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Art - Napa’s Sacred Circle of Heritage


This story is dedicated to Harry Price.

If I had to name the third most impactful commodity Napa Valley had to offer––fine wine and gourmet food taking first and second place––I would easily have an answer . . . art. That may be more my opinion than fact, but you have to admit, we have an art thing going on, and April is the month we celebrate the creativity and personalities behind the visual, performing, culinary, literary, and musical arts produced in Napa Valley. Let’s make a point to go out, meet some of our local artisans and appreciate their creativity––not only in April, but all year long.

The artists featured here are local, they are individually prolific––exhibiting and creating art on a continual basis. The hard work, talent, and passion of each is evident in the stories their images tell.

MAGGY WALTON

Ethereal watercolors and nature photography evoke a tangible connection between the viewer and the viewed . . . as seen through this artists’ lens. The gossamer wings of a butterfly flutter, the buzz of the bee is all but heard, the Hawaiian volcano flow warms your face as you observe an image captured by Maggy Walton.

From a young age, Maggy loved to paint, she took every art class she could, and never turned back. Sadly, her painting studio was destroyed in the 2014 earthquake that shook Napa to its core. Not to worry . . . now she feeds her creativity through her love of photography. Long before the disaster, Maggy earned a degree at the Photography & Graphic Arts program at Napa Valley College.

Her unique style of work is considered “illustrative digital photography” ––using the camera and computer to create images which spark joy. Her favorite subject matter are flowers and old architecture. Maggy, and her partner, Sandra, make the most of their free time, traveling and discovering new, exciting images to capture.

Maggy’s creative spirit has been cultivated in every aspect of her life. With over forty years in the publishing and printing business, she has been able to use her creative skills in her work at Napa Printing––a bonus for clients who reap the benefits of the seeds which art has sown for Maggy.

April 1-July 31 you can see Maggy’s art on display at Cornerstone Cellars at The Village at Vista Collina, the artist reception will be hosted 6-8 pm on April 18. Maggy’s watercolors and photo images are printed on handbags and scarves. These amazing pieces of functional art are available for purchase at shopvida.com/collections/maggy-walton

DUSTY KRAMER

A full-time artist, Dusty Kramer considers himself a “Local Leonardo”. From what I have seen of his work, it is an appropriate moniker. You can judge for yourself; go to his website to find his public art. You’ll be surprised at the eclectic array of work. What can’t be seen in the images is the effort it takes to carry off some of Dusty’s artistic feats.

Much of his work is larger-than-life, literally; he is a muralist. We can all ‘see’ what he does and admire the results, but my mind goes elsewhere when I see a mural. I imagine what it takes to pull off these gigantic works of art. I asked Dusty to tell us about some of his challenges, “There are so many, and for so many different reasons. Last year I did a Mural on a barn, high in a basket lift, and I paid for a giant print out. I pieced it together and backed it with a transfer paper. Once you tape something like that and use it, it’s done . . . no second try. If it didn’t work, I have to spend my own money to buy another. Wind became my enemy, porous flaky wood wouldn’t hold the tape. Remember, this thing is twenty-feet wide and trying to take flight . . . I finally won that battle and secured the template. I traced it out and pulled it off, and there was almost nothing there! No drawing, no lines to see. I had a few key areas that helped me pull the image together, I made it.”

Dusty has no shortage of work. “One of the things that keeps me busy, yet is very odd in what one might think of as an art... but it’s custom repairs. I do lots of color and texture matching for plaster or faux finished walls that have cracked or been patched. Water damage, new construction, the earthquake, and even just scratches, gauges, and marks have given me another specialty to add to my repertoire. I make them disappear with paint. Sometimes I use my faux wood graining or stone techniques to solve issues like that.”

Always on the lookout for a new project, Dusty would love to paint something to enhance the entire community. There’s an underpass on Imola that would serve as a gateway into town––something to be enjoyed by locals and visitors! Napa, what do you think? If it comes up, put in a good word for our Local Leonardo.

CAROLYNNE GAMBLE

If you are lucky enough to know Carolynne Gamble, you know there are inspirational pieces of art nearby. ‘Master of Fine Arts’ barely describes her accomplishments. Carolynne has been creating (and guiding) Mandala art in her St. Helena studio for many years, and the spiritual essence of her art lovingly invades the space it occupies. Carolynne’s contribution to the Napa Valley art community is so much more than her body of work––which seems to be endless––as she is always creating.

Carolynne is an actual ‘master’ of marketing and has spent countless hours in service to the community, as a business advisor and mentor, to hundreds of local artists and entrepreneurs.

This past year, Carolynne’s work has been on display at Gillwood’s in St. Helena, St. Helena Public Library, The Rianda House in St. Helena, and most recently at the Cornerstone Cellars tasting room at Vista Collina in Napa, to mention a few. Her bodies of work are as varied as her creative ideas, from show to show, her imagination leads us to recognize art as our collective sacred circle of heritage––something we all share.

In April, the Napa County Historical Society is hosting a show of Carolynne’s newest works. Of her show, titled “Hand-tinted Tidings of Yester Year,” Carolynne selected old photos from the Historical Society archives and had them enlarged and the images were imprinted on a special type of paper. For hours she painted lines and shadows of the past. This led her to consider her own heritage and legacy. In the process she remembered watching her mother hand-tint old photographs, back in the day, before color film, and before digital. And all these years later she used digital to reproduce old photos so she could hand-tint them––like long ago.

These successful artists had a few comments for young artists who may be wondering if this is a path . . .

“Follow your heart and create.”

“Believe in the dream.”

“Do what you love and money will follow.”

There are so many talented, hard-working artists in our community. This story is dedicated to Harry Price. You can look forward to reading more of their stories in the next installment of Art - Napa’s Sacred Circle of Heritage.

maggywalton.com | dustykramer.com | carolynnegamble.com

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