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Artists in Residence: Napa Valley artists find inspiration amid uncertainty
Artists at Home

Artists in Residence: Napa Valley artists find inspiration amid uncertainty

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While much of the world is staying inside their homes to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Napa’s artists are quietly and passionately creating art.

This is the second in a series about what local artists are doing during this unprecedented time and the impact it is having on their lives.

Edmund Ian Grant and Kristi Rene

Edmond Ian Grant had shown his art at the Los Angeles Art Center many times in the past, but he said he couldn’t remember ever seeing such big crowds there as he did in early February. Artists and art lovers from around the world seemed to meld together as they filled the space.

Inside his hotel it was the same way. Elevators were jammed with people, many who had flown in from China, for the art show.

“Now we know the COVID-19 virus was already there at that time,” Grant said.

Although he was invited to attend the “Art of Paper” exhibit at the Walter Wickiser Gallery in New York that was scheduled for March 5 -8, Grant declined. Instead, he sent five of his paintings to the exhibit. Because of Coronavirus, “this popular art show was forced to close its doors before the last day.”

“Art galleries are done for now. It (COVID-19) is like the fire all over again, an extreme loss.”

Grant and his wife Kristi Rene, both internationally collected artists, lost their art gallery home to fire three years ago, barely escaping with their lives as their car raced down an enflamed Soda Canyon Road.

Although Grant and his wife have exhibited their art in galleries throughout the world, most of what they had created over the last 30 years was in their art villa home. Inside, room after room had been filled with their paintings and sculptures where clients came to select art.

“We lost thousands of high retail painting and sculptures,” Grant said.

Since the fire, the couple have been throwing themselves into creating new art and rebuilding their home.

“If COVID-19 hadn’t come along, I think we could have finished the rebuild of our house by the end of June,” Grant said. “Now I don’t know when it will be done.

“We are doing a lot of art on the international front. We still have clients approaching us through email,” Grant said. “We’re working on new paintings as much as we can. Art gives us solace.”

Grant’s work can be seen on his website edmundiangrant.com.

Zaza Fetterly

The measures that have been taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19 have impacted Zaza Fetterly’s life in many ways. The prolific artist who draws every day and carries sketchbooks with her wherever she goes had become accustomed to a quiet life that facilitated her creativity. Suddenly, all the children from her blended family were home from college teleconferencing their college classes.

“It took about 10 days for the whole family to stop getting on each other’s nerves and start playing like a team again,” Fetterly said.

Perhaps the most painful adjustment for Fetterly to make is not visiting her mother who lives in France. Four years ago, when her mother turned 95, Fetterly promised to visit her more, and since then she has made five one-week trips a year to see her mother in Paris.

“I was supposed to visit her this April and she is sad about my absence,” Fetterly said. “I feel bad that I let her down.”

A house, now full of college students, hasn’t kept Fetterly from creative pursuits. She goes to a cabin on three acres that she rents to paint and work on a novel she is writing.

“All my creative juices are more turned on than ever,” she said. “I have a pretty strict schedule of painting and writing.”

Fetterly’s art is taking a new direction, but that “isn’t anything new” for her.

“I tend to go in a new direction in art after each Open Studio. Every September, my walls are covered with my new paintings,” she said. “After the Opens Studio, I take my paintings off the walls, wrap them, put them in the garage and start anew.”

Fetterly does this to avoid having “reference to old paintings” as she always wants to “expect the unexpected” in her artwork.

There is more abstraction in her acrylic paintings than before. Her cityscapes have no one passing by. She added a little figurine of an old woman “walking on the windowsill to animate” one empty cityscape.

“Maybe it was my mother or just a lonely person on her daily walk,” she said about the figure in the painting. “My art reflects what I live, how I see a flower, how much I notice a tree outside my window…as I spend so much more time confined.”

Fetterly’s work can be seen on her website, zazafetterly.com.

Emil Yanos

Like others who are now working at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ceramic artist Emil Yanos has had to make adjustments.

Yanos usually works in a co-op studio that has been closed since March 16.

“I have basically stopped working on my existing projects,” Yanos said. “I work in clay. Although I wrapped my pieces up well the last time I was in the studio, it may be too dry and irreparably damaged by the time the shelter in place is lifted.”

Now, working from home, Yanos is dealing with some seemingly insurmountable obstacles. For example, he creates ceramic sculpture but does not have any clay tools or supplies at his home.

“Luckily, I recently brought home pieces that needed some post-firing work done, such as finishing armatures and cataloging,” Yanos said.

A little over a month into working from home instead of his studio, Yanos said he is “nearly done and will be looking for something new to work on.”

Recently, Yanos said that his art has taken a new direction but “not due to COVID-19.”

“I was already planning to introduce painting techniques to my sculpture,” he said. “This time off hasn’t really given me time to explore this direction on clay because I can’t go the studio. It has given me time to work on painting techniques in general which I can then apply to ceramics at a later time.”

“I would like my art to intrigue the viewer, Yanos said. “Hopefully, to cause the viewer to take a closer look at the world around them and take note of everything nature provides.”

Yanos work can be seen on his website, emilyanosdesign.com.

Rosemarie Kempton is a Napa-based freelance writer. If you have ideas for stories about what artists are doing during the pandemic please email Rosemarie Kempton at jimandrose@kempton.com.

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