It was not what you might think. No, those children in Lyman Park with those enormous cans of spray paint weren’t out to create mischief.
They were budding artists celebrating “Street Art” Saturday as part of the “Arts In April” celebration in Lyman Park produced by Arts Council Napa Valley. This is the seventh Arts in April event, showcasing more than 40 arts and culture events throughout Napa County
But this was the first series of “central city events” that the Arts Council has produced. Independent artists are converging on parks and recreational spots in St. Helena, Calistoga, Yountville, Napa and American Canyon. Their “mission” is to create art and interact with people in each spot.
In one area kids were creating brightly colored tiles of wood with pastels. In another, Vincent Serrano Pagonucci was recreating a street scene of the Clarion Alley in San Francisco on two large sheets of plywood. And then there were the brightly colored cutouts and hanging sheets of corrugated roofing, covered with paint and enticing passersby to contribute a few squirts and sprays.
The idea, according to Olivia Everett, president and CEO of Arts Council Napa Valley, was to bring art to where people congregate, to engage them in the processes of making art, and have an opportunity to talk and interact with real artists. The watch-word is “access,” and the motivation is to enable everyone to have that access to the art and artists of the valley.
Everett, standing behind a folding table at the entrance to the park, talked about the need to create access to art in the Napa Valley as she directed people to visit each area.
“I grew up in Napa,” she said. “And when I returned from art school I realized that for many people there is no awareness of local artists working in the community. And for them, the valley is sort of an artistic desert. And I wanted to help change that.”
The artistic “access point,” according to Everett, might be through one of the many art groups that were represented and which co-sponsored the event. This included Nimbus Arts, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Napa Music Collective, Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and others. Included in the sponsorship were the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce, the Doctors Company, and the City of St. Helena (which gave access to Lyman Park to hold the event).
For Lucy McConnell of Angwin, finding “access” meant grabbing a can of spray paint and working on a hanging cutout of an angel. The angel was strewn with a rainbow of bright vibrant colors. But McConnell had embraced her mission and knew what she was going to do.
Wearing a gauze mask against the paint fumes, she chose a can of blue spray paint from a table, and very carefully laid a stencil over the cutout. Then with an amazing meticulousness, she sprayed the blue paint onto the rosette stencil. When she it pulled off the angel she was understandably excited at what she’d created.
“Look, Mommy!” she said. “Did you see what I made?”
“Beautiful!” said her mother, Claire McConnell.
Then it was off to another cutout, spray can in hand. It was exactly how angels and art seemed to be made.