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Yountville Public Art

"Yellow Twister" by artist Luis G. Fernandez is part of the Yountville Public Art Walk. The town has ambitious plans for more pieces of public art. In the meantime, it is looking at "placeholder" pieces which have yet to be designed. 

YOUNTVILLE — In the future, unused spaces on downtown Yountville’s Art Walk may still do their part to beautify the town.

A set of installations – technically placeholders, but designed by Napa Valley artists – would occupy currently vacant locations on Washington and Yount streets under a plan introduced Monday to the town’s Arts Commission. While filling in for sculptures yet to be approved or installed, the decorative pieces would themselves become pieces within the resort town’s open-air gallery – and, like official display pieces, could be sold to the public.

Having a supply of attractively designed pieces will help Yountville keep up a full array of outdoor artworks “so we don’t feel hurried to put up sculptures that may not be the quality they should be,” Commissioner Ronda Schaer said in describing the project.

Yountville would commission an artist to create four to six pieces that would occupy spare pads within the Art Walk, which holds up to 32 sculptures at a time. Vacant sites would receive the placeholders – each possibly 4 by 4 feet – with spares being stored in the town corporation yard.

Money for the fill-in pieces would be drawn from a Yountville program that requires those seeking a commercial building permit to pay 1 percent of a project’s cost into a town public art fund managed by the Arts Commission. Developers also have the option to include public art with their projects.

Having decorative space-fillers on hand may help Yountville better cope with the varying conditions of sites that may be suitable for some artworks but not others, depending on the character of other sculptures nearby or the presence of trees or other obstructions, according to Commissioner Kimberly Cook.

“We’re always working on things,” she said, “but every (piece) doesn’t necessarily fit into every location.”

Meanwhile, Town Manager Steve Rogers supported regularly updating the look of such stand-in artworks, a step that could go hand in hand with annual sales of the pieces at events such as Yountville’s Art, Sip & Stroll each April.

A report on the program released before the meeting suggested heart-themed works and even a heart-themed program name, but Rogers offered the alternative of a stylized “Y” after the town name. (The letter previously was used in an aerial group photo organized in 2015 for the 50th anniversary of the town’s incorporation, in which about 1,000 people – a third of the population – formed a giant Y at the intersection of Washington and Yount streets.)

Also Tuesday, the commission approved five new sculptures for Art Walk display:

- “Blue Footed Bandit” by Fitzhugh Karol, an installation of Douglas fir that may be placed at Van de Leur Park

- “Leaving Leonardo” by Evany Zirul, a figure crafted from metal wire and set inside a ring

- “Butterfly Garden” by Randolph Holland, a conceptual piece that would comprise 10-foot-tall curved fiberglass stalks topped with aluminum butterflies

- “Who Rescued Who,” a 5-foot-tall bronze work by Lorri Alcott

- “Arc of Peace” by Lorri Alcott, a 7-foot-tall bronze human figure topped by birds

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.