Little Free Libraries

Thanks to Santa Rosa's ever-growing network of Little Free Libraries, that search for your next book is about to get way more fun. (and free)

Perhaps you’ve noticed them: small, often house-shaped boxes in front of someone’s home, usually with the words ‘Free’ and ‘Library’ painted on them. Some are painted to match the home they belong to, some are wildly bright and colorful. Inside all of them are books of all genres, all free for the taking.


Little Free Libraries are a worldwide book-based treasure hunt. By ‘treasure hunt’ I mean that books are the treasure, and while some of the ‘libraries’ are easy to find and are registered on the website with their actual addresses, others just have longitude and latitude clues, while others aren’t registered at all. These are the truly fun ones to find, and I’ve trained my eyes and those of my children to spot the abundant Little Free Libraries around Santa Rosa as we drive or bike around town.


I’ve created a map of the LFL’s in Santa Rosa which I’m aware of, or have been told about. Some are very specific in their location, but some just say they’re near an intersection, or somewhere on a street. Think of this as an opportunity to slow down, look up, and notice your surroundings in this otherwise fast-paced, busy and rushed world we live in. You’re welcome!

The spirit of these boxes of pure literary joy is to leave a book behind, or to take a book with you when you pass by, or both. Or neither, if you don’t have any reading material to share and nothing available catches your interest. Chances are if you visit again in a day or two the selection will have changed, so keep trying!


Do you know of a Little Free Library we should check out? Let us know in the comments. Maybe you'll find your next favorite book right in the neighborhood!


The Bard Under The Stars

By Guest Blogger Estefany Gonzalez

Shakespeare in the Cannery offers something that other plays do not – an outdoor venue put together by members of the Santa Rosa Community.

The Cannery not only brings performance art to life, but it also brings a sense of sharing and looking out for one another. shakespeare in the canneryWhile most play venues offer cushy seats, climate controlled rooms and fancy overpriced wine, this hand built theatre makes you forget you need any of those luxuries. On play days you’ll find the audience sitting in the grass drinking boxed wine while the summer sun beats down on both actors and patrons. After intermission, once the cold summer night wind takes it’s toll on attendees, you can find an area to borrow an extra blanket.shakespeare in the canneryThis alternative venue was first built in 2014, on the remains of what used to be the California Packing Company’s Plant No. 5, on Third Street. Like a phoenix, the Cannery rose from the ruins of an old broken down building. Passionate actors, artist and hardworking locals spent their time to create a place for theatre arts in the heart of our town. Located in the Historic Rail Road Square district, the venue burst with true Santa Rosa culture.DSC_0123What makes this non-profit  theatre project special is that it’s done completely by donations and vaulters. Two of the biggest contributors are The Loading Zone, a collective of actors and playwrights and The Arlene Francis Center.shakespeare in the canneryThe first year offered a performance of Romeo and Juliet with the Shakespearian comedy Twelfth Night performed following year. This season locals are spoiled with two different plays. The Shakespeare classic Macbeth, a tale of betrayal, murder and greed, ran from July 1 to 23. But if you missed it, you can still catch an original comedy titled The Plot Against Shakespeare from August 12 to 27.shakespeare in the canneryFor more information on Shakespeare in the Cannery click here: www.ShakespeareInThCcannery.comestafany

Estefany Gonzalez is a writer and photographer from Santa Rosa. She spends most of her time at local concerts and taking pictures. She’s written for The North Bay Bohemian, The Bay Bridged, KQED and other publications. You can see her photography portfolio and find links to her social media

Fresh Prints

In one of Santa Rosa’s many quaint and diverse West End neighborhoods, there is a gathering of friends, artists, neighbors and makers all showing up in one backyard for one reason: to support each other’s dreams.

Okay, maybe more than one reason, but that’s a big one.

The Fresh Prints Party was born when local artist Wil Smith purchased his dream press, a Sturgis cp5, and he wanted to print up some T-shirts for friends since he now had the perfect machine for high-volume printing. “I’ve always liked the idea of instant gratification,” said Smith about the idea to turn his new press into a reason to have an event.


“I was inspired by Drive by Press’ adventures driving around the country hitting events and schools printing woodblocks on t-shirts out of the back of a pickup, and we wanted to do something different than a party or a standard art reception.” So he, along with his wife Jacquie, decided to make an event out if it, asking a buddy who makes wine in his driveway to pour tastes during the day, and inviting friends to spread the word.

