Dispensing a rainbow of colors in short hissing-like bursts from spray paint cans, an Argentinian-Spanish artist is busy transforming a plain brick wall in Napa into a geometric work of art.
The artist, Felipe Pantone, traveled to Napa from Spain to create a new mural alongside the Wine Train railroad tracks.
The art is part of a plan to create a Rail Arts District along the Vine Trail, where it parallels Napa Valley Wine Train tracks in central Napa. The Vine Trail Coalition and Wine Train are the private entities funding mural creation and maintenance.
Wearing a black T-shirt and black pants on his first day of work, Pantone used blue masking tape to create sections of squares and rectangles along the side of the cement block building at 1551 Soscol Ave., home to Matthews Mattress.
Pantone has named his geometric graphic pattern “Chromadynamica for Napa.”
The pattern forms a wave shape, he noted during an interview. “The design emphasizes the horizontal aspect of the wall.”
The shape of the wall is a benefit, said the artist. “I like the fact that it’s a landscape format because when the train goes by you have a long ‘reading’” of the mural.
In other words, those on the train will be able to view it as they trundle past, unlike say, a tall vertical mural.
The mural is painted primarily using spray paint from the Montana Cans brand, which sponsors the artist. He’ll use some 300 cans of the paint, which is shipped to him wherever he works.
Pantone, 30, said he’s done more than 200 murals during his professional career as an artist, but many more before that.
“I’ve been painting most of my life,” he said.
He’s created work on five continents and in dozens of countries – so many he can’t keep track.
“I travel almost full time,” he said. The artist returns to his studio in Valencia, Spain about once every month or two.
When asked about the largest mural he’s ever completed, Pantone said it was one of his most recent. Created on the side of a building in Portugal, his mural stretches some 17 stories tall. A team of artists helped him finish the work in just four days.
In Napa, he plans to work 10 or more hours a day and complete his Rail Arts District mural before this weekend.
Painting in spray paint colors with names like Clockwork Orange, Purple Rain and Code Red, he followed the grid lines of the block building to keep his lines straight. The enamel spray paint dried in seconds, which allowed him to add new taped guidelines quickly.
You have free articles remaining.
Pantone also wore a respirator mask. Anyone who is using spray paint should wear a mask, especially young artists, he said. The paint has bad solvents and fumes, he noted.
Andrew Hosner, curator and co-owner of Thinkspace gallery in Culver City, helped bring Pantone to the project.
He’s the curator of the murals for the Rail Arts District. Ultimately, the “district” will consist of more than 30 murals along the train tracks, said Hosner.
A large mural of a young woman on a dark background looking at pink butterflies, by artists from Poland, one named Natalia Rak and one who goes by the name Bezt, was the first RAD mural. It can be seen on the back of the Napa Valley Register building at 1615 Soscol Ave.
So far, the RAD mural project has been going well, said Hosner. Plans for a third mural are underway. “It’s exciting to be a part of it,” even while painting that first mural amidst a rainstorm, said Hosner.
The curator said he hopes to have six or seven murals completed in 2017 and six to eight each year after that. It’s a five- to six-year project, he said.
In the coming years, “people will know” of the RAD district and the art. “It’s a matter of time,” he said.
Ultimately, he believes the murals won’t be contained to only the railroad track area. “It will grow organically,” Hosner predicted.
Muralism is an international phenomenon, he said. The muralists themselves “are the new rock stars.”
The artworks, especially those created by internationally known artists, will draw visitors to the valley, he said.
Hosner compared the Napa RAD to similar mural projects he’s worked on in Honolulu, Lancaster, Calif. and Long Beach. While Napa is a smaller city, “it’s also amazing,” he said. Artists can really see the town, and get to know the area while they are here.
“It’s ultimately about community,” said Hosner. The mural project will help “connect the dots” between local businesses, artists and visitors. “It will show the connective power of art.”
Hosner said that local artists and students will also be invited to help paint future mural projects.
When asked if he was worried that the mural would be “tagged” with graffiti in the future, Pantone shrugged his shoulders. “You never know,” he said. He’s painted graffiti before, he admitted.
“You can’t control it.”
The next mural, to be created by Cinta Vidal from Barcelona, Spain, will be painted on the back of the building immediately north of the Register occupied by NAPA Auto Parts.