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Arts in April, the month-long series of creative events that celebrate the arts in the Napa Valley, kicks into full gear this weekend with the fourth annual Engage Art Fair in Calistoga. It begins with a preview party to celebrate the opening of the weekend event on Friday night at the Napa County Fairgrounds.

While the fairgrounds may sound like an unusual space for an upscale visual art event, the Tubbs Building on the grounds has been transformed over the past several weeks into an 11,000 square-foot interactive art gallery that will showcase dozens of established, as well as emerging, professional artists from throughout the Bay Area.

Produced by Celebrate! Napa Valley, the line-up of artists this year who have collaborated on the event will include The Baker Sisters, Simone McManus, Edmund Ian Grant, Thomas Haddy, Jennifer LaPierre, Jane Bowyer, Adriana Camacho, Hugo Corro, Ana Victorson, Deirdre Shibano, Deborah Hutcheson, Sean Ramm, Dani Arrecis, Shelly Hanan, Jermaine Burse, Nate Geare, Alexia Viola, James Englehardt, Colleen Blinoff, Sonia Lub, Will and Nikki Callnan, Teri Sandison, Debbie Ames and Scout Mandolin.

Ceramics, mixed media, painting, jewelry design, fiber, woodwork and photography are some of the mediums that will be shown and demonstrated.

For much of the year, the Tubbs Building is a massive, empty space with an industrial tone. For Engage, Designer in Residence Richard Von Saal, known for use of texture and innovative transformation of ordinary spaces, has created a pop-up gallery in a museum of modern art style. A series of gallery walls and professional lights have been installed, so that attendees can meander through the display.

“There is a flow to it when you enter the building,” said Christy Gentry of Engage. “This year, the event tagline is ‘Check your reality at the door,’ which is conveyed through the décor.” Organizers encourage guests to alter their reality and be open to the messages that the artists are delivering.

While the industrial look of the Tubbs Building space works to the advantage of this event, Gentry said that the challenge for Von Saal in designing the space was to showcase the diversity of each artist, while creating continuity for the attendee. As guests move through the gallery, there is a beginning and end, and intentional flow of the space.

“Richard has a very edgy style, he is all about texture. He combines materials including wood, steel, glass, fur and metals,” said Gentry, who explained that Von Saal has enriched the environment with texture, and some surprises such as mirrors.”

At the ticketed Friday night Engage Preview Party planned by David Aten Events, guests are asked to wear white to blend in with the canvases so that the art takes center stage. The Engage Art Fair is free to attendees on Saturday and Sunday. Over the weekend, the space will feel different with natural light. Throughout the event, artists will be creating and demonstrating on site so that attendees really can Engage and experience the creative process.

“Engage creates a really different environment where you can touch the art, feel it, and get close to it,” Gentry said. “It is truly an engaging of the senses. Engage your mind, your senses, but also Engage with the artists.”

Engage Art Fair Preview Party and Engage Art Fair is at the Tubbs Building on the Napa County Fairgrounds located at 1435 N. Oak St. in Calistoga. The Engage Art Fair Preview Party will take place on Friday, April 6 from 6-9 p.m. and tickets are $80 per person. All white attire encouraged and the party includes gallery entry, live music, wine, cocktails, craft beers and small bites. The Engage Art Fair is set for Saturday, April 7, and Sunday, April 8, from noon to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is free and includes gallery entry, live music and art demonstrations. For more information visit CelebrateNapaValley.org/Engage.

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