In 1963, the Napa Valley Arts Council was created, a foundation uniting the region’s cultural community. In 1970, Margit Biever Mondavi, the wife of Robert Mondavi, opened a 5,000-square-foot gallery at the winery, which was the region’s first venue to combine wine and art.
Today, Napa Valley has more than 40 arts and culture institutions and 70 wineries housing more than 10,000 works of art. St. Helena and Calistoga have nearly 20 contemporary and classic art galleries between them, and there are more than 90 public art installations peppered across the region.
The Napa Valley celebrates its culture during annual events, including Arts in April, which offers more than 60 arts-related events throughout the region, and Festival Napa Valley, July 20-28, 2018, a ten-day music fête. Below is a highlight of Napa Valley’s vast wealth of art and culture.
The Napa Valley Vine Trail, Napa Valley Wine Train, and members of the local arts community have partnered to create the Rail Arts District (RAD), the first art district in the Napa Valley. RAD, inspired by Wynwood in Miami, unveiled its first outdoor murals in January 2017, bringing art to an industrial section of the City of Napa. Inspired by visually innovative arts districts in urban areas around the world, RAD extends along a widely used 1.7-mile section of the Napa Valley Vine Trail. There are 30 additional murals, including works incorporating pieces of rubble from the 2014 earthquake, planned over the next five to seven years.
di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, is a catalyst for transformative experiences with contemporary art of Northern California. The nonprofit art center presents dynamic exhibitions and educational programs for all ages and houses the foremost collection of contemporary Bay Area art in the world. A wide range of styles, media, and subject matter provide an overview of the creative energy and freedom to experiment that characterize this region of California. di Rosa features three galleries, a sculpture park, a 35-acre lake, and a wildlife preserve, all located on 217 scenic acres in Napa Valley’s famed Carneros region. Part one of the new year-long exhibit, "Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times," will open on January 27, 2018. It will be di Rosa’s largest and most ambitious exhibition to date.
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia, the brainchild of Julia Child as well as Robert and Margrit Mondavi, re-opened in fall 2016 after an eight-year closure. In 2018, the food and wine center will include the first culinary arts museum featuring the 2,000-piece personal cookware collection of Williams-Sonoma’s founder, Chuck Williams.
Hess Collection features the largest contemporary art gallery within a winery in Napa Valley, and is part of a historic site where wine was first produced in the 1860s.
The Napa ARTWalk launched in 2010 as a collaboration between the City of Napa and the Arts Council Napa Valley. This year’s installation represents 14 artists from five western states and the collection of outdoor sculptures rotate every two years.
Napa-based artist, Gordon Huether, specializes in large-scale, site-specific artwork which can be seen in airports, civic centers, health care settings, university and corporate campuses and transit stations throughout the world. In addition, Huether has a robust fine art practice, and has completed more than 200 private commissions in the course of his 30-year career. The ‘Hay Barn” a 15,000 square foot facility located in the City of Napa, houses his design studio, fabrication facilities, administrative offices and a gallery featuring Gordon’s fine art and public art maquettes. Guests are welcome to visit the Hay Barn, located at 1821 Monticello Rd. in Napa. Gordon Huether Studio is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.gordonhuether.com
View 27 heroic-sized sculptures along Yountville’s Art Walk, featuring artists from around the world. Yountville is also home to the Napa Valley Museum, a showcase for local artists and local history.
Set in a historic 1904 stone manor, Ma(i)sonry is an eclectic design and wine tasting gallery in Yountville. Decorated with a mix of whimsical and gothic objects, such as a brass tricycle and a skull incased in glass – everything in the building is for sale. A mere 200 yards away, don’t miss a peek at French Laundry’s three-acre garden, considered a work of art in itself.
Robert Mondavi Winery, the birthplace of art in the region, continues to offer rotating and permanent art collections. The first piece Margrit Mondavi acquired was painted by local artist Guli Buchanan in 1967 and is still on display at the property.
In the 1860s, the fertile soil of St. Helena attracted pioneer vintners Charles Krug and George Belden Crane. Today, historic vineyards and farmhouses intermingle with boutiques and several art galleries that now line the town’s Main Street. Each gallery has its own personality; such as Caldwell Snyder Gallery with contemporary American, European and Latin fine art and Kokopelli Gallery offering a collection of Native American pieces.
The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum houses the largest collection of Stevensoniana on public display in the world.
The Baker Sisters, founders of the Ehlers Society, a collective of artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, and performers, feature an outdoor gallery (a former cattle farm) located off Highway 29 in St. Helena. An 1820’s hay barn serves as their working art studio with the grounds featuring eclectic installations, such as a chicken coop re-purposed into bar and a 1940s pick-up truck transformed into a bed.
HALL Wines in St. Helena, is known for its world-class sculptures, including a 35-foot bunny leaping over the vineyard.
Old Faithful Geyser’s Geology Museum is part of the geyser experience. The geyser is one of the most visited places in the American West and most photographed places in the state of California. The rainbows that form in the predictable sprays of mist are a surprising feature in this serene setting at the top of Napa Valley.
Chateau Montelena winery is set in one of the most peaceful spots in Calistoga, a stone castle carved into a hillside overlooking a Chinese garden, lake and vineyards reaching out to the base of Mount Saint Helena. In the center of the lake are two red hexagonal pagodas in the Chinese style. Each pagoda is decorated with six mythical figures inspired by a design found in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
For additional information on Arts and Culture in the Napa Valley, visit https://www.visitnapavalley.com/things-to-do/arts-culture/