BARBARA WHITE PERRY is a prolific Sonoma illustrator, local nonprofit advocate and Sonoma Treasure Artist. The Sonoma’s Cultural and Fine Arts Commission noted her accomplishments as an artist but also outlined her contributions to the community through her service on numerous charitable committees: a three-year stint as president and chair of the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation raising money for arts education in Sonoma Valley schools, and her leadership of the Cottage and Garden Tours in Sonoma which raised $128,000 for the restoration of Maysonnave House, the home of the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation. White Perry encourages all community members to practice the fine art of volunteering. “By volunteering and supporting the Valley’s nonprofits,” she says, “we can all enrich our community in so many ways.”
Barbara began painting and drawing at an early age in rural St. Charles, Illinois, and has always been interested in old properties and structures. Sonoma Valley has been her home since 1985, so why not capture, in ink and vine-charcoal, what she loves? So began her drawing and writing. White Perry’s abiding love for Sonoma Valley forms the foundation of her life’s work.
In March 2015, White Perry had a month-long solo exhibit in the beautiful Gallery 212 at the Sonoma Community Center. There were 42 images and stories and was well attended. Because of that exhibit people encouraged her to create a book. Her popular book, Drawing Sonoma, is a collection of ink and vine-charcoal drawings of Sonoma Valley’s most captivating historic properties-structures and vistas lost to time, neglect or development, and unique barns and buildings that few people have ever seen. As she drew, she also researched the history of the properties. Both their artistic representation and their stories are told in the book, thus creating a permanent historical record. The first and second editions sold out. Now, after 23 years, Drawing Sonoma, is in its Third Edition, 73 images and 161 pages.
Pointing out the importance of art as a vital and significant influence on how we see the ever-changing landscape of our community, White Perry draws on her own interest in history and architecture in using her art to celebrate the past and comprehend the possibilities of the future. In addition to the ink drawings, White Perry creates vivid oil paintings inspired by the vistas of the Sonoma Valley.
Barbara’s design and construction of her vineyard home and studio won the Sonoma League’s Preservation Award. Barbara and her husband Fred have lived in Sonoma Valley for over 38 years. Their Zinfandel vineyard, next to Buena Vista Winery, was originally owned by Count Agoston Haraszthy who founded Buena Vista in 1857.