Napa's rich artistic tapestry is not only a product of the region's natural beauty but also a result of the robust support services available to artists. A myriad of organizations are committed to empowering artists, fostering entrepreneurship, enhancing skills and celebrating cultural diversity.
The Oxbow School: Nurturing Young Artists and Cultivating Creativity
The Oxbow School holds a unique place among Napa’s artist support services, as it specifically caters to young artists seeking to explore their creative potential. Nestled in the heart of Napa, the Oxbow School stands as a beacon for young artists. Founded nearly 25 years ago, this innovative institution offers a unique semester program dedicated to visual arts, making it the only one of its kind in the world. In an interview with Jennifer Jordan, the Head of School of The Oxbow School, we discussed their programming and how the school supports Napa’s broader initiatives to cultivate spaces for artists and creators.
“Art is the catalyst for change. For our students, that’s both literal change in the world and in personal development,” said Jennifer. “To truly understand this place, you have to be here. There’s an intangible quality in seeing students building their community, working in the studio and supporting each other.”
The Oxbow School offers a semester-long, interdisciplinary arts program for students in grades 10-12 and for those taking a gap year after high school. Aspiring artists engage in a diverse range of disciplines, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and digital media. Under the guidance of experienced faculty and visiting artists, students are encouraged to experiment, take risks and explore their artistic voices. The school’s environment fosters a sense of community and collaboration, allowing young artists to develop their skills and apply the creative process in any field they pursue.
Situated in downtown Napa, the physical campus itself serves as a testament to the importance of art in the community. While the school typically welcomes 1-2 students from Napa County, its richness lies in the diverse range of students hailing from around the world. For these students, coming to Napa and experiencing The Oxbow School becomes a life-altering journey.
"The Oxbow semester was the catalyst that set our students on the trajectory of becoming lifelong artists," noted Jennifer. "People often underestimate teenagers. When they come here, they develop a sense of personal agency, tenacity and creativity that helps them understand they can achieve anything they desire in life."
The school’s integration into the Napa community extends beyond its campus walls as it pioneers various initiatives to strengthen its local connections. It hosts public artist lectures and art shows, partners with local middle schools to offer after-school arts programs and collaborates with renowned artists for on-campus residencies.
