During the week of Feb 25th, Sonoma County declared a local state of emergency as flood waters ravaged through the county. The damage of the surrounding community has been devastating. Among those affected were my in laws, Lonnie Monday & Lori Austin, who own a contemporary art gallery at The Barlow in Sebastopol.
I have had the pleasure of knowing the owners of Lori Austin Art Gallery for 10 years now. I feel so fortunate to be able to call them my family, as they have welcomed me into their lives with open arms. When I say that these people are kind, giving, genuine, hard-working, and some of the most outstanding souls I have in my life, I am only scratching the surface.
I feel fortunate to have seen first hand the dedication that it took to open their gallery 5 months ago. Both Lonnie and Lori have worked in the art business for decades. They know their stuff and actually met many, many years ago while working for a company with multiple galleries. Lori, especially, has poured her heart into this work. Prior to owning this gallery, and when she was working for another art gallery, you would honestly think it was her own just based on how devoted she was to her job.
When they opened their own art gallery at The Barlow last October, it felt like a huge accomplishment not just for them, but for our entire family. The joy on their faces when they shared the news of opening the gallery is something I will never forget. Finally, all the years of dedication they had given to others, was going to pay off in the form of their own gallery. Lori Austin Gallery was gorgeous. They were so proud, yet they knew that it wouldn’t be easy and that was a risk that they were willing to take.
Unfortunately, when the floods hit Sonoma County The Barlow was devastated with water rising as high as 5ft and the gallery sustained serious losses. Most of the fixtures, display cases, pedestals and some inventory was unsalvageable. As heartbreaking as this is for Lonnie, Lori, and our family, I know that their love, determination, and vision is not going to stop them.
As I write this today, I am simply hoping that this will be a small help to them as they start to rebuild their dream. The journey ahead is going to be challenging, and the expenses for clean up, loss of income, loss of revenue, etc. is going to be significant. What I know for sure though, is that they will continue to show how truly resilient and dedicated they are to recreating a beautiful space to showcase amazing artists, but they may just need some help from the community to make that happen.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you ahead of time for your generosity.