From Aug. 30 through Oct. 28 in the Main Gallery, Napa Valley Museum Yountville will present California Dreamin’, paintings by Melissa Chandon and Matt Rogers.
The opening celebration is 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at the museum, 55 Presidents Circle in Yountville. It is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. It is free to members, and $20 for non-members.
The exhibit embodies the idyllic “California Dream” of freedom, vitality, peace, love and connections. Paintings of palm trees, lifeguard stations, and woody-style station wagons carrying surfboards set against expansive blue skies capture the indelible collective memory of the relaxed, carefree beach lifestyle that took hold of imaginations around the world in the 1960s.
With their vivid dream-like palettes and sense of light and air, Chandon and Rogers have each earned reputations for depicting the essential character of the Golden Coast. This exhibition also includes a 1939 Packard and a 1948 Buick, both woodies, surfboards and other elements of surf culture.
With animated, Pop-inspired colors and pared-down compositions, Melissa Chandon’s paintings push everyday scenes toward the brink of imaginative, dynamic abstraction. In her vibrant, graphic world infused with California light, landscape breaks down into basic elements — what she calls “core essence” —while shadows and reflections take on a life of their own. Chandon’s lifelong fascination with the American vernacular continues: “I am still captivated by the ideal of the holiday or vacation,” she notes. “Or perhaps it’s just simple pleasures that I relish. The simple row boat, the backyard pool, the tailfin of a highly designed car from my parents’ generation.”
In her paintings, as in the objects and scenes that inspire her work, color, form, and design fuse into images that have the air of vividly remembered places.
Matt Rogers’ landscapes are fantastical confections whose cotton candy trees and vertiginous depths take us far from realism. Having lived in California his entire life, he is aware of its precariousness, that it represents the California dream — sunsets and palm trees — but also devastation. The California landscape is subject to earthquakes, fires and mudslides, which Rogers has experienced firsthand.
Utopia coexists with dystopia, and beach culture rubs shoulders with counterculture — a paradox that infuses many of Rogers’ paintings. In his work, we can sense his deep understanding of California’s complicated, dark, bright beauty. Matt Rogers and Melissa Chandon are represented by Caldwell Snyder Gallery.
Continuing the theme is surfboard artist Tim Bessell, whose work is in the Spotlight Gallery.
Bessell, a La Jolla-based contemporary California artist, is known for the distinctive handmade surfboards he’s created throughout his career, having shaped more than 46,000 over the course of his lifetime. Bessell’s Artist Series surfboards pay homage to famous artists who have inspired him, including iconic pop artist Andy Warhol.
Released in very limited editions, these handmade works, created in collaboration with the Warhol Foundation, take Warhol’s graphics and combine them with Bessell’s most popular surfboard shapes. Surfboards for sale during the exhibit will benefit the Museum’s arts and education programs.
Museum admission is $10 adult; $5 seniors (65 and older) and children younger than 16; admission is free for Museum members, residents of the California Veterans Home and Active Duty Military.