Arthur Monroe abstract paintings at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) presents Arthur Monroe: A Tow to Carry, running May 11 through September 8, 2024. The exhibition is co-curated by Anna Valverde, Linda Keaton, and the artist’s son, Alistair Monroe.

This retrospective of the late Oakland-based artist Arthur Monroe draws from a seven-decade span from 1958 to 2011 and will feature more than 25 works, sourced from private collections, museums, and the artist’s estate. Monroe’s works reflect his travels within several of the major cultural movements of the mid-century—the New York School of Abstract Expressionism; the literary scene of New York’s East Village; and the modern Jazz and Beat circle in New York and the Bay Area.

In 1990 Monroe stated: “As a Black artist, I might have a tow to carry. I’m prepared to do that.”

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s etrospective of Arthur Monroe’s art is the most complete museum exhibition of the artist’s oeuvre in almost 20 years.

Monroe’s colorful, spirited canvases are charged with the energy of the cultural crossroads that the artist was part of—his friendship with Charlie Parker, mentorship with the renowned artist Hans Hofmann, a studio facing that of Willem de Kooning’s, and evenings at the infamous Cedar Tavern with other artists, including Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock.

As art critic Jan Avvgikos wrote in Artforum, “We need this art and this history. Now.”

There will be an Exhibition Reception on Saturday, May 18, 2024 from5-7:00 p.m. The event is free for SVMA members, and $10 for non-members. Register online at:

About Arthur Monroe

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Arthur Monroe was educated at The Boy’s School in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and at the Brooklyn Museum Art School (BMAS). Monroe then trained at the Art Students League under the private tutelage of the seminal abstractionist Hans Hofmann.

Monroe was part of the Abstract Expressionist art scene in the Bay Area, where after serving in the Korean War, he was part of the Beat Generation of writers, musicians, poets, and painters in San Francisco’s North Beach district. In the 1970s, Monroe set up one of California’s first legal live/workspaces at the Oakland Cannery, where he continued his work as an Abstract Expressionist, and was widely respected as an artist, educator, and community activist until his death in 2019.

About the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

Established in 1998, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a membership-supported 501(c) 3, non-profit organization that provides seasonal exhibitions of contemporary and modern art and educational and public programming for children, youth, and adults. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s mission: Building Community Around Art.

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is at 551 Broadway, one-half block up from Sonoma’s historic Plaza. Current Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. General admission is $10, free for SVMA members and 18 and under; additional information is available at or by calling 707.939.SVMA. Wednesday is always free.

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