Few would argue that a drive through the Napa Valley is a feast for the eyes, as beautiful as any watercolor landscape. But should you tire of rolling hills, budding vineyards, and wide-open skies, there are abundant options for the art-lover. Here are a few of the publicly accessible galleries, wineries, and sculpture walks that dot the valley. For exhibitions within wineries, the experience can only be enhanced with a tasting. Winemaking, after all, is an art as well.
di Rosa. Come here for an eclectic display of what’s considered the world’s most significant holding of Bay Area art. Included are such recognizable names as Robert Arneson, Squeak Carnwath, Mark di Severo, David Ireland, Bruce Nauman, Manel Neri, Nathan Oliveira, and William T. Wiley.
Napa ARTwalk. Launched in 2010 as a collaboration between the City of Napa and Arts Council Napa Valley, the ARTwalk is a juried collection of outdoor sculptures that’s rotated every two years. This year the installation represents 14 artists from five western states. Click on the link for a map and interactive audio tour. This is also a great activity for kids
Hess Collection. Founded by Donald Hess in 1966, this collection represents less than 25 percent of Hess’s total holdings – the rest are exhibited in museums internationally. He focuses on connecting with and supporting the long-term development of about 20 living artists, many of whom were unknown when he met them but have gone on to develop considerable renown. Included are such major artists as Robert Motherwell, Francis Bacon, and Gerhard Richter.
Yountville Art Walk. Within an easy stroll along Washington Street (and one block of Yount Street), you can enjoy 27 heroic-sized sculptures by artists from all over the world. The collection originated with four sculptures loaned by locally based, nationally known artist Gordon Heuther, and has continued to grow. The most recent piece, the 26-foot-tall “Chaos Pamplona” by artist Jedd Novatt, was installed in 2011. Click on the link to get a map and self-guided tour.
Napa Valley Museum. This intimate museum features a permanent exhibit on the Land and People of Napa Valley, as well as rotating exhibits spotlighting local artists and issues. Upcoming exhibitions include “ebb and flow,” an artistic project by Ryan Reynolds (not the actor) that integrates time-based representations of the contemporary Napa Valley landscape and historical photos of individuals who shaped the region.
HALL Wines. You’ve probably driven by the gleaming, 35-foot “Bunny Foo Foo” sculpture by Lawrence Argent on Highway 29 in St. Helena. But venture farther into the property and you’ll find works by some of today’s most acclaimed artists, including John Baldessari, Jim Campbell, Nick Cave, Jaume Plensa. You can get a guided tour through the whole collection while tasting some of HALL’s equally acclaimed wines.
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