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Art is in the Air . . .



By Linda Bausch


April is the month Napa shines a light on the Arts––in all its forms––giving us a glimpse into the inspiration and work of those who have spent untold years perfecting their crafts. Art is much more than pictures hung on bare walls; it can serve a purpose or function, it can be wearable, and it is often made with the intention to enrich the community in the form of public art, giving all an equal chance to appreciate. With that in mind, get to know a few local artists and what inspires them.

Deborah Donahower, who was recognized for her “Excellence in Art” as early as the second grade, has been a working and exhibiting artist for more than fifty years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art at UCSB, with an emphasis on Ceramics and Printmaking. After college she became self-taught in the medium of pastels, which she has mastered, by anyone’s standards. She exhibits throughout the country and has received many accolades and awards, including taking home the Best of Show for her work at Napa County Fair, which is just one of many.


Deborah has been an Art Educator most of her adult life, with an impressive list of teaching venues: Hudson River Museum in New York, Branson School in Marin, and for more than ten years has taught Ceramics, Mosaics and Pastels, through Napa Valley Community Education Department. Deborah shared her knowledge with, and taught many students in the area, quite a few have earned Blue Ribbons and Best of Show awards for their own artistic creations.


Inspired by patterns and designs in nature, some of Deborah’s functional, ceramic platters, bowls, or teapots take on the shape of a nautilus shell, fish or delicate birds. Etched lines evoke the feel of a wind swirling; three dimensional acorns and images of bare branches accentuate the theme of nature in her work.

As for pastels, landscapes are her favorites, although her images of birds captivate the imagination. Inspiration for these works is easily found outside the large, bay window in her kitchen, where she lovingly nurtures a bird garden.

Deborah teaches ongoing Pastel Classes at Napa Valley Art Association Studio on Tuesday afternoons, and Mosaics on Wednesdays, 9:30 am-12:30 pm. At the Sonoma Community Center, she teaches 8-week classes: Introduction to Clay on Mondays, 10 am-1 pm; and Pastels on Fridays, 10 am-1 pm. On April 18, there will be a special Circle Vase Workshop at SCC from 10 am-2 pm.


Napa parents–look for Deborah’s Children’s Multi Medium Art Classes in after school programs at Browns Valley and Alta Heights Elementary schools.

Cathy Kough has been creating exquisite glass art for decades, beginning her career when there weren’t many women in the field. She learned from some of the industry’s most renowned glass artists and gained valuable knowledge attending workshops where she learned from her teachers and fellow students and by experimenting with different techniques. In addition to glass, Cathy learned to manipulate and add fine and sterling silver, copper, and brass to her work.


In 1990, Cathy began studying Glass Fusion. Her early focus was creating large decorative pieces––stained glass lampshades, wall hangings, plates, and bowls. In more recent years, she has come to love making elegant necklaces, pendants, earrings, and bracelets.

Dichroic Glass is the base used to create vibrant jewelery pieces which are made by fusing layer upon layer of transparent glass, of varying shades and textures, creating a unique kaleidoscope of beauty. Another dimension is added by incorporating layers of fine metals to the piece. The fusion happens by firing the items in a kiln at temperatures between 1,500 and 2,000 degrees, the length of time depends on the thickness of each piece. Dichroic glass is unique because it shimmers in brilliant, multiple colors at the same time––as light bends through or reflects off the surface.


Inspired by nature, Cathy enjoys creating what she refers to as her “Garden Necklaces,” constructed of delicate, handmade flowers, leaves and buds. The intricate components are woven with fine wire, beginning at the center and worked to the outside. Embellishments of pearls, gemstones, cubic zirconia, seashells and found objects add accents of color and texture. Cathy also uses beads sourced from Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic. Each three-dimensional piece, whether layered and fused or hand formed florals, is unique. The end results are impressive. Any woman would feel regal adorned in these one-of-a-kind, wearable art pieces. Cathy’s jewelry is on display, and available for purchase at Art Gallery Napa Valley on First Street in Downtown Napa.

Kristina Young is one of our most well known, local art advocates, as well as a popular public artist. Although she is commissioned by private clients, we can all enjoy Kristina’s whimsical art as she paints and tiles her way from one end of the Valley to the other. There is no end to the number of projects Kristina has completed, mentored, and overseen through the years; I hardly know where to start . . . but here’s a little of what KLY the FLY has been up to lately.


Kristina is the lead artist and manager of Napa Quake Mosaic, which was built in honor of those affected by the 6.1 earthquake in August 2014. She said, “Over 1,000 locals have participated in it to date, including donating broken objects, volunteering time to help sort and move all of the components, or making financial and in-kind contributions, and actually building sections of the mosaic. So many hours and so many good people have been involved.” (A home for the mosaic is in the works. Look for updates and volunteer opportunities to help create a public home for the piece.)

In the same spirit, a local homeowner commissioned Kristina to create a window surround, made from her precious, broken ceramics that were destroyed in the same seismic event.

Kristina’s work can be seen in the form of painted windows and murals for quite a few downtown Napa businesses, as they look to attract customers and delight those who pass by. Some have her rotate the scenes as the seasons change. Carpe Diem, Boho Lifestyles and Napa Bookmine are a few of the places where you can see her window work on a regular basis. Our beloved Harry Price, commissioned her to paint lavender Columbine flowers on the walls of the plaza side, public restroom at Napa River Inn. At a private residence on Oak Street, her painting on the steps, Library Stairway, is visible from the street. The pizza oven at Ca’Momi is tiled with a giant Pacific octopus, Athena. By the end of 2020, one of her newest works will be permanently installed at the new Chrysler dealership at Soscol and Saratoga in Napa.


When restrictions are lifted, it will be an important time to support our local artists. Go to the galleries, wander through local venues hosting art exhibits, meander the Art Walks in the Valley, and check out the shops downtown to see whose windows have been blessed with KLY the FLY’s whimsical inspiration.

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