sketching fire stories

Railroad Square and City Hall film screening

Railroad Square in Santa Rosa is home to the railway depot, originally built in 1903 for the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, but now in use by our new SMART train. When you arrive at the Depot you are greeted by a familiar figure of Peanuts fame. . .Lucy. Not the slightly diabolical looking one you see below. I’m not sure how that happened as I sketched. Perhaps a memory of how bossy she was/is with Charlie Brown?


Santa Rosa is the home of Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz. Our airport, a museum and skating rink are named after him and the city is home to 70 statues of Peanuts characters, one of them my own. Years ago I was commissioned by the Railroad Square business Assn to paint RR Square Charlie Brown, a train conductor of course. He still stands a block from the Depot on 4th St.


Afterwards I was planning to sketch the RR tracks but a strong wind whipped up and I sought shelter across the parking lot from Flying Goat Coffee, previously known as the Western Hotel.

Then it was time to head over to the City Hall for the showing of a newly released video, Last October which was a firsthand glimpse into what it was like to work as a public servant during the firestorms, as well as the support and heroism of the community.

It was enough to take the breath away! And afterward the Community Resilience Collaborative led a breathing exercise titled Soft Belly to help the audience process, and recover? from the screening experience.

I for one was particularly grateful for that, because I was up at the microphone next, to talk about our Sketching Fire Stories project and to invite the audience to stay and see the fire sketch exhibition in the hall. The exhibit will be up until October 3. Find more information about how to visit it on the above link.

Sketching Fire Stories: An Exhibit

We’re just a little over a month away from the second anniversary of the deadly firestorm that traumatized the entire population of Santa Rosa and well beyond. In my household we have our emergency bag and supplies packed for a quick get away should need be. And once again Carole Flayerty and I have been asked to share our fire sketches with a community that can never forget October 2017.


On Tuesday September 17, at 6pm the City of Santa Rosa will be hosting a public screening of Last October, a new 50- minute documentary film that captures experiences during and following the Sonoma Complex Fires from the perspective of several current and former City employees and officials who served as first responders, disaster service workers, and community leaders. A film trailer and more info is available here

The screening of the film will take place in conjunction with the art exhibit Sketching Fire Stories on display at City Hall thru October 3, 2019. Sketching Fire Stories is a year-long project of watercolor sketches that tell compelling stories of destruction and recovery in the aftermath of the October 2017 wildfires. The sketches were done on location by myself, Carole Flaherty, and others.

Carole and I will be at the event to meet the public, talk about our sketch stories and listen to others’ stories. I hope you can join us.

Location: Santa Rosa City Hall Council Chambers, 100 Santa Rosa Ave

Date: September 17, 6pm

This event is free and open to the public. For more information call (707) 543-3010 or email me.