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There were parallels, direct references, responses, and full involvement of the remains of the Tubbs Fire into this year’s Arts in April weekend kickoff in Calistoga.

It wasn’t something anyone was trying to avoid or exploit, rather any subtle or direct association of the fires was approached in more of a healing or matter-of-fact manner, an understanding of sorts that everyone was affected in some way, but not all the same way.

Flower Bomb – inspired by San Francisco’s de Young Museum’s Bouquets to Art – kicked off the weekend with a reception on Thursday with the theme “Artist Spring: The Fire and Rose Are One.”

Floral designers are given photos of an artist’s art that will be on display to use as their inspiration to create a floral design. When Erica Grube-Ramey received a photo of Karen Lynn Ingalls’ painting series, she didn’t know that the ash incorporated into the art came from a studio located on the same road where her house was, and that the studio – where Ingalls’ worked and stored her art – was destroyed in the Tubbs Fire last October.

Grube-Ramey selected an image in the center of the photo from which to work and used black calla lilies, thistle, and black-spray painted poppy pods to create the bottom of the display. It evoked the scorched earth in Ingalls’ paintings of the landscape after the fires. The flowers were held in a metal pot, a recovered piece from Grube-Ramey’s home. Orange, peach, pink and yellow flowers spray above the black.

“It’s like the flowers are rising from the ashes,” Ingalls said.

Grube-Ramey still goes home to search the ground for remnants, and even after the property had been scraped clear of debris a tiny fragment of her past waited for her.

“My parents used to collect small glass animals,” she said. And one day, even after a large earth mover had abraded the land, on the ground was a small glass poodle.

Working on the floral display “was a good distraction” from the effects of the fire and her loss, she said.

Friday’s Preview Party of the ENGAGE Art Fair delighted guests with a variety of art demonstrations including a body painting artist who painted with henna on the back of a model in front of a giant canvas. Other demonstrations included make-up artists who worked on faces, a marbling paint demonstration and the Baker Sisters painted on canvas.

More demonstrations continued on Saturday during the inaugural Creativity Crawl that led guests through downtown Calistoga to discover artists such as Amy Boulant who painted with acrylic inks on wood in Calistoga Wine Tours and Gift Shop in a rail car at the Calistoga Depot. First she hand-burns an original design on wood – sometimes it is a plank of wood, sometimes it’s a wooden spoon – and then she colors in the design with either acrylic ink or watercolor paints.

Meanwhile, shop owner Karen Fahden chatted and poured wine for guests from her Hahns Fahden winery on Petrified Forest Road. Nearby in the Depot at Picayne Cellars and Mercantile, guests were treated to owner Claire Ducrocq Weinkauf’s newest wine release, an Albarino, while Jennifer Deutsch showed her paintings and a guitarist performed on the patio.

Up and down Lincoln artists showed their work, wineries poured wine and shops welcomed guests. Saturday evening raconteurs took the microphone and regaled the audience with stories and poems at Tank Garage Winery during the Storytelling Speakeasy.

Families were welcomed at the Community Center for Art in Bloom with arts and crafts activities suitable for children of all ages.

Arts in April continues the whole month with each city in Napa County taking turns hosting special arts activities. For more information go to ArtsCouncilNapaValley.org/ArtsInApril.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor