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'California Dreamin' at the Napa Valley Museum

'California Dreamin' at the Napa Valley Museum

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“California Dreamin’” — surfboards, sun, sky and sand — is the subject of a new show of works by Melissa Chandon and Matt Rogers at the Napa Valley Museum.

It runs Aug. 30 through Oct. 28 in the museum’s Main Gallery.

The opening celebration, 5 to 7:30 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 1, is free to members, and $20 for non-members.

The exhibit embodies the “California Dream” that inspired musicians from the Beach Boys to the Mamas and Papas, who invoked idyllic life of freedom, vitality, peace, love and connections.

Melissa Chandon’s and Matt Rogers’ paintings of palm trees, lifeguard stations, and woody-style station wagons carrying surfboards set against expansive blue skies also invoke the collective memory of the relaxed, care-free 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, 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 said. “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.”

Rogers’ landscapes are fantastical confections whose cotton candy trees and vertiginous depths travel far from realism. Having lived in California his entire life, he is aware of its precariousness: the California dream of sunsets and palm trees brings with it 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. His work’s convey California’s complicated, dark, bright, beauty.

Rogers and Chandon are represented by Caldwell Snyder Gallery.

Surfboard art

Continuing the “Dreamin’” theme is surfboard artist Tim Bessell, whose work is in the Spotlight Gallery.

Bessell, a La Jolla-based contemporary California artist, is known for having created more than 46,000 distinctive handmade surfboards throughout his career.

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 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.

Tickets to the Sept. 1 opening celebrations are available through the museum’s website. For more information, call 707-944-0500, email, or visit the website at

The Napa Valley Museum, at 55 Presidents Circle in Yountville, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Wednesdays through Sundays.

Museum admission is $10 for adults; $5 for 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.

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