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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Connecting Artists & Community - Napa Makes

Photo Credit: Emma K. Morris

Liz Murray had an idea for a fundraiser. Murray, who managed textile and painting studios before moving to Napa to work at The Restaurant at Meadowood, envisioned an event that combined Napa’s celebrated culinary scene with the lesser-known world of local artists. She saw an opportunity to give back to the community in a way that supported both the local artists and a local arts organization.

Murray pitched her idea for a fundraising dinner to Jordan Felling, founder of The Pollinate Brand, a business specializing in event production for nonprofit organizations. Felling, excited by the potential of the project, knew the concept could expand into something even more significant. Why not organize a crafts market connecting the local community with artisans working behind the scenes in Napa Valley?

Murray and Felling called Emma K. Morris, a local photographer and creative director, to help bring their growing concept to fruition. Morris joined their team and immediately began assembling a lineup of local artisans from her extensive network of jewelers, clothing designers, woodworkers, and ceramicists.

The three women combined their passion for arts and community with their business savvy to launch Napa Makes in April 2018.

Cultivating a sense of community is at the heart of the Napa Makes project. Not only does the event connect locals with artists crafting extraordinary products in their town, but Napa Makes also raises funds to support scholarships at The Oxbow School.

Felling, an Oxbow School graduate and former Admissions Director, knew the school was the ideal location for Napa Makes.

“Young high school students come from all over the world to The Oxbow School to learn about idea-driven art,” explains Felling, “this sends them into the world as strong thinkers and problem solvers. That entrepreneurial spirit, that ability to land on one’s feet, is something our makers relate to. They understand what it means to communicate an idea, to stay persistent, and let passion drive their can’t-help-themselves artist life.”

Many locals hear Oxbow and think of the market on First Street without realizing that around the bend of the Napa River sits an internationally renowned art school. With the school serving as the generous host for the event, one of only two times a year the campus is open to the public, Napa Makes helps build a bridge between the school and the community.

Following the success of the first Napa Makes in 2018, Murray promises shoppers, “More! More artists, more food, more wine, more workshops, more ways for guests to enjoy the beautiful location along the river.”

A combination of returning and new artists comprise the more than 20 makers featured in 2019. Familiar faces will include Nicole and Mikey Kelly of Yolotli with their totes, fashion, and sandals, fiber artist Kristina Nobleman with her naturally dyed textiles, Shipwright & Co. with all new custom letterpress greeting cards and Oxbow School alumna Holly McVeigh with her ceramic flasks.

New makers include Annie Favia who will share her ERDA teas made from organic whole leaves and flowers, Jenny Fong who will display her Modern Shibori apparel collection and Amanda Hunt with jewelry inspired by her explorations of California’s natural landscape. Miracle Plum Marketplace, featuring local food purveyors, adds to the diversity of the 2019 shopping experience.

The littlest Napa Makes shoppers will have plenty to explore as well with hands-on art projects like the Napa Quake Mosaic and make-and-take boutonnieres with Evermore Flowers. Napa Bookmine will continue their annual tradition of story time at Napa Makes as well.

Bespoke canvas bags designed by former Oxbow alumna, Katie Kimmel, will be available for purchase at the event. The bags are both stylish and functional, freeing shoppers’ hands so they can enjoy bagels and shmears from Paulie’s Bagels, fried chicken sandwiches from Contimo Provisions, juice from Crisp Kitchen & Juice and spicy chai teas from Chico Chai.

Shoppers are encouraged to sip a glass (or two!) of wine donated by Relic, Massican, Etxea, Farella, Paper Planes, Raft, and Soil + Sink available at Cadet’s pop-up wine bar. All proceeds from by-the-glass wine sales will be donated to The Oxbow School and their scholarship program. Felling, Morris, and Murray hope to write an even bigger check than the nearly $5,000 they were able to donate through Napa Makes in 2018.



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