Artists bring color to Petaluma through murals

Whether it’s for a love of art, work, or to further develop her career, Sonoma artist Countty AmandaLynn is always painting. Growing up in the woods of Western Pennsylvania, he has always loved the outdoors and expresses it in his often created nature works.

“I’ve always done art. I painted my first mural in the hallway of my parents’ house when I was 16 — after the ticket I got with my mom in the car,” explains AmandaLynn. “It was like my punishment, but then he basically sparked my interest in my lifelong career.”

From galleries to studios to art streets, Petaluma and Sonoma County have a great art scene. For AmandaLynn and her frequent paint partner, Lady Mags (Magdalena Gross), the scene’s main meaning comes from its murals and street art presence — akin to a big city like San Francisco. Not only professional partners, but best friends, AmandaLynn and Gross have been creating together for the past 11 years. Although their work can be seen throughout Sonoma County and beyond, the two have brought a lot of color and beauty to Petaluma through a series of collaborative murals. This attractive expression of color and nature carries a strong message to the community.

his recent downtown work, “Magnificent,” which sits on the sidewall of Rex Ace Hardware, is a major accomplishment for the artists. When Gross became city dwellers in 2018, they knew they wanted to do a big collaboration for the city. The artistic couple already have another mural in Heritage Salvage called “Harmony,” which was painted in 2021 to celebrate Earth Day.

“In addition to the graffiti and art that we usually do, we wanted to choose a slogan that represents the beauty of the area,” says AmandaLynn. “Because we both fell in love with the environment, the people and dealing with the North Bay. So we wanted to do something that celebrates that in a special way.”

As these examples illustrate, the combination of the two artist styles brings together lettering and graffiti painting to form stunning public works of art.

“We also do fine art together,” says AmandaLynn. “This is a symbiotic relationship. We met through a painting together and later became very close friends.”

AmandaLynn said she moved from Pennsylvania to San Francisco in 2000, attracted by its reputation as a thriving arts community. At that time, he felt part of the city.

“I actually met a bunch of graffiti writers in San Francisco when I was going to art school and that’s how I started painting on the streets,” he said. While living in the city, AmandaLynn hooked up with a muralist, Prairie Prince, who guided her in what would eventually become her full-time career.

Gross, who creates his art under the name Lady Mags, is from New York and started painting graffiti in Chicago in the early 2000s. He moved to Petaluma permanently in 2018 after attending Stanford University. According to AmandaLynn, Lady Mags have a full-time career in education, but they are always looking for opportunities to work together.

“If we can, we paint together,” he says, “but I tend to paint every week — all the time.”

Along with solo painting projects and collaborative projects, AmandaLynn was the director of a large music festival called KAABOO for several years. He worked with hundreds of artists and was able to showcase some of his own works through art installations for festivals. Many of the immersive installations are collaborations with artist, Joe Stiles.

“He’s an architect and a designer and we came up with a vision together,” he said. “I’m going to come up with a decorative side and he’s going to figure out a way to really build on it. We will work closely with others and create this immersive experience for those in the festival world.”

AmandaLynn says she loves to travel and does so often because her job is in high demand. You can capture his works around the world and find the influence of different places in his art.

Closer to home, an exhibition featuring AmandaLynn and Mags’ mural “Magnificent” opens August 6, 6-9 p.m. at the women-owned Vibe Gallery Petaluma, just across the street from where the painting is on display. The duo curated an all-female art exhibition in the gallery, to celebrate murals and the power of women working together.

The pair are also holding an art exhibition called “Wildflowers” at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, opening October 13. AmandaLynn participates in a solo art exhibition at the Cooperage Brewery in Santa Rosa, opening July 2. AmandaLynn is also part of a non-profit called The Mural Project, which kicked off its first mural festival in Santa Rosa on June 20. Artists paint simultaneously at various locations across the city for 10 days, followed by block parties and mural shows.

Check out AmandaLynn and her collaboration with Lady Mags on her website, http://www.alynnpaint.com. Emma Molloy is an intern for Argus-Courier. She can be reached at emma.molloy@pressdemocrat.com.

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