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Get Your Art Fix

Wine Country is booming, but its ever-expanding portfolio isn’t limited to winemakers.



The Hess Collection impresses with a gallery of contemporary modern art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local art is growing amid these vineyard-covered hills. From galleries and comic strips, to sculpture gardens and world-class collections, Sonoma County and Napa Valley have something for everyone. These creative and spirited spots offer everything you’ll need for an art adventure. You may even wind up taking a piece of Wine Country home with you.


 

Israel Valencia

di Rosa

Even if you know nothing about di Rosa, the oversized orange gates you come across as you drive through Napa Valley’s famed Carneros region are a clue that something out of the ordinary lies beyond them. Surrounded by vineyards, but not concerned with making wine, di Rosa is home to the largest collection of contemporary Bay Area art in the world.

The fomer estate of collector Rene di Rosa, the more than 200-acre property has a lake, wildlife preserve (look out for peacocks when on a tour), and nearly 2,000 works by approximately 800 artists. Along with lakefront views, the Gatehouse Gallery is home to a welcome desk, gift shop, and di Rosa’s changing exhibitions. Based on a True Story: Highlights from the di Rosa Collection, featuring work of Napa artist Diane Flyr, is on view through May 28. Drop-in guests are welcome here, but di Rosa features two additional galleries and a sculpture park that are accessible only when on a guided tour.

Be sure to look up when exploring the Residence Gallery. Art is everywhere, including hanging from the ceilings. Originally a winery, the century-old stone building was the home of di Rosa and his wife, Veronica, from 1960 to 1996. The Napa County Landmark is packed, in a fabulously fun way, with hundreds of works shown salon-style from floor to ceiling.

Guided tours provide a quick peek at the Sculpture Meadow located on the north end of the property. Home to more than a dozen sculptures, it merits further exploration with the Outdoor Sculpture Tour offered on the first Sunday of each month. Guided Nature Hikes, held select Saturdays from May through October, trek through the Sculpture Meadow to the top of Milliken Peak. The three-mile (round-trip) hike is considered moderately strenuous, with a 650-feet elevation gain that rewards participants with Instagram-worthy Napa Valley views.

The Main Gallery is closed through summer 2017 for renovations. The reinstallation will feature work and special commissions by contemporary Bay Area artists.

Admission: The Gatehouse Gallery, $5. Guided Tour, $12. Outdoor Sculpture Tour, $15. Guided Nature Hikes, $20. Plan accordingly; di Rosa is closed Monday, Tuesday, and a handful of holidays. 5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa, (707) 226-5991, dirosaart.org.

 

courtesy di Rosa, Napa

Meet Diane Flyr

Before becoming a real estate agent, Diane Flyr worked as a professional ceramicist. Her ceramics have been shown in galleries across the country, but she did not know she had pieces in di Rosa’s collection until she met the curator in the early ’90s. She currently paints in oils, has had works featured at wineries throughout Napa Valley, and is thrilled to be showcased at di Rosa.

Q: How does living in Wine Country influence your work?
A: Since I moved here, I became an avid gardener, so organic forms became much more a part of my work—both in ceramics, where I created towers of vegetables and organic forms, and in my paintings.

Q: What inspired you to become an artist?
A: I’ve loved to draw since I was a small child. I took painting and ceramics in high school in Sacramento, where Mel Ramos was my painting instructor, [and] developed an interest in contemporary art at that time. I always wanted to be an artist. Despite having another career to support myself, I have always had a studio to work in either clay or paint. It is an integral part of my life.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do with family and friends when they visit you in Wine Country?
A: Anything but wine tasting! Unless my visitors insist. I love taking people to see all the art possibilities: di Rosa and The Hess Collection (which has a world-class collection), as well as Turnbull and Markham Wineries for the photographs. Mumm and Clos Pegase also have interesting art. Visitors here are so surprised by the art that is available, and how much more there is to do than wine, although that is our main industry. Going to restaurants and bars is also a treat here.

 

Napa Valley

The Hess Art Collection

Although only eight miles from downtown Napa, the Mount Veeder location of the Hess Collection Winery makes it feel remote. A curvy, scenic wooded road with a 15 mph speed limit sets the tone as it leads visitors up the mountainside, but what’s waiting a little more than a mile above is worth the slow-going twists and turns.
Along with a wine-tasting room, the renovated three-story stone winery built in 1903 is home to a portion of Donald Hess’ international collection of contemporary art. His collection spans six decades and features artists such as Francis Bacon, Franz Gertsch, Gerhard Richter, and Magdalena Abakanowicz. A window along the gallery stairs also provides visitors with a view of the fermentation tanks in the winery’s production area.

Admission: Free. iPods are available for self-guided tours. Tasting reservations are recommended. 4411 Redwood Rd., Napa, (877) 707-4377, hesscollection.com.

 

RiverHouse by Bespoke Collection’s casual tasting room exhibits flashy contemporary art.

