After extensive renovations, Dr. Wilkinson’s Resort is expected to re-open next month with a fresh new look, including a mural on the façade of the building that faces Fair Way across from Cal Mart’s parking lot.
The question is what that mural will look like.
The resort proposed an 80-90-foot mural with a mid-century motif including a winding river, palm trees, a geyser, and a silhouette of a woman making a wish by blowing on a dandelion, which ends in a wishing well around the corner on Lincoln Avenue.
The mural as presented depicts a sense of hope and vision for a positive future, said Will Callnan, the local artist commissioned for the project.
On Wednesday, members of the Calistoga Planning Commission were generally supportive of the project, but questioned the subject matter and the relative vagueness of the proposal.
Commissioners pointed out that a mural of grapevines or vineyards might be more in keeping with the town’s history and character. Chair Paul Coates summed up the mural’s theme by saying, “It’s not quite in keeping with who we are.”
Callnan and his wife, Nikki, live in Angwin where they operate as NBC Pottery, and are familiar to the Calistoga community, teaching at the Calistoga Art Center, and displaying their works at events like the Engage Art Fair.
“Art is an important part of our project here,” said Maki Nakamura Bara, president of Chartres Lodging Group, which owns the resort. “We wanted to create a sense of interest and intrigue and beautify the beautiful town and connect the resort with the community, and commission an artist connected to the community.”
Callnan and Bara presented the commission with a rendering of the mural, but also said details of the project would be changing. That left most commissioners uncomfortable granting approval.
“Unless we can see exactly what is going to be painted there, I cannot support the mural,” said Vice-Chair Tim Wilkes. He also commented on the subject matter saying, “Monarch butterflies aren’t centerpiece of Napa Valley but agriculture and vineyards are.”
That said, commissioners also expressed support for the project in general.
“Normally drafts make us uncomfortable, but I am comfortable with the quality of your work and am excited about another mural in town,” said Commissioner Alissa McNair.
The applicants were asked to refine the project and bring it back for further review.
ARCO More for Less
The Planning Commission on Wednesday also took issue with a proposal by the ARCO gas station at the corner of Petrified Forest Road and Foothill Boulevard to add a new canopy and lighting.
The new canopy as presented would prominently feature the ARCO name and logo and a blue LED “laser line/lightbar” that wraps around three sides of the canopy.
Planning Director Zac Tusinger noted a similar request from ARCO was denied in 2012, as the lighting was not in keeping with the city’s dark sky policies as outlined in the general plan.
Also at issue is the station’s location, at a prominent corner serving as a gateway to the community. The lighting at the station has also historically been an issue with neighbors.
Tusinger said the city had received emails from nearby residents concerned about the new lighting.
Commissioner Scott Cooper asked how the light bar would benefit the community, though representatives for the company were not present at the meeting.
Commissioners also noted there were other issues that needed to be addressed at the station, such as fixing the gas pumps. The lighting could be presented to the commission in the future as part of a larger package to upgrade the station.
“The only reason is for the lighting is branding,” said Commissioner McNair, and if it was part of a bigger overall refreshing of the property that would be different.
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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or email@example.com.
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