Arts advocate is a creative force of nature


Spring Maxfield feels most at home in her own backyard, with its garden, beehives, chickens and several art studio buildings, hidden in the Roseland neighborhood of Santa Rosa.

But her sphere of influence extends far beyond her modest two-bedroom house and her family — her husband of 20 years, popular local artist Todd Barricklow, and their two young daughters.

In 2008, Maxfield co-founded the immensely popular annual Great Handcar Regatta, which ran for four years in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square, drawing as many 15,000 people to see fanciful, artistic, mechanical creations race on the rails there.

“She was instrumental in what the regatta was, and what it became,” promoter Ty Jones of Santa Rosa, the event’s co-founder, said of Maxfield.

Blending the fashions, mechanics and science fiction of the 19th century in the now-trendy mix known as “steampunk,” the event inspired its patrons to join in the fun, swarming the streets in period costumes.

Despite Maxfield’s penchant for flamboyant headgear, she was happiest working almost invisibly behind the scenes, even as the regatta itself became a giddy circus. Among artists, eccentric clothes served as camouflage.

“I love wild hats,” she said. “They fit anywhere.”

Since then, Maxfield, who describes herself as an arts advocate rather than an artist, has continued to promote the artwork of others, with several big new projects in the works and a series of smaller ones to her credit.

Her husband, a ceramic artist, became known at the Handcar Regatta for his outlandish, oversized bicycle creations. Maxfield estimates there are 50 bikes on their property, including a couple out front near the street.