RiverHouse by Bespoke Collection

Downtown Napa is home to almost two dozen tasting rooms, all within walking distance, and all with their own unique personality and vibe. Located along the Napa River, RiverHouse is one of the latest additions to the thriving scene. Strolling on the Riverfront Promenade walkway, it can be hard to tell if RiverHouse is an art gallery or tasting room. In fact, it’s both. Tastings from Blackbird Vineyards are poured in a casual, friendly setting that’s also a contemporary art gallery. So along with buying a bottle or two, you can purchase a painting, sculpture, or variety of other artistic objects to show off at home.

Admission: Free. Tastings start at $55 per person; reservations recommended. 604 Main St., Napa, (707) 252-4440, bespokecollection.com/riverhouse.

 

By Sara Frances

Meet Gordon Huether

Born in New York and raised in Napa, Gordon Huether’s goal is to make the world a better place through his art. Huether says he has no signature style. “I’m really about telling other people’s stories,” he adds. “Each project has its own story it wants to tell.”

Q: How does living in Wine Country influence your work?
A: I have lived in Napa most of my life, and since I was a child, I’ve been struck by the natural beauty of this area. Nature is an incredible force of inspiration—the natural world everywhere, Napa Valley in particular.

Q: What inspired you to become an artist?
A: I decided when I was maybe eight years old that I had the heart and soul of an artist, so what inspired me was the simple fact that we should be who we are, and being an artist is who I am.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do with family and friends when they visit you in Wine Country?
A: Aside from the obvious, visiting one or two of the hundreds of wineries we have here is on the top of the list. I look for wineries that have notable architecture and beautiful views of the natural beauty. The other top of the list is to enjoy the many incredible restaurants we have in our downtown. Cole’s Chop House, Angèle Restaurant and Bar, and Miminashi are amongst my favorites.

 

Luke Snyder

Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley

Like RiverHouse, Ma(i)sonry is one of five gallery locations in Wine Country curated by Aerena Galleries and Gardens. (There are also sculpture gardens at Rutherford’s Auberge du Soleil, Solage in Calistoga, Sonoma’s MacArthur Place, and Napa’s Blackbird Vineyards.) But don’t let the connection sway you from visiting both locations. Collections can cross over, but the difference in presentation can be dramatic, thanks in part to the historic early 1900s farmhouse that Ma(i)sonry calls home. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Ma(i)sonry also has a backyard garden loaded with amusing sculptures. The stone fire pit and plenty of cushy furniture (complete with blankets) makes the space a popular tasting spot all year round. Ma(i)sonry is a winery collective, pouring more than two dozen wines. Guests can peruse the gallery anytime, but if opting for a tasting, reservations are recommended.

Admission: Free. Tastings range from $35 to $55 per guest, depending on the wines selected. 6711 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 944-0889, maisonry.com.

 

Hall Napa Valley

At a towering 35 feet, the stainless-steel Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the vineyards at Hall Napa Valley is anything but little. Known to dress up for holidays, the giant rabbit gets its name from the children’s poem, and is just one of more than 35 art pieces on display at Hall. Other nearby comrades, including a small flock of sheep and a contemplating camel, create a whimsical feel at the winery entrance. Modern artwork, ranging from water sculptures to illuminated pieces, are displayed both inside and out. A Wine and Art Tour runs every Sunday and includes a progressive tasting. The Hallmark Tour and Tasting is offered daily on the hour, and though not focused on art, it does cover some pieces in the collection.

Admission: Both tours cost $40 per person; reservations recommended. 401 St. Helena Highway South, St. Helena, (707) 967-2626, hallwines.com.

 

Adrián Gregorutti

Gordon Huether Studio and Gallery

Gordon Huether creates beauty and tells stories with his large-scale works of art. Interspersed throughout the world, his site-specific designs are known for their use of glass and salvaged materials. With more than 75 public art commissions and about 170 private art installations to his credit, Huether’s work can be seen in a variety of spaces including airports, hotels, churches, civic buildings, and recreation centers.

Huether boasts numerous permanent art installations in downtown Napa, including Napa’s 9/11 Memorial Garden, and two recently placed installations at the new Culinary Institute of America facility at Copia: an 18-foot fork covered with roughly 8,000 forks, and a tribute to the legacy of Margrit and Robert Mondavi. Most of the installations are created at his studio in Napa; guests, including families and dogs, are welcome to visit and see the design and fabrication process in action.

Admission: Free for groups of four or less. 1821 Monticello Rd., Napa, (707) 255-5954, gordonhuether.com.

 

Sonoma County

by DJ Ashton

Charles M. Schulz Museum

“Happiness is a warm puppy” and a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum. More than just a cartoon strip, the loveable Peanuts characters still entertain and influence fans, young and old. The museum is in Santa Rosa, where Schulz spent 42 years drawing his beloved characters.

