June is here and one can already hear the anthemic choruses of Alice Cooper’s ode to academic escape “School’s Out for Summer!” And yet, one Petaluma gallery has found a way to sneak in one last assignment. Don’t worry – this won’t ruin your summer vacation, in fact, the onus is on the teachers themselves. It’s an art show that showcases the work of art teachers themselves. Bonus points for guessing the name… Yep, “Home Work.”
“Over the years we have had community shows and occasionally an artist would tell me they were art teachers. And there is this saying that ‘Those who teach can’t be true artists,’” says Drew Washer, proprietor of downtown’s whimsical general store Heebe Jeebe where she curates the on-premises Back House Gallery. “But I know that I was inspired years ago by an art teacher and I thought to really inspire, you need to really understand the creative process.”
The exhibit runs through the month and features three local visual artists who are also instructors – Melissa Jones, Marla Pedersen and Brian Pedersen.
“It’s what inspires the person who inspires,” says Brian Pedersen, a teacher at Piner High School in Santa Rosa, whose oil on masonite paintings suggest something Dr. Seuss might leave on the operating table. The deftly rendered organic forms simultaneously seem both native and unnatural, familiar and abstract.
Two of Pedersen’s paintings are called “Doughnut Time” if that’s any indication of what inspired the inspirer.
“I think it all comes from doodling,” Pedersen says, smiling. “I feel like it’s difficult to find time to paint because everyone is busy – especially being a father and a being a teacher. But you can always doodle. And I feel that maybe some of my best doodles come from, well, when I’m supposed to be doing something else,” he adds with a laugh.
“With doodles there’s no pressure,” says Pedersen. “You have a, a kind of crappy doodle – it is what it is. But it’s that one gem, and you look at it, and then you’re like ‘Well, maybe that’s canvas-worthy.’”
And indeed – they are. Washer certainly concurs.
“Teachers are not appreciated for their contribution quite often,” she reminds. “But the good ones really process life through their work and keep fresh and relevant, and that comes across in their teaching.”
Home Work is up through June at the Back House Gallery, located in the rear of Heebe Jeebe, 46 Kentucky St., Petaluma. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.