Birds of a Feather, Flock Together
It has been said that birds of a feather flock together.
That same idiom applies to the latest installation in our rotating art series at Harmon Guest House—in more ways than one.
The installation, titled From the Woods to the Water - Sonoma County bird impressions by artist Thomas Hill, comprises five steel wire formations that will be on display throughout Harmon now through June 2023. The exhibit is a collaboration with Gallery Lulo on Center Street in Healdsburg, where Hill is a featured artist.
Hill’s art is a perfect fit for the hotel—the bird forms he has created with bailing wire seem to be flying their way around the stairwell and corridors. The collaboration with Lulo is a good fit as well; the gallery is a business that shares the ideals of craft and design with Harmon, and co-owners Anne-Kathrine Schjerbeck and artist Karen Gilbert are two of the most innovative thinkers in our town.
“Besides being a beautiful experience, [Tom’s work] informs and places importance on the unique aspects of our surroundings,” said Schjerbeck. “By collaborating with Harmon Guest House, it connects a sense of community by having [the art] in multiple places in close proximity.”
The art is the centerpiece of this collaboration. Based out of San Francisco, Hill has spent a lot of time in Sonoma County over the past years and was inspired by memorable experiences observing local birds.
These inspirations have resulted in five different works
One, titled A Herd of Curlews – Bodega Bay, appears as a flock of majestic birds moving in perfect synchronicity that he witnessed one Christmas on the coast. In another, titled, Black Necked Stilts – Petaluma, the artist captures the statuesque birds made up of angled lines that parade along the bay shore he enjoys viewing from his commutes on the SMART train.
In California Quail – Occidental, inspiration came from walking amongst the oaks and redwood trees and being charmed by the conveys of quail busily dashing on the forest grounds.
With the piece titled, Flying Curlew Sequence – Bodega Bay, Hill reflects on how a single flap of a bird’s wings can be viewed almost as an animation when individual birds combine to create a sense of movement.
“I find that wire can suggest a line almost like a three-dimensional ink drawing, with a little hammering to create added weight and texture like the twisted dip of a pen,” Hill said of his preferred medium earlier this month. “For me, it is the ideal material for evoking the lightness and feathery staccato movements of birds.”
For Schjerbeck and Gilbert, the women behind Lulo, Hill’s work exemplifies the gallery’s mission: To present work with a thoughtful approach to technique and concept, no matter what the medium.
Lulo opened in 2009. Rather than showcasing work made with traditional tools such as paint, ink, and pencil, the gallery showcases pieces that utilize non-typical mediums including jewelry, design, and sculptures.
This was an easy play for Gilbert, who doubles as owner and co-designer of SKLO Studio, a Healdsburg company that specializes in sculptural glass accessories hand-blown in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Schjerbeck said Lulo celebrates artists who explore form, material, and technique in original ways
“An object created from the line of craft and design is telling a story about process, material, place, and concept,” Schjerbeck said. “That informs anyone interacting with it and ignites a conversation and ultimately engagement. In a time when so much is ephemeral and immediate, art crafted well is precious. We want to be conscious of putting beautifully constructed, generationally relevant work into the world.”
To extend and amplify the perspective established with the Harmon exhibit, Lulo has other pieces by Hill in its gallery space. Select pieces are even available for purchase.
The best way to experience these works? Head out on a self-guided art crawl.
Start your tour at Harmon Guest House, where a stroll around the property and a climb to The Rooftop bar will bring you face-to-face with all five of Hill’s pieces. After a glass of wine or a cocktail soaking up tree-level views of the town, walk across the Healdsburg Plaza to Lulo, where you can take in more of Hill’s work and marvel at other pieces, too.
According to Schjerbeck, this nomadic approach is a surefire way to experience beauty around every corner.
“Everything around us is changing always,” she said. “A point of inspiration is always to remain aware of the beauty we live in and be able to enjoy it. The natural environment of Sonoma County will remain a point of inspiration, always.”
A free opening reception at The Rooftop will celebrate the new installation on Sunday, May 7, from 4-6 p.m. The reception is open to the public, and Hill, Schjerbeck, and Gilbert all will be on hand. Anthony Beckman and Alissa Lind, co-owners of Cruess, will be pouring their wines.