Smile-inducing from the moment you step into the lobby, exhibits take you back to your childhood. Up to 100 original Peanuts comic strips are on view at any one time, and a 100-seat theater plays Peanuts animated specials. Plan on 90 minutes to two hours for touring the museum, or possibly longer if viewing the 30-minute animated movies. Outdoor gardens include a Snoopy Labyrinth and the kite-eating tree made famous in the comic strip.

Admission: Adults $12, Seniors 62 and over $8, Children 4-18 and college students $5. 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa, (707) 579-4452, schulzmuseum.org.

 

 

by Gretchen Gause

Meet Molly Perez

Perez is a mixed media artist, using acrylics, oil, paper, bookbindings, resin, and encaustic (purified beeswax) in her works. Creating texture with salvaged materials, she’s spent the last 15 years collecting various forms of paper for her art.

Q: How does living in Wine Country influence your work?
A: I live on Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg, and being surrounded by nature is always inspiring for me. Santa Rosa is a tough art market. It’s forced me to take my work to other places like New York City, Healdsburg, Seattle, or even Mendocino to sell it. I’ve tried experimenting with selling my work online through a gallery, and adapting by working small and on paper for price point and easy shipping. Also, I’ve developed reproductions on wood panel to create a more affordable type of art.

Q: What inspired you to become an artist?
A: My mother was a curator; her focus was contemporary California Native American Art. I was surrounded by art, grew up with art openings. I met gallery owners and had encouragement from other artists, including studio visits.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do with family and friends when they visit you in Wine Country?
A: I love going to the ocean, taking hikes, or spending time on the river and taking people to my favorite restaurants.

Tibidabo Photography

 

courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism

Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent

As you head toward Sebastopol on Highway 12, it’s hard to hold back a smile. Even if you somehow miss the jumbo-size, loony cow lingering along the roadside, the prominent pup guarding the entrance to the Humane Society will certainly fetch your attention. The husband-and-wife team of Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent refer to themselves as urban folk artists; using what other people would consider trash, Amiot creates cartoon-like sculptures while Laurent does the painting.

Keep your eyes open for sculptures throughout town. Some are installed at the Barlow, a local food, wine, and art marketplace, but the heaviest concentration of their work can be found along Florence Avenue in Sebastopol, where it seems almost every front yard has a piece of junk art to call its own.

Admission: Free. Most sculptures are on private property but can be viewed from the road or sidewalk. Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, patrickamiot.com.

 


courtesy di Rosa, Napa

The Tibetan Gallery and Studio

A one-of-a-kind project is underway in Sebastopol at Tashi Dhargyal’s studio. Visitors can watch as Dhargyal works on a thanbhochi, or ceremonial Buddhist scroll painting. Scaffolding is a must to access the two-story-tall canvas. Dhargyal uses traditional materials and methods, including hand grinding mineral pigments to create the paints he uses. The thanbhochi will take an estimated five years to finish. Once completed, it will be donated to a monastery in Tibet.

The Tibetan Gallery & Studio is in the Barlow in Sebastopol and is open to the public on weekends and by appointment. The gallery also has a small shop that sells Dhargyal’s prints, an adult coloring book based on the thanbhochi, and other gifts and jewelry.

Admission: Free; donations are welcome. 6770 McKinley St., Ste. 130, Sebastopol, (707) 509-3777, preservetibetanart.org.

 

 

courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism

Marijke’s Grove at Paradise Ridge Winery

It doesn’t take long after passing through the gate at Paradise Ridge to realize art has a starring role at this family-owned winery. On the left, a two-story Love sculpture quickly emerges, alongside another piece called Temple of Remembrance and a handful of others that share the open meadow. To the right lies Marijke’s Grove, home to a colorful sculpture garden hidden amongst knobby oak trees and dedicated in memory of Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars. (She and her husband, Walter, founded Paradise Ridge Winery in 1994.)

With plenty of shade and places to sit, it’s easy to stay a while, enjoying art and the deer and birds that inhabit Marijke’s Grove. Exhibitions in the Grove change annually and are sponsored and curated by the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation, a nonprofit organization that places sculptures in public places throughout Sonoma County. The Paradise Ridge tasting room is a short drive past Marijke’s Grove.

Admission: Free. Tasting Fee is $15. 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr., Santa Rosa, (707) 528-9463, prwinery.com.

 

Kate Eilertsen

SOFA, South A Street Arts District, Santa Rosa

Known as SOFA for short, the South A Street Arts District is home to more than two dozen artists’ studios. The colorful and compact neighborhood lends itself to strolling, especially along Art Alley, where vibrant murals dazzle. If you see an open door, don’t be afraid to peek in—you never know what someone might be creating. Weekends are typically livelier and thus the best time to explore.

Along with studios and galleries, there are some stores, cafés, and restaurants. Jam Jar, a shop and studio extension co-owned by Molly Perez and Jaime Jean Wilson, carries art, jewelry, and other handmade gifts, 90 percent of which are crafted by local artists.

Admission: Free. South A Street, between Sonoma and Sebastopol avenues, Santa Rosa, sofasantarosa.com, mollyperezstudio.com.

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