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The result was a long day of fun, hard work, making new friends, and wall-to-wall art. So much so that the Smiths decided to make it a regular thing, inviting a different artist each time to create original art to be printed on T-shirts.


The second Fresh Prints Party featured local tattoo artist Loren Butchart, who hand-carved out of linoleum blocks each of his eight prints over the course of several weeks leading up to the event. About the artists he invites in for the project, Smith says he chooses them “based on how I think their imagery will translate into relief printmaking.” So far, they’ve all been pretty badass.

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Fresh Prints guests are welcome to bring their own T-shirts and textiles, or to use any that might be available at the party. They choose from a selection of prints designed specifically for the Fresh Prints party by the artist, head into the garage - aka Wil’s art studio/workshop - to hand off their shirt, then head to the backyard for some good old-fashioned community bonding.


The backyard is where friends hug hello, strangers discuss the best way to prepare abalone, kids weave through the legs of anyone in their way, and dogs trot around looking for pats and snacks. It is almost certain there will be a baby being passed around.

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Wil and Jacquie are a very community-driven couple, and they make a point to highlight the talents of their friends, as well. Hello Nomad Roadside Biscuits set up shop at the last Fresh Prints event and offered a small variety of biscuits and cookies baked that very morning in proprietress Victoria Wagner’s oven. An artist across many formats, Wagner recently took her love of creation to her oven when she realized how hard it was to find a good biscuit. Seems legit, right - see a need? Fill it. Done and done. Plus, the biscuits are freaking amazingly delicious, so there’s that, too.

fpwilsmithSet up right next to Victoria was Repo Red Winery, aka the underground hobby ‘winery’ of Paul Malone, longtime friend of Wil, Jacquie and Victoria, among many others in attendance. Having poured tastes at the first Fresh Prints party, Malone was happy to return. “This little backyard event is perfect for all of us,” said Malone. “We’re all just making our own functional art to share with our neighbors - whether it’s T-shirts or wine or biscuits. They all compliment each other and it’s really fun to share that.”
The number one word that comes to mind when talking to the guests, artists, volunteers and neighbors of a Fresh Prints party is, without question, Community. Jacquie, the welcoming embrace and sparkling matriarch of the Smith family, loves this the most. “The best part of the event to me is the community involvement and excitement. People and families are coming in and out all day, and even months later I will see a t-shirt on someone and get giddy.”

Santa Rosa is so cool, you guys.

Into The Woods

Guest blogger Maja Woods introduces us to Santa Rosa artist Mary Jarvis.

Mary Jarvis has been creating oil paintings of wood grain designs—and only these paintings of wood grains—for the past 10 years.

mary jarvis Woodgrain 1B15-2B15Why would someone spend a decade painting wood grain designs? When asked, Jarvis just shrugs and says she finds the paintings beautiful and she finds joy in creating them. I have to agree that those are two very good things to find.

Woods have always been a big part of Jarvis’ life. Growing up in Wisconsin, her family would spend their vacations in a cabin in the forest. These were long, carefree days of playing in the woods. Then, at night, before going to sleep, she would lie in bed staring up at the cabin ceiling. Perhaps the daydreams of those childhood days became entangled with the wood grain designs she stared up at each night. Whatever the case, if you look back at Jarvis’ childhood notebooks and old school papers, you’ll notice that the margins are full of the looping, thumbprint-like designs of wood grain.

UribeMary_studio 1Later on as an adult, as she was sketching out other art projects, Jarvis noticed that those wood grain designs were still popping up in the margins. Eventually, she decided to paint one of them.

“It was quite a revelation to actual paint it. Up until then, my memories of wood grain were from our cabin in the forest. It was in a natural, earthy context. And the doodles were in pen or pencil, so they were monochrome. But then, once I had those oil paints in my hands, the pictures I made were very intense and colorful. Part of it is rooted in a traditional Midwestern upbringing. Part of it is from this no-holds-barred, avant-garde lifestyle I led for many years. And part of it is simply about freedom. There’s a respect for nature and tradition, and also for the wildness that breaks those rules.”

mary jarvis gallery“Woodgrain 1B15-2B15” by Mary Jarvis is currently on display at the Calibi Gallery, 456 10th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401″