Past Exhibitions

December 20, 2013 to March 2, 2014

Established in 1998 by Joshua Aidlin and David Darling, Aidlin Darling Design is a multidisciplinary design firm based in San Francisco with a broad focus including institutional, commercial and residential architecture as well as furniture and interior design. The firm’s project-specific design approach reflects its philosophy of rigorous pre-design research, intensive collaboration and reverence for the site and environment. This exhibition teaches Museum visitors about their respect for fine craftsmanship and rigorous, practical approach to client needs. The meticulously designed installation, takes you on an intimate, personal journey through their creative process.

Joshua Aidlin and David Darling -- and, in their wake, the whole talented crew of Aidlin Darling Design -- add a rare step to their design process: they consider what they want to accomplish before attempting to accomplish it. Almost all architects, after absorbing a client’s needs, tastes, site, and budget, immediately begin to envision the plan, the materials, and the general appearance of the end result, even though they know some of these first choices may have to be changed.

Aidlin and Darling begin an important step earlier: they imagine the character the design should express and, in their fully equipped in-house woodworking shop, they build a quite abstract model expressing that character. For an olive ranch among rolling hills, for example, they may conceive an architectural intervention that itself will be hill-like. For a house to be built in land dominated by rows of grapevines, they imagine a composition of long parallel forms. For building in a climate that is bone dry much of the year, they posit a body of water at the structure’s heart, perhaps represented by a silvery strip of mirror or foil.

These little models, some of which can be seen in this exhibition, are intentionally vague, often mysterious, visually poetic, and capable of many interpretations. A whole series may be attempted for a single commission before a convincing one arrives. After that, there may be a series of further models, each growing a bit less abstract, a bit more realistic than the one before. But finally, armed with a three-dimensional concept, they are ready to determine what design decisions might best satisfy that concept.

There is a further benefit in the Aidlin Darling process: If a building design is held accountable to a concept, then every element of that design must serve that same concept and those that do not are superfluous. This leads directly to the consonance and congruity of parts that many architects and critics have equated with beauty. This process of establishing a clear goal is accompanied, of course, by attention to all aspects of the client’s program, especially to the nature of the project’s site. When appropriate, the partners may pitch a tent and spend a full day observing terrain, vegetation, lighting, and weather conditions at noon, sunset, sunrise, and all through the day.

An Aidlin Darling design is not only site-specific but also client-specific. It considers not only their clients’ quotidian requirements of space and function but also their senses – sight and touch, certainly, but less obviously sound and even smell. Not many architects attend to all these mutually reinforcing senses, but one is reminded of a poem Marcel Breuer once wrote:

                        Colors that you hear with ears,
                        Sounds to see with eyes,
                        The void you touch with your elbows,
                        The taste of space on your tongue,
                        The fragrance of dimensions,
                        The juice of stone

Thus Aidlin Darling Design takes care to consider what the building should be as a work of art before plunging into the practical aspects of how it might function, how it might be structured, and how it might look. Their willingness and ability to focus first on the elemental and philosophical aspects of their work set them apart from their peers.  Though it is a young office headed by young principals (especially compared to other architects, who are notoriously slow to reach professional maturity), the thoughtfulness of their work, resulting in buildings of clarity, appropriateness and authenticity, has already placed them among the finest designers of our time.

-Stanley Abercrombie
Architect and Writer

Read the reviews in DWELL and INTERIOR DESIGN

September 7, 2013 to December 1, 2013

For decades, a self-admittedly "quirky obsession" has compelled well-known and beloved food writer Kathleen Thompson Hill to seek out and comb through the back roads of California amassing a unique, one-of-a-kind collection of tools and Ephemera from our kitchens.  Individually and collectively, the collection pays homage and respect to the evolution of design, beauty and utility of each and every gadget used to create masterpieces of culinary delight.

September 7, 2013 to December 1, 2013

Paintings and Works on Paper by Wayne Thiebaud and Joseph Goldyne

Food has always been a subject of great fascination for artists. Contemporary artists Wayne Thiebaud and Joseph Goldyne skillfully capture the intrinsic beauty and essence of food. These paintings and prints by Thiebaud and Goldyne will highlight the playful aspects of food.

