A tradition of adding a heartfelt and handmade touch to the holidays continues this year with the Holiday Extravaganza art show at Jessel Gallery located on Atlas Peak Road. A three-day opening reception begins on Friday, Nov. 17, from 5-8 p.m.
The show and sale runs through Dec. 31.
For the past 33 years, Jessel Miller, a Napa Valley artist, gallery owner and arts advocate, has created holiday shows in December; four years ago, her gallery became the site for the Holiday Extravaganza, which had been produced for many years by local artist Sue Payne at the Napa Valley Expo. Payne has continued to participate in the showcase for local artists after its move to the Jessel Gallery.
A Canada native, Miller landed in the Napa Valley in the early 1980s after living in Florida, studying art abroad in Europe and living in the Bay Area. She was a featured artist at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with her solo show of watercolor portraits of locally famous individuals such as Herb Caen, Dianne Feinstein and Maya Angelou.
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This year, the show may be more important than ever, Miller said. Her gallery is located in the historic 100-year-old former Hedgeside Whisky distillery near the lower edge of the devastating Atlas Peak fire. Several clients and wine country artists lost their works of art, and in some cases entire collections, other than pieces on display at Jessel Gallery.
“This event takes place around the holiday season to honor the artists that create handmade crafts,” Miller said. “It began as a very small show with a few artists. When the vision grew, with this version we joined hands and hearts, and a lot of the artists are now with me displaying here throughout the year.”
“The Jessel Gallery Holiday Extravaganza is jam-packed with amazingly beautiful and precious gifts for the holidays and beyond,” Miller said. “The back showroom features one-of-a-kind treasures. All of the other rooms showcase artists with bountiful offerings. A perfect alternative to the hustle and bustle of the usual shopping experience.”
She makes an effort to provide works of art at all prices, and gift wrapping at the gallery is free. Miller said she has worked to keep gift prices more modest, especially because there are people that have lost everything. “We have a wide variety of gifts, we are trying to cover all of the bases.”
The art in the word ‘heart’ is the mission and motto of the show as well as a new movement to support artists who have suffered recent fire losses. “Our motto is ‘By Hand, By HeART’ with a capital A R T,” Jessel said, adding that the gallery is planning a separate post-holiday fundraiser for impacted artists early next year.
A visit to Jessel Gallery is unlike a typical gallery experience. The former distillery provides several different rooms, and Miller has ensured that visitors will feel at home in seating areas with comfortable sofas and living room chairs, as well as a bar that will be stocked with Miller’s own secret-recipe, homemade, gluten-free oatmeal, chocolate chip pecan cookies and hot cider that will be served daily throughout the holiday season.
“Rather than simply walking through a space, here it is about sitting,” said Miller, who added that she wrote “The Slow Down Book.”
Miller has created a space that encourages visitors to come in, explore, spend some time and sit with the art. White walls, and high ceilings, strategically lit to highlight works of art that accentuate each space with contrasting colors, lead from one room to the next filled with items that range from majestic to whimsical.
The gifts of art available for purchase include limited-production and handmade works such as paintings, giclée prints, beaded baskets, jewelry, ornaments, ice-dyed apparel, scarves, pottery, glass works, journals, books, cards, wooden boxes and woven wall hangings.
Throughout the year, the gallery has become a destination for both artists and lovers of art. For several days during the North Bay firestorms, Miller had been evacuated and did not know if the gallery had survived. Once the flames were contained and evacuation orders lifted, she returned and without sending an invitation the gallery immediately became a pop-up gathering place for people to come together, share their stories and begin to heal, she said.
“With what we’ve just been through in the valley, it’s important,” Miller said, “People are gathering, they bring wine and they bring food.”
Weekly art demonstrations every Saturday in December will also provide a live component to the holidays at Jessel Gallery. In addition to Miller’s own art on display, artists participating in the holiday show include Kate Canon, Sharon Crary, Ed Edward, Marcia Garcia, Karen Lynn Ingalls, Lisa Lee, Dena Lyons, Jeanette Monterio, Daniel Mundy, Sue Payne, Diane Pope, Marilyn Smith, Marjorie Smith, Leo Tripp, Joan Tsudama, Patti Wessman, Joy West and Emil Yamos.
For specific artist demonstration dates and times, visit JesselGallery.com.
The gallery is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Miller said that she has intentionally worked to create that welcoming essence at Jessel Gallery, so that people feel that they are part of the family.
“When you enter my gallery, you enter my heart and my home,” she said.