Dubbed “Sarafornia: The Arts of Calistoga,” Calistoga’s four-day weekend kick-off to the countywide month-long Arts in April celebration was a feast for the senses.
During a proclamation declaring April as “Arts in April Month” at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Chris Canning said, “You did Calistoga well. You did Calistoga proud. It was outstanding,” referring to Calistoga’s feature portion of the month-long event that took place last weekend.
Expertly and creatively designed floral arrangements tickled olfactory senses with aromas of carnation, rose, iris, hydrangea, lily, almost a flower shop that filled the barn at T-Vine Winery from March 30 to April 2 where the inaugural “Flower Bomb” show displayed art both by local artists and well-known public domain art that was used as inspiration for the floral designs.
Tenae Stewart, events and membership coordinator for the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce, called on her arts history background and worked with colleague and friend Danielle Smith, producer of Arts in April, to develop the free “Flower Bomb” show, which is based on the Bouquets to Art program at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
A call went out to local artists to submit paintings for the show that floral designers would study and draw inspiration from to create a floral arrangement that would be their “response” to the art.
From the public domain, Stewart selected other works of art that had a composition she believed would be easy to work with for a floral designer. She has a personal connection to floral design through her mother, Tina Chiotti-Stewart of Calistoga in Bloom, who designed an arrangement filled with monochromatic orange-colored blossoms that beautifully complemented Sir Fredrick Leighton’s 1895 “Flaming June.”
In another example, Tenae Stewart chose Aaron Douglas’s 1936 painting “Aspiration” that Calistoga floral designer Erica Grube of EV Floral used as her inspiration to create an arrangement with gradations of violet, purple, lavender, pink and burgundy colors that evoke the same light and shadows as the famous painting.
Barbara Frohlech, a student in Santa Rosa Junior College’s floral design program, created her own piece of art with her response to Calistoga artist Karen Lynn Ingalls’s “Big Red Heart” when Frohlech built a structure to represent the “mandap,” a canopy-like structure used in Hindu wedding ceremonies.
Ingalls said she was thrilled with Frohlech’s “gorgeous, thoughtful and creative response” to her painting.
“She took it to a whole new level,” Ingalls said. “My colors reminded her of an Indian wedding. I loved her piece’s colors, its creativity, its sacredness — it almost felt like an altar. And it was definitely all about love.”
Brightly colored carnations, mums and other flowers created an almost curtain-like backdrop and canopy above an elephant snow globe in the center. Elephants are part of almost every Hindu wedding, Frohlech said, and she wanted to be sure to include an elephant in her design. Small incense cups placed at the corners of the frame held flower petals representing incense that would burn during a wedding.
Metallic elements such as the wire used to hold the flowers that draped off the frame and a bowl at the base that held more flowers picked up the silvery edge that surrounded the big red heart in Ingalls’ painting, noted Carlene Moore, CEO of the Napa County Fairgrounds and a member of Arts Council Napa Valley.
The “Flower Bomb” was an event best experienced in person, Moore said, because all the elements – the paintings, floral displays, aromas of the flowers, food, wine and people – were all under one roof, and photos and descriptions of such an event just can’t do justice to it.
That was Thursday night. Friday night was all about the “ENGAGE Preview Party: Let the Party Pop!” avant garde affair at the Fairgrounds.
The utilitarian Tubbs Building was transformed into an art gallery where on Friday night guests were encouraged to dress in white to become part of the canvas. A variety of passed hors d’oeuvres created by Solbar and its new Executive Chef Massimo Falsini were served along with a Napa Valley selection of wines offered by such wineries as Jessup Cellars, Haute Couture French Bubbles, and Define rose, among others, as artists demonstrated their work.
Ingalls interacted with visitors throughout the weekend as did a number of other artists, including Vincent Thomas Connors and Daniel Hua, who paused their work to answer questions about such things as their style, influences or techniques.
Connors had prints of work that demonstrated his evolution from landscape to linear, and share the story of how his path led from painting rolling hills to the lines of vineyards.
The free art gallery included paintings, jewelry, sculpture, live music and more.
Arts in April continues throughout the month with more free art shows and other events. Visit ArtsCouncilNapaValley.org for a full list.