A creative force of nature

Arts advocate is a creative force of nature

BY DAN TAYLOR — THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

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.

 

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Epicenter for Art

Smack dab in the middle of Sonoma County's wine country, Santa Rosa is quickly becoming the hub of an eclectic and thriving arts scene. For years artists have been simmering just under the public radar. Seemingly only emerging once or twice a year for orchestrated studio tours or your typical “easels-on-grass” art fairs. While most of the public attentions went to the vineyards or nearby beaches, the veil has been lifted and now hundreds of visual artists, dozens of performing arts organizations, and a diverse collection of galleries and other venues that display the wide-range of talent this city is proud to celebrate, can be found throughout the community. From large-scale installations at galleries and hidden warehouses to vibrant street art and spontaneous happenings, Santa Rosa is the epicenter for Art (that’s right, capital A, folks) with something for every artist, collector, educator or even dilettante to enjoy.


GET YOUR JARGON

Julia Davis, creating art under the name Bud Snow, created this fun piece for us here in Santa Rosa. Filled with expressions gathered around town, it's a chance for you to test your knowledge of the local lingo. Use the comment section to help us better understand the terms, and we'll pick one comment to win a free poster of this true Santa Rosa original.