After being canceled last year because of the pandemic, Open Studios Napa Valley is returning. Local artists will again be opening their studios in this collaborative effort of Art Association Napa Valley (AANV) artists.
Fifty-six artists in 36 studio locations from Napa to Calistoga will showcase what they’ve been creating in this free, self-guided art discovery tour that takes place the last two weekends of September. It runs from Sept. 18-19 and Sept. 25-26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Whether you are an art collector, an art lover, or just curious about how various kinds of artworks are created, this is your once-a-year opportunity to meet Napa’s artists, ask questions and watch their process in their studio environment.
At the studios, visitors not only discover multiple mediums and experience the studio atmosphere, but also discover hidden parts of the valley and hear stories directly from artists and have the opportunity of purchasing artwork straight from the source.
There will be live demonstrations in some of the studios covering a range of media including painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, glass, fiber, jewelry design, printmaking, sculpture, furniture, wood and mixed media.
To get started touring studios, a 2021 Open Studios Napa Valley artist directory and map catalog are invaluable.
This guide allows you to see which artists are giving demonstrations as well as if the studio is handicapped accessible, open if raining, and if open both weekends. They can be obtained at Cartons and Crates, Jessel Gallery, Color Theory, or Mechanics Bank as well as some of the hotels.
In addition, there is an online catalog, openstudiosnapavalley.com
During September, at least one creation by each of the Open Studios artists is presented at Jessel Gallery, giving an overview of what visitors can find at individual studios.
Five of the artists participating in this year’s open studios will have their art on display in pop-up tents in the parking lot of Jessel Gallery during both weekends.
You might decide to begin your art discovery tour along the Napa River at the studio of Michael Fitzpatrick, the artist whose oil painting was chosen for the cover of this year’s Open Studios directory. Fitzpatrick and two of his art students, Rosie Penning and Kent Franklin, will be showing their art at 68 Combs St., Studio D-9 in Napa.
“Art is my life,” Fitzpatrick said. “It is what I’ve done for 50 years since my first art job at an art agency when I was 17.”
After serving as an art director at an advertising agency in New York for many years, Fitzpatrick moved to California and ran his own ad agency but broke away from the 9-5 routine in the mid-1990s to pursue his love of painting full-time.
Fitzpatrick has been painting every day for the last 30 years and has many collectors around the world. He paints in oil in a traditional style that allows him to fully utilize his classical training. Though best known for his figurative paintings, he also does some still life and landscapes.
Besides painting, he finds great satisfaction in helping his students reach a level of painting that brings them joy.
“Painting is so much fun – especially when you know you’re on the right track,” he said. “In the beginning art is a real struggle for many people. I try to quickly get students into the tricks of the trade early on so they can enjoy what they are doing.”
Both Penning and Franklin have been selling their oil paintings since they began taking art lessons from Fitzpatrick.
“Michael is a great artist, mentor and teacher,” Franklin said. “When I met him, I told him I need to learn how to draw. He said, 'I’ll teach you.'”
Franklin now has his own art studio in his home and is thrilled that his paintings are selling.
“Art to me is freedom and expression,” Franklin said. “The freedom is you are free to paint whatever you like.”
Rosie Penning’s oil paintings convey her love of animals, children and nature.
Penning, a mother of two young children, started out painting portraits of children and soon got into painting people’s pets and wild animals.
“The thing I love most about painting is it is an expression of the soul. It connects me to the essence of the being – a soul-to-soul thing,” Penning said. “Something will grab me, and I feel compelled to paint it.”
Though the majority of studios will be in Napa this year, it is worth a drive St. Helena to visit studios there.
Ann Garden will be exhibiting work she has been doing over the last eight years – an environmental series, mixed media and impressionistic landscapes at the Barker Barn, 2727 Sulphur Springs Ave. St. Helena over the first weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nearby, at the White Barn, the exhibit, “Her Story in America” can be seen Sept. 18-19 from noon to 3 p.m. Visit herstoryinamerica.org for more information
Her Story in America will be at the Marin County Civic Center in October.
Follow the signs on Sulphur Springs Ave. to see both shows.
Ceramic artist Akemi Adams and painter and weaver Therese Legere will be sharing a studio at 1652 Voorhees Circle in St. Helena.
“This is the 33rd year of Open Studios,” Frank Trozzo said. “People all over the valley look forward to this event.”
“Our mission (AANV) is to support local arts and artists,” Trozzo said. “Scholarships for students pursuing art careers are part of that mission. It has been a difficult couple of years due to the pandemic, but we hope to give out some scholarships for 2022.
Things are increasingly looking up. We are a nonprofit organization and any profits we make during the course of the year are given as scholarships.”
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