Pre-fall craziness resulted in a quick trip to the east coast. While avoiding mosquitoes, poison sumac, and hanging with Simon the cat, I had the pleasure of enjoying Burlington, Vermont's Firehouse Gallery. Just as ArtSpace404 is an art venue and program of the Arts Council of Sonoma County, Firehouse is a gallery and program of Burlington City Arts. In 1995, Burlington City Arts won permission from the City of Burlington to convert the ground floor of the former firehouse building (now the Firehouse Center) into a fine arts gallery on a trial basis. Since then, the gallery has blossomed into Vermont's premiere location for contemporary art. Securing and exhibiting national-level artists from Vermont and elsewhere, the gallery's mission is to bring a unique arts experience to the public that will challenge, teach and engage. Pics to prove it:

Above: Ethan Bond-Watts. "Emergence", 2009. At 12 feet wide and 8 feet high, "Emergence" is a wind-powered kinetic sculpture using hand-blown glass elements and stretched linen that explore the spectacle of the natural force of the sun and wind and their remarkable potential as a source of energy.

So with all that good stuff in mind, my immediate thought was this: What's with Santa Rosa? Known primarily for its wine industry and possessing justifiable pride in its bevy of traditional fine artists, why can't we seem to jump the hurdle to also include, encourage, and foster contemporary work? With a population of 38,800 residents in 2000 compared to Santa Rosa's 161, 500 residents in 2008, Burlington is without a doubt substantially less urbanized than many of our North Bay cities. My point being - metropolitan environments have always been more likely to spur and house alternative art. So as the 5th largets city in San Francisco's Bay Area (after San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremeont), why can't Santa Rosa pony up and get (more) behind contemporary work?