Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

A New Arena

Art, sculpture, and artisan sensibility take center stage at Michael Polenske’s rebranded galleries.



Cedric Glasier

Always one to enter new arenas himself, entrepreneur-curator Michael Polenske is elevating his galleries with a daring spirit, under the aegis of Aerena Galleries and Gardens.

Polenske says his inspiration comes from a 1910 Theodore Roosevelt speech that states, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … ”

Building on the success of his trailblazing Ma(i)sonry gallery/tasting room in Yountville— as well as his Healdsburg gallery and I. Wolk gallery in St. Helena—Polenske is now honing his vision. Each of the Aerena spaces will add carefully selected artisanal goods to the existing lively mix of painting, sculpture, furniture, antiques, art books, and objets de vertu.

The rechristened gallery at Ma(i)sonry will continue to offer deluxe wine tasting at the historic 1904 stone building and garden, with vintages from 24 wineries, including Pahlmeyer, Fisher, and Skipstone.

In addition to the three gallery locations, Aerena curates the sculpture gardens at spectacular properties including Rutherford’s Auberge du Soleil, Solage in Calistoga, MacArthur Place just off the Sonoma square, and Napa’s Blackbird Vineyards.

Mik Hollis, who manages the Healdsburg gallery, explains the approach: “We think about our venues as a space to honor our artisans, who ‘strive valiantly.’ And as Theodore Roosevelt reminds us, ‘It is not the critic who counts.’ ”

The focus is on culling a great mix of artisans, he says. “We have longtime favorite Kate Salenfriend, who makes these gorgeous gold and silver gilded paintings of vineyard scenes. And then we have newcomer Chase Langford, who has always worked with old maps,” Hollis says. “Both are totally different, and each speaks to his or her own audience.”

As for the unusual spelling of the name of the rebranded business, Hollis is philosophical.

“We do everything with an eye towards the aesthetic. We borrowed a bit from history to create an updated version of the word for our name,” he says. “It makes you stop and ponder, and it signals the valiant vision we want to share with the world.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Where the Vines Grow

Explore some of Wine Country’s undiscovered appellations.

Let’s Play in Wine Country

Don’t miss the variety of activities Wine Country has lined up for the summer.

Retro Revival

Sleep in vintage style at the revamped Astro in Santa Rosa.

Inn Style

Three classic wine county lodgings get contemporary updates.

Land of the Free

Napa County residents and visitors will be able to enjoy thousands of acres of undeveloped ridgetops; wild, bubbling streams; and abundant wildlife preserves for generations to come, thanks to an ambitious group of local landowners and the Land Trust of Napa County.

Autumn Outings

Discover the diversity of Wine Country with these fall tours.

Wine Country Itineraries: Getting to know the towns of Napa and Sonoma counties

You’re in Wine Country, and your performance doesn’t start for a while. You don’t feel like visiting a winery, and you don’t have time for dinner. All of a sudden you realize that you don’t really know Wine Country all that well. Here’s a selection of things to see and do in Petaluma and Yountville.

Fresh Spots to Shop

Looking for something special? Go here.

Signature Sonoma

Designer Ann Jones chose Sonoma as her home away from home a decade ago. What made the acclaimed designer embrace this quiet town? She shows us with a tour of her favorite spots.

Wine Made Easy

Become a vintner with Wine Country’s posh new wine club.

Viva Italia

If you can’t make it to Venice, take a trip inside the private Calistoga residence of renowned Italian muralist Carlo Marchiori.

Art Along the Napa Valley Wine Train Tracks

The Rail Arts District Napa has transformed an otherwise humdrum commuter path into an exciting new cultural destination.
Edit ModuleShow Tags