‘It’s Just Ashes’: Northern California’s Wildfires Have Taken a Devastating Toll on Local Artists

As firefighters battle to contain the wildfires raging across Northern California—which have left 41 people dead and scorched more than 217,000 acres—local artists are beginning to grapple with the damage to their homes and studios. Some have lost everything. Among them is Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, whose house burned to the ground along with original artwork by the beloved cartoonist.

Charles Schulz lived in the split-level Santa Rosa home from the 1970s until his death in 2000. “It’s the house he died in. All of their memorabilia and everything is all gone,” his son, Monte Schulz, told the Associated Press. (The home of Monte’s brother Craig Schulz also burned down.)

Luckily, the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, home to most of the artist’s original artwork and memorabilia, was spared by the disaster. As of October 14, the institution expected to be closed for at least two weeks in the aftermath of the blaze.

“I am grateful that the museum in Santa Rosa [still] exists to share the work of this wonderful man with the world,” Jean Schulz, who safely evacuated ahead of the fire, told the Washington Post.

Even those who have witnessed other California wildfires say the current conflagration is unprecedented. The artist Stuart Palley told artnet News that the disaster is “a tragedy unlike anything I’ve seen in my career photographing wildfires.” The photographer just completed a five-day shoot documenting the damage as a follow-up to his series “Terra Flamma: Wildfires at Night,” shot in Southern California in 2014 and 2015.

But even as they reel from the loss of their homes and, in some cases, their life’s work, many artists are already pouring their harrowing experiences back into their art. Read more

2018-10-23T20:03:19+00:00