Art Space Fit For a Party

The new Paul Mahder Gallery in Healdsburg has a museum vibe.

Paul Mahder Gallery in Healdsburg. (photo by Chris Hardy)

Healdsburg is abuzz about the new Paul Mahder Gallery, an 8,500-square-foot art space that’s so like a museum that visitors often ask if there is a charge for meandering through the collections. Once Mahder welcomes them, many spend an hour or more absorbing the splendor, with no admission charge.

“This is my sacred space, where people come to be moved and to see something that touches their souls,” Mahder said. “I think artists are today’s prophets. They are the ones speaking to us about what life is supposed to be about.”

Despite its museum-like allure, the gallery sells the works at prices ranging from $350 to — get ready — $280,000. Mahder represents 27 artists from the around the world, including the late abstract expressionist Hans Burkhardt. Most of the work is contemporary and includes Mahder’s own fine-art photography.

His space gives Healdsburg a fresh art-scene cachet. There are 23 galleries to visit, from the talent-filled Upstairs Gallery quaintly tucked above the Levin & Co. bookstore on the plaza, to Mahder’s massive off-plaza, Manhattan-esque space that includes paintings, sculpture, digital images and drawings.

There are two large main galleries and several smaller viewing areas. The space is notable for its soaring black ceilings with skylights, and charcoal-stained floors Mahder spent a month and a half sanding himself, on hands and knees. It’s said to be the largest single-floor gallery in California.

Mahder, who also owns a gallery in San Francisco, has become a good new neighbor to Healdsburg, donating the new space for nonprofit events. The gallery is also available to rent for weddings, meetings and parties. Book it before what’s bound to be a rush.