The last two weekends in September is a time that art lovers look forward to all year long because it provides an opportunity for them to step into the world of artists from Napa to Calistoga.
The 30th annual Open Studios Napa Valley will showcase the vast and varied talents of 71 Napa Valley artists in 43 creative work spaces.
Open to the public, this event is a free, self-guided, art discovery tour that takes place on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16-17 and 23-24 from 10 a.m.–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 Valley’s finest artists, ask them questions, watch their process and experience them in their studio work environment.
Visitors to Open Studios Napa Valley not only discover multiple art mediums and experience the studio atmosphere, but also discover hidden parts of the Valley and hear stories directly from artists about their work. Open Studios gives visitors the opportunity to purchase artwork straight from the source.
There will be live demonstrations in many of the studios covering a range of media including painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, glass, fiber, printmaking, jewelry design, and sculpture.
All artists, whether they are giving demonstrations or not, are glad to share how and why they do what they do and give you a personal insight into the world of an artist.
This year’s Open Studios’ catalog cover artist is Beverly Wilson. With bold compositions and a personal collection of colors, she expresses the universal rhythms of rural life and her love of the countryside. At her home studio, visitors can witness the vineyards that surround and inspire her.
“I describe myself as a colorist, and my paintings are in a style reminiscent of the California Impressionists,” Wilson said. “My work is created with oil paint on canvas and is inspired by the dramatic changes of the seasons, temperature and light.”
“I keep camera and sketch pad with me at all times and never hesitate to stop off the road or trample through a field to capture the most unique perspective of what has captured my attention,” she said.
Working in her studio adjacent to thriving vineyards, Wilson takes just the basic information from the photos and sketches, not concerning herself with the actual colors or details. On the canvas, the composition is only loosely indicated, which gives her flexibility to add and subtract elements as she wishes. She said that it takes many sessions of layering before a painting emerges.
“I know I am finished with a piece when I sense a rich, luminous quality which brings my vision to life,” Wilson said. “The land itself and man’s place in it are favorite themes and I am especially drawn to the everyday activities of those who work the land.”
Wilson, who has been a participant in Open Studios for nearly two decades, expresses gratitude for the “unique experience” Open Studios gives local artists to meet art appreciators from not only Napa Valley but the Bay Area.
Belinda Leake, the cover artist for last year’s Open Studios directory and map, said she continues to draw inspiration from her life in Napa.
“It has been an inspiring couple of years since I moved from Australia to the U.S,” Leake said. “The directions it has taken my work has been nothing short of amazing and unexpected.”
“I’ve experimented adding red wine to my mixed media techniques, creating images of crushing grapes and encasing them in resin,” Leake said. “I’ve continued to enhance my contemporary style and captured the beautiful trees and bird life found throughout the Napa Valley.”
Whether art lovers seek out the studios of artists concentrating on painting, drawing, ceramics, glass, fiber, printmaking, jewelry design, sculpture, or photography, they will find artists who are glad to share how and why they do what they do.
“Open Studios Napa Valley is such a great event,” said photographer Debbie Ames. “I love talking to all the visitors who drop by my studio and enjoy talking to them about their impression of my work, telling them the story behind my images and what got me to this place in my artistic adventure, sharing tips and learning from my guests as well.
In addition to being able to see artists at work in their studios, art lovers can also go to Jessel Gallery, 1019 Atlas Peak Road, where one piece of art from every artist participating in Open Studios is on exhibit through September.