Follow the trail of Peanuts comic characters and you may find yourself at the epicenter of the Santa Rosa art scene.

Most visitors to Santa Rosa are well familiar with the random and motley sculptures of Peanuts comic strip characters around town. Words like whimsical and cute may pop to mind but probably not thoughts of contemporary culture nor high art.

IMG_9277Zoom in – Made entirely of Peanuts comic strips

As an advocate for public art and place-making, I’ve had mixed feelings about these figures for years. And yet, the more I learn about the artistic heritage, culture and vibrant art scene here, the easier it is to look at Santa Rosa’s iconic comic as a kind of gateway drug to appreciating what one might consider more challenging or intellectual arts.

To start that journey, you need only follow the Snoopy trail back to the Charles M. Schulz museum. There you’ll discover not a pop art tourist trap, but a very contemporary museum that honors not only the artist, but also the person who was Charles Schulz.


The museum hosts some permanent exhibitions as well as a great history of rotating shows. It offers residency programs to visiting artists and hosts book signing events. Most recently The Chuck hosted a book signing and artist’s talk by the well-known artist Camille Rose Garcia. Garcia is a favorite artist in the Low Brow art world of such magazines as Juxtapose and Last Gasp Publishing. Originally from the Los Angeles area, she recently relocated to the Northern California redwoods and has just released a book of her work.

100_0039-1180x841Camille Rose Garcia

Visit online at

Meanwhile, at the Art Museums of Sonoma County, the high king of Low Brow will be showing his work at a couple of special events over the next month. Robert Williams is a true maverick who sought to create vital work that channeled the shifting energies and immediacy of counterculture, from the 60’s onward.

Death-by-ExasperationRobert Williams – Death By Exasperation

As the founder of Juxtapose Magazine, Williams’ enduring influence on the New Contemporary movement is undeniable. The current exhibit, SLANG Aesthetics! The Art of Robert Williams, runs June 5 through September 20 at the Museums of Sonoma County.

Williams-Pathos-in-Paper-MacheRobert Williams – Pathos In Paper Mache