John Oliver chooses San Francisco museum over Petaluma to show uncommon artwork assortment

Comedian John Oliver picked a San Francisco cartoon museum as the host of his unusual art collection in a nationwide grant contest Petaluma’s mayor also entered on behalf of her city.

The contest, announced in October 2020 on Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” was to find a temporary home for his art collection, as well as for two $10,000 donations to a museum and a food bank in the same area.

Oliver’s goal was to support museums and food banks that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett, a big Oliver fan, entered the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum and Redwood Empire Food Bank into the contest.

“I just thought, why not,” Barrett told the Petaluma Argus-Courier in November 2020. “I wrote a letter and sent it off.” In the letter, she noted the museum had taken a revenue hit during the pandemic and that the Santa Rosa food bank has provided thousands of meals to wildfire survivors.

The “John Oliver has your Rat Erotica” grant was inspired by Oliver’s collection of three bizarre paintings, including one of two rats in an erotic embrace, one of talk show host Wendy Williams eating a pork chop and a painting of Fox Business Network host Larry Kudlow’s ties (painted by Kudlow’s wife).

The Cartoon Art Museum is hosting those pieces in its gallery from Jan. 4 to 25. Advance ticket purchase is not required to see the pieces — visit cartoonart.org for more information.

The San Francisco museum was awarded a $10,000 donation and the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank will receive a $10,000 matching donation.

“We’re honored to be chosen as the West Coast venue for the exhibition’s tour and look forward to showcasing its quirky and offbeat works,” said Ron Evans, chairman of the museum’s Board of Trustees, on the museum’s website. “I think we can all do with a little added levity these days.”

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