Given all the focus on the valley’s incredible wineries and restaurants, one can be excused for not viewing it as a venue for seeing fine art. It is, however, more than worth searching out some of the valley’s often hidden artistic venues. Although we always try to visit a number of Yountville and St. Helena galleries, this trip we found time to return to two of our favorite sites (the Hess Collection and theDiRosa Preserve). Although our primary music plans (a Preservation Jazz Hall Band concert) was thwarted by a winery dinner, we did manage to find a fun, albeit much lower-profile (also Louisiana-inspired) substitute:
- Hess Collection Museum. A Mt. Veeder gem of a collection of contemporary art, from Abstract Expressionism to current genres. Artists including Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg and Gerhardt Richter are well represented.
- DiRosa Preserve, another, much larger collection (more than 2000 pieces) of California contemporary art in a large, beautifully-sited Carneros estate filled with an eclectic selection of art, largely from young, emerging, largely unknown artists, collected by wealthy patrons Rene and Veronica diRosa. While the quality of the work is far more mixed than is the case with the Hess Collection masterworks, it is certainly quirky, engaging and personal and provides a great picture of how the patrons lived and entertained.
- Mumm Photography Gallery, where we visited an exhibition of 1940’s photos from students of a San Francisco Art school (whose photography program was established by Ansel Adams) and the collection’s highlight, a series of photos by Adams himself.
- Ma(i)sonry Gallery. A Yountville art gallery/wine tasting room that has an interesting selection. The highlight, at least for us, is the huge 20×27-inch limited edition collector’s book with 476 pages of photos (especially celebrity photos) by Annie Liebowitz. The big question for when we return home: can we find a spot in our home where we can effectively showcase this incredible book?
Napa also has music. Our intent had been to go to a Preservation Jazz Hall Band concert at Mondavi vineyard. Unfortunately, we had a scheduling conflict and could not make it. So we did the next best thing. Beringer has a Sunday afternoon concert series at where we tasted some of the winery’s reserve wines (especially the 2007 Quarry Vineyard Rutherford and Steinhauer Range Howell Mountain Single Vineyard Cabs and the 2006 Private Reserve Cab) while listening to a Bayou blues and zydeco band. Not quite Preservation Hall, but fun anyways.