa Rosa

 Today the home on 1623 Gamay Street in Santa Rosa went active in the MLS.  Asking price is $348,000 which is a short sale.  This is a lovely home in West Santa Rosa off of Guerneville Road.  With only one loan, the approval time from the bank should not be very long.  


One of 3 Residences at Sully's

The nostalgic community of Monte Rio is along the Russian River and hosts the Bohemian Grove.  Sully’s was the playground of San Franciscans escaping the summer fog.  Today this property  is 1.75 acres of walkways and redwoods with three  residences.   This historic property offered at $650,000. 

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol

Sebastopol is known for gravenstein apples and vintage charm.  This four bedroom, two bath home was built in 1903 and is true Sebastopol.  Hardwood floors, gas fireplace, spacious porch – all add up to a convenient, livable home in downtown.

8190 Knoll Drive, Forestville

I used to live in Forestville so there is a special place in my heart for this wonderful little town.  Up in the warmth of Mirabel Heights is 8190 Knoll Drive.  This 2 bedroom cabin is on a double lot which means it has some gardening room.  The interior is knotty pine and totally Russian River in style. 

Call me if you would like more information on any of these listings.  My phone number remains the same:  707 486-3119. 

Artist Profile – Pam Selvaraj

It's Genetic

Meeting Pam Selvaraj is like stepping into a palace of vibrant color and artist composition.  Forget that I am in a tract neighborhood of Northwest Santa Rosa – I am transported to a land that is part India, part England and a great deal of enthusiastic American creativity.  Pam’s art is the essence of this fantastical paradise.

Saturated secondary colors jump out from the canvas and grab my mind.  Abstract shapes hint at biological origins.  Everything is very alive.  Pam Selvaraj is very alive – and is thankful for it each day.

Pam may have been born in Chennai, India and raised until age 13 in the United Kingdom but she is undeniably American in appearance, demeanor and attitude.  The transplant from the metroplitan Edinburgh to the rural Hillsboro, West Virginia was an adjustment but as most teenagers, she fully acclimated to her new country and environment. She was introduced to the bold and fanciful depictions of life and landscape of Vincent Van Gogh in high school and wanted to follow in his footsteps.   But when it came time to choose a course of study, she selected Biology at Marshall University near her home – relegating art to elective classes and the status of hobby.  After graduation she sought out the glamour and excitement of the big city in Miami.  For nine years Pam pursued her career as a field representative for Beckman Coulter, a medical instrument manufacturer, and lived the life of a successful young professional.  Art fell to the wayside as she married, established herself professionally and availed herself of the life that Miami offered.  She and her husband, Jeff Goodwin, relocated to Sonoma County as a career move and life was good.

Everything changed when in 1995 Pam discovered a lump and was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Cancer at any age is scary and daunting.  Cancer in a thirty-something is devistating.  Rather than lament her misfortunes, Pam embraced the experience of breast cancer as enrichment to her life.  She and her husband purchased their home, got a dog and reintroduced art into her daily activity.  Pam was going to live each day to the fullest no matter how few or many those days were.  As a fifteen year survivor, Pam has lived with the uncertainty that is always present but she has used that threat to make her time more meaningful.  She does this by pursuing a deep passion – ART.

The story of Pam Selvaraj is expressed in all of her paintings.  The colors are vibrant and can be found in the sari fabrics that her mother still wears.  Intricate designs in scratch board or paints can be traced to Pam’s Eastern roots.  The abstracts have a biological nature that must reflect the technical education and professional endeavors that are a large part of Pam’s makeup.  Pam discusses the maturation process of her paintings as she coexists with them before they leave her home.  Every piece is a part of her and they, Pam and the art, need to go through a separation process of close association before finding new homes. 

During her illness, Pam began taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College (and like most Sonoma County residents sings the praises of our gifted and giving fellow residents who teach at SRJC).  On a business trip she discovered Chaim Soutine, the little known early 20th century artist, whose saturated colors and raw strokes are strong influences in modern art.  Pam traveled to the Oakland Museum to study the art of the Bay Area Figurative Movement and the Society of Six.  She especially draws on Selden Gile.


Pam shows her art with a group of friends she met in her SRJC classes.  Their group is Intertwined Art and they can be found at  She seeks out inspiration at every opportunity through museum visits, book browsing or art related conversation.  She cannot stop producing art and developing in approaches.  In July and August, Pam’s paintings will be on display at Frame of Mind.  The show is It’s Genetic! And it is a perfect metaphor for Pam’s life and art.  The opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 10 from 4pm to 6 pm at 6671 Hwy 116 in Forestville.   If you cannot attend the opening, stop by to see the show during normal business hours.


February 2023


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