Two Flavors (Ice Cream Cone), Wayne Thiebaud 2003

June 28, 2013 to August 25, 2013

Photographer Nicole Katano and painter Marc Katano share a creative life in the arts. Although their work at first glance is very different from each other’s, there is great synchronicity between them. Marc’s compositions are inspired by Japanese calligraphy and the simple act of mark-making. Nicole’s photography draws out the moods and textures of details she captures with the camera. Seen together, this exhibition will reveal the synchronicity between the two. Nicole Katano also works with the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance to photograph mentors with their mentees. Alongside the exhibition of the Katano’s artwork, will be an exhibition of these poignant photographs. 

April 6, 2013 to June 16, 2013

In a fascinating collection of paintings and lithographs that meld pop art with a derivation of ukiyo-e prints, Roger Shimomura depicts snatches of memories from the years he was incarcerated in a World War II concentration camp. Minidoka On My Mind sharply addresses sociopolitical issues of ethnicity and discrimination, taking visitors head-on into the racial conflicts of World War II and the unjust imprisonment of an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans. With this exhibition, Shimomura is determined to never let us forget one of the ugliest events in American history.

This exhibition also provides the foundation for the Museum's Art Rewards The Student (A.R.T.S.) program. Since January, 4th- and 5th-grade Sonoma Valley students have been learning about this period in history, the work of Roger Shimomura and the arts and crafts created by those living in the Camps. An exhibition of the students' work will open to the public on May 17.



January 19, 2013 to March 24, 2013

“Nothing in Cuba is what it appears.” For more than a quarter century, Darius and Sarah Anderson have been traveling to Cuba and in that time have developed a passion for Cuba and Cuban Art. Their diverse collection demonstrates that passion with objects as diverse as paintings, sculpture, cigar boxes, baseballs, posters and more. A culture is expressed through its art, and the works in this exhibition provide a profound and realistic assessment of revolutionary to present-day Cuba. Some of the works are powerfully moving, like a series of near life-sized paintings of everyday Cuban people doing everyday things, but all under water. The impact comes when you find that every one of these people of all ages—men, women, even children—have died attempting to cross over by sea to Florida. This personalizes an ongoing tragedy still relevant today.

October 12, 2012 to December 30, 2012

The Art of Handmade Paper features some of the best examples of handmade paper today. Extraordinary selections from North American and Asian artists, include rare 20th century Japanese papers and paper-making implements from a private collection. The impressive variety, dexterity, and adventurousness of both eastern and western artists will delight the viewer.

October 12, 2012 to December 30, 2012

Recent drawings, paintings and prints from a series of work inspired by the Northern California coast will be seen in this solo exhibition of one of today's most treasured Bay Area artists. His fascination with the natural world portray a coastal environment that is a place of dynamic evolution about which he says, "coming together of the earth with the water, where one becomes the other, that zone of natural activity that dissolves the edge of the continent through the ever-active pounding of the surf."

June 23, 2012 to September 23, 2012

Throughout his creative life, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919) has drawn inspiration from themes that have inspired artists for centuries. This exhibition will focus on some of the major areas of inspiration in Ferlinghetti’s work, reflected in writings, paintings, and graphic works.  The four themes include: 1) Her-Woman, the Sea, Liberation/Pacifism and Art and Literature.  With assistance from City Lights publishers, poems and text will accompany the visual art.

Curated by Diane Roby. 

City Lights bookstore.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by Cherie and Keith Hughes.

May 24, 2012 to June 10, 2012

A.R.T.S. Explores Color Theory is a student exhibition presented alongside the exhibition Color Theory: The Use of Color in Contemporary Art . Sonoma's 4th- and 5th-grade students worked all year to master the principles of color theory and create over 25 collaborative art projects that demonstrate their emotional, environmental, and symbolic associations with color. Initiated in 2000, Art Rewards the Student (A.R.T.S.) places teaching artists in 4th- and 5th-grade classrooms throughout Sonoma Valley at no cost to the schools. A.R.T.S. is funded by grants from The Cochran Family Fund of the Community Foundation Sonoma County and the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation.


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