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Yountville Tunnel Murals

Artists Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel unveil their gorgeous two-part mural on a Yountville underpass.

Memory of a Tree adorns the Highway 29 underpass in Yountville.

When Longtime Best friends and creative partners Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel were asked to design and paint a public artwork in Yountville, they were thrilled. 

“When we saw how beautiful Yountville is, it prompted so many creative ideas for us,” Lacin says. “The light is so amazing and dreamlike, and the landscape just triggered a positive response in my soul.”

The Sacramento natives, who specialize in site-specific artworks, founded their own atelier, LC Studio Tutto, in 2008. Since then they have created some 75 projects, including murals, custom paintings, and interactive installations, but there was a special connection they felt when they received the commission to design murals for either side of a Yountville underpass. “We had the opportunity to engage the community in the process,” Christophel says. “We asked residents to share their thoughts about what they wanted the work to convey. It takes a lot of trust for a community to open up its doors to us, and we are so grateful for their trust and participation.” 

Hennessy Christophel takes a break while painting.

The final artwork, titled Memory of a Tree, was a month in the making; it was formally dedicated in late June. Spanning both sides of the underpass that connects Yountville’s downtown with the Veterans Home, Memory of a Tree is a surreal composition of abstracted oak leaves and branches. The layered palette of soothing blue tones and earthy rust colors is punctuated with tiny gold brushstrokes, a lustrous touch that reflects the shimmering light of Wine Country. 

“In the course of researching this project, we learned that the area was originally covered with oak trees,” Lacin says. “So we wanted Memory of a Tree to give people a powerful way to connect with their environment, both past and present.” 

And the fact that the work is on view in a tunnel means that viewers will connect with it at different speeds: driving by in a car, cycling past it, or leisurely walking along one of the underpass’s wide sidewalks. As a result, the artists designed the mural to work on various levels, offering immediate impact at first sight as well as a more nuanced impression upon closer reflection. 

“Our lives tend to be so rushed,” Lacin adds. “So it is important to remember to pause, look up, and engage with our natural world.” The Sacramento natives took a month to complete the mural.

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