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Art in the Napa Valley Takes Wondrous Forms

by Joanne M. Yates

The wine country seems to attract creative talent, from great winemakers and chefs to gifted artists who strikingly portray the world around them. Some of the best regional, national and international fine artists are represented in several prestigious galleries throughout the Napa Valley.

Napa

Patricia Sweetow Gallery
1144 Main Street
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 244-2577

An exceptional gallery in the North Bay area for contemporary fine art is this gallery in downtown Napa. The majority of her artists are professors and teachers throughout California who represent both established artists and those who are just emerging onto the contemporary art scene. She also carries works by several Latin American artists, including that of Claudia Bernardi, an Argentine now living in the US.

Bernardi's frescoes on paper depict powerful, haunting images that represent the desperate need to believe in the future and the ability of the human spirit to survive despite crushing trauma. She was one of seven artists invited by the World Friendship Center to participate in "A Celebration of Hope," a memorial exhibition in Japan that remembered the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Sweetow rotates artists monthly and keeps many works available for viewing. This gallery is well worth a visit if you enjoy contemporary art.

Yountville

Yountville has become a haven for a number of galleries and these are three of the best. All are located on Washington Street just north of the 1870 shopping complex.

Canard
6550 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-0131

Canard exhibits works of well-known area artists, including those of Gilbert Wheat who studied in both the US and Vienna, Austria. He works in oils, acrylics and pencil, focusing on rural landscapes and historical locations in California. Canard also has a small selection of wild life art, including prints, original paintings, carvings and sculptures.

Images Fine Art North
6540 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-0404

Images Fine Arts North features original paintings by over 100 world-renowned artists such as Alvar, Behrens, Fairchild, Gorman, Jiang, Neiman, Orlando, A.B., and Pradzynski. (Pradzynski's works are some of the most evocative and nostalgic works depicting Paris that I've had the pleasure of seeing.) Another artist of special interest is London-born David Dodsworth who creates striking abstract images using themes of the ancient world. His works are colorful and thought provoking, calling up strong associations with cave painters and the powerful symbolism of their primitive drawings. His medium is carborundum, a relatively rare method of creating three-dimensional works on hand-made papers using acrylic modeling paste, which can be worked into images and painted by the artist.

Images Fine Art South
6505 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-0606

Images Fine Art South displays a more eclectic collection of work, also by internationally respected artists. Both galleries frequently rotate their artists and keep a large selection of works available for viewing that are not currently displayed in the gallery. Sculptures, serigraphs, lithographs, intaglios and etchings are also offered through both galleries.

St. Helena

In St. Helena you'll find Barbara Ryan's Gallery on Main Street as well as the I. Wok Gallery, also located on Main Street. The Gallery on Main Street has expanded in the past several years to accommodate a larger selection of artists, including several who are internationally known. Most of the work is created by California artists, several of whom show exclusively in this region with Ryan.

Gallery on Main Street
1359 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-3350

The art shown at The Gallery on Main Street generally represents a broad base of techniques and themes handled in more traditional styles. (Though there is a nice selection of whimsical work featuring animals and word play.) Two artists whose work is perhaps some of the best known from the wine country are Gail Packer and Sarah Barnes. Packer's etchings depict animal and rural themes while Packer's acrylics are innocent, primitive renditions of pastoral scenes.

I. Wok Gallery
1235 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-8801

The I. Wok Gallery represents esteemed San Francisco Bay Area artists who sculpt or work with clay, oils, acrylics, and graphic techniques to create some stunning contemporary works. Willis Lee's extraordinary photogravures of flowers are beautifully sensual creations-rich in detail and tones emanating from the captured light that makes the flower's petals glow with life.

Helen Berggruen's oils on canvas are colorful, active works portraying the innate qualities of the things around us: the candid animation of an old Dodge truck, the strut of a can opener, the kitchen table strewn with ingredients for the next meal. Berggruen's paintings, the works of other artists and the ceramic floral sculptures of Robert Kvenild show extremely well in this airy, upstairs gallery.

Calistoga

Lee Youngman Gallery
1316 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-0585

The northernmost town in Napa Valley features the Lee Youngman Gallery, known nationally for its selection of traditional American realism. Two of the gallery's most-admired artists are Paul Youngman and Roddy Love, the latter being the grandson of world-renowned Ralph Love, who was an early California painter.

The popularity of the artists who are represented by owner Lee Love Youngman has given rise to the gallery's yearly gala and exhibition entitled "Southwest Art in the Wine Country Show," presented each fall. Enthusiasts and collectors will find works by forty of the West's finest painters and sculptors who produce traditional renderings of California landscapes, Indian life, or western/cowboy scenes in oil, watercolor and pencil. Sculptures made from alabaster, wood and bronze depict West coast and southwestern themes.

Please feel free to contact any of these galleries for individual appointments or to add your name to their mailing lists for special events and shows.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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