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Local Handmade Art at Library a Revelation

The exhibit on Healdsburg's Artistic Heritage at the Healdsburg Library presents practical and artistic expressions of the past 100 years

This week, and continuing only until Oct. 28, the is presenting a one-room exhibit on , from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The exhibit, curated by the Holly Hoods, is a striking reminder that not all that long ago, mass-produced goods were the exception, not the rule. Baby cradles and clothes, crazy quilts and canes, model airplanes and more were goods that people made, by hand, from local materials.

"Everything in the exhibit is at least 50 years old and was handcrafted by residents of Healdsburg between the 1860s and the 1960s," said Hoods. "The range of arts and crafts was chosen to illustrate the diversity of the Healdsburg Museum's collection and the creativity of its historic residents."

Notable among the materials on hand are two quilts by Josephine Bailhache, made between 1890 and 1910, that not only show diligence and an almost obsessive attention to detail but imagination as well, creating a dense landscape of Escher-esque paradox --  created before the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher was out of grade school.

According to online sources, Bailhache was the daughter of early Sonoma County landowner Josefa Carrillo, at whose 1856 auction Harmon Heald purchased the 100 acres that a year later became Healdsburg. Bailhache herself sued to get the "squatters" off the land, but lost in court.

Perhaps she turned to needlework out of frustration and disappointment, or perhaps she adapted to the changing Healdsburg that grew up around her. In any case, her work is strikingly modern.

Other exhibits, all of which are from the Historical Society's collection, include paintings, early stereoscopic photography (and a stereopticon to view them), hats, dresses, wooden chairs and a model airplane with a yard-long wingspan, handmade by Healdsburg's first fire chief P.O. "Slim" Kearns.

The exhibit is free, but it may not be the last time we see these pieces. "Since this exhibit has been so favorably received," said Hoods, "I have decided to expand it and display it at the Healdsburg Museum next year."

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