Some of the new sculptures in downtown’s Napa ARTwalk series are easy to spot. A turtle sunbathes on Main Street near Napa Creek. A bull stands solemnly, staring West on First Street. A hummingbird stretches its wings at the corner of Main and Third streets. Others are hidden gems, tucked into corners of downtown Napa that require a little investigation, but are worth the journey.
“I noticed the new sculptures right away,” said Napa resident Katie Pratt. “I’ve lived here for five years, so this is the second time I’ve seen the ARTwalk evolve, and I love what I see. These sculptures are such a wonderful addition to the downtown area.”
Pratt joined dozens of art appreciators as they strolled the streets of downtown Napa Thursday evening during the community kickoff for the latest incarnation of the Napa ARTwalk, which has been a special feature to downtown Napa since 2010.
Fourteen sculptures by 15 artists line First Street from City Hall to the Oxbow Market and Main Street from Pearl Street to the historic Napa Mill at the end of Fifth Street. This year’s Napa ARTwalk is distinct because there is no central theme among the displayed sculptures.
Firebird, a burning red fiberglass installation by Oleg Lobykin of East Palo Alto, rises like a dancing flame from its cement base outside City Hall, while Aurora III by Catherine Daley of Windsor twinkles in the sunlight, capturing colors to mimic the Aurora Borealis just outside of the Napa General Store.
Daley’s creation is made of aluminum, powder-coated steel and Plexiglas rods that act as wind chimes when the wind blows through its sparkling tendrils.
The most animated sculpture of the new series is the handiwork of David Boyer from Reno, Nevada. Boyer has been designing kinetic sculptures for more than 10 years. His contribution to the Napa ARTwalk, Getting Your Bearings, debuted last year at Burning Man. For the next two years, it will rest along the Riverwalk behind the Napa River Inn.
“I like to create rusty-looking pieces that look like they emerged straight from the earth,” Boyer said. “I like that rustic aesthetic since I’m from Nevada, but I think this piece fits well in downtown Napa. It looks really cool against the backdrop of the old mill. It almost looks like an antique, yet modern, mining artifact.”
Boyer joined guests on the Napa ARTwalk Thursday admiring the work of his fellow artists. After the walk, the Arts Council of Napa Valley and city of Napa hosted a reception at Napa Riverbend Plaza behind Napa River Inn, where Boyer’s Getting Your Bearings became a focal point of conversation while guests enjoyed light refreshments.
Peter Hazel lives in Kings Beach, California Lake near Tahoe, but he comes to Napa often to visit family. During a visit a few years ago, he toured the Napa ARTwalk and decided he would submit an entry when the next call to artists was announced. Hazel’s Wave Bench was selected from a pool of more than 150 submissions.
“It’s such an honor to be one of the chosen artists,” Hazel said at the artists’ reception. “I’ve had Wave Bench in my shop for a few years. I wasn’t sure where it belonged, but I’m so glad it was chosen to be in Napa. I didn’t realize so many artists submitted their work for consideration. It is very special to be a part of this group.”
Hazel, who has sculptures on display in Yountville, said Wave Bench is special to him because it was created with recycled materials. He spent several weeks visiting thrift stores collecting blue plates and cups. After hand-cutting the ceramic into tiles, he arranged and bonded the tiles to create something he describes as beautiful and functional.
Unlike most sculptures on the ARTwalk, which have prominently displayed “Do not climb on the art” signs, Wave Bench is a piece that passersby are encouraged to interact with, touch and even sit on. Hazel said the sculpture seats up to four adults.
Pratt tested Wave Bench and gave it her seal of approval. “I enjoyed the Wave Bench. It’s not your standard bench, where you just sit. You’re absorbed into it, much like you are absorbed into a wave. As an ocean person, I absolutely love it.”
Lt. Mustardseed, an artist based in Los Angeles, also found inspiration for her Napa ARTwalk selection in recycled materials. Timeless Joy features a repurposed Harley Davidson tank as the body of a hummingbird.
“I like to recycle everyday objects and transform them into something new,” said Lt. Mustardseed, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. “I pick things that speak to me, and that Harley tank came from an old police Harley. When I saw it, I knew I could turn it into something fun and colorful. This piece took me about three months to complete. I was in tune with it. But sometimes projects take longer when you’re not in the flow. I have some half-finished pieces in my shop that have been hanging out for two years or more. But for Timeless Joy, I had the vision of the hummingbird and it all came together.”
In addition to traveling the Napa ARTwalk, visitors are encouraged to share photos of the artwork on Instagram using the hashtag NapaArtWalk. Visitors may also download an audio tour of the Napa ARTWalk using the Otocast app, which is available on both iPhone and Android systems.
A map of the Napa ARTwalk is available online at napaartwalk.org.