The Old Petaluma City Hall (“Reflection of the Old World Order”)


Oil  on linen  24 x 30″  1988

I stumbled upon a striking photo of this building while doing research inPetaluma’s newspaper archives.

Then I learned that the building was torn down in 1955, which led me to want to find out why, because unless there was a good reason it looked like wanton destruction. I found out that it was not in disrepair. It was sound and was hard to demolish. In city Council minutes it was evidently a foregone conclusion. The only reasons I ever heard from people were that they had built a new, single story, modern looking city hall and it would have cost the city to maintain this building, and that it was to make room for parking. This was all before “historic preservation” and the grand structure fell victim to post-WWII frenzy to do away with anything “Victorian.” The lot stood empty for decades and was only paved in the 1970s. By the late 80s the City had begun to market itself as “Historic Petaluma” and the parking lot was surrounded by a Victorian style wrought-iron fence with imitation gaslights.

Below are two of the studies for the painting.


Gran Chacona

Gran Chacona  oil on board  12 x 16”  2012

The inspiration for this painting came from a concert performed at Spokane’s Bing Crosby Theater in March of 2011 by members of  Sinfonia New York, hosted by Allegro Baroque and Beyond. The program, entitled “The Art and Ecstasy of the Chaconne: From the Streets of Spain to the Mind of J.S. Bach,” featured varieties of the beautiful and rhythmically enticing 17th  century dance form, the chaconne, in a spellbinding feast of virtuosity, with the unique sounds of period instruments and the rich color and lively grace of Baroque dance.

The picture’s subject comes from the finale, the Gran Chacona, choreographed and performed by highly skilled dancers Patricia Beaman and Carlos Fittante.