With the 32nd annual Open Studios Napa Valley just weeks away, 54 artists throughout Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga are busy preparing their artwork as well as their studios for the event.

Each year, the free, self-guided art discovery tour takes place during the last two weekends in September giving the public a chance to meet artists in their workspaces. This year, 35 studio locations will be open Sept. 21-22 and Sept. 28-29.

All the artists are happy to share how and why they do what they do and give visitors personal insight into the world of the artist. In some studios, the artists will be giving demonstrations including painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, glass, fiber, printmaking, jewelry design and sculpture.

To kick off this year’s Open Studios Napa Valley, Jessel Gallery, 1019 Atlas Peak Road, is hosting a preview party and show Friday, Sept. 6, from 5-8 p.m. The public is invited to meet the artists and see their work. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

“The preview party is the perfect opportunity to experience all the Open Studios artists in one room and to see a representation of their work,” said gallery owner Jessel Miller.

An original piece of art from each participating artist will be on display at the gallery during September.

Having one piece of art from each artist in one location gives art lovers a chance to make an informed decision about which studios they will visit during the two Open Studios weekends.

“I love having the opportunity to see the work of my colleagues all together. It’s so wonderful to see what everyone is doing,” said Karen Lynn Ingalls, whose painting “Vineyard by the Pond” was selected for the cover of the 2019 Open Studios Napa Valley artists directory and map.

Like other artists who participate in the annual event during the last two weekends in September, Ingalls missed out on the seeing the work of her fellow artists until the gallery began hosting a preview exhibit for Open Studios Napa Valley a few years ago.

With work still coming in from the artists, Miller walked around the room, surveying the still unhung paintings, propped against the walls and explained that “most of the art” had arrived and that she was waiting until everything was in to hang the art.

“I’m very impressed with the work the artists have brought in this year. It is high quality and exciting,” Miller said. “Each artist brought two pieces so I could choose one for the gallery. Both were so good I really wanted to choose both pieces.”

“This is wonderful,” Miller said, pointing to the fiber art of weavers Sharon Crary and Barbara Stafford.

An oil painting by Kristine Pallas and an abstract painting by Dianne Neuman received praise from Miller.

“I love this painting by Michael Fitzpatrick,” Miller said pointing out a painting of a young woman with angel wings holding a can of paint.

Fitzpatrick, known for his paintings of fashionable women, has recently been taking a new direction in his art by painting cityscapes.

Beverly Wilson is another artist who has also taken a new direction in her paintings. Wilson, known for her bucolic landscapes scenes that often honor those who labor in the vineyards, has been painting local iconic buildings.

A number of artists who have never participated in the juried Open Studios event before are bringing “freshness and variety” to the show.

“Overall, the energy in this exhibit is very quiet and serene – as though the artists have rested – nothing is jarring, it feels as though everyone is in a more peaceful place now,” Miller said. “The fires are behind us. There’s a calm now.”

An Open Studios Napa Valley 2019 artist directory and map indicates which artists will be giving demonstrations and whether a studio is handicapped accessible and open if raining.

These directories and maps will be available at the Jessel Gallery preview and select locations. They will also be available at studio locations during Open Studios. The directory maps can be downloaded at openstudionapavalley.com.

The popular event is a collaborative effort by the participating artists of Art Association Napa Valley.

The Art Association Napa Valley is a private, nonprofit arts organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the Napa Valley by supporting the arts and culture throughout the county. The program has endured for over three decades because local artists believe in the importance and value of opening their studios to visitors.

Volunteers have contributed hundreds of hours and sponsors have contributed financial support to ensure Open Studios Napa Valley continues to be an important event.

In gratitude for the support they receive from the community, the art association contributes a portion of revenues to local high school and junior college scholarships.

For more information about the Open Studios Napa Valley preview exhibit call Jessel Gallery at 707-257-2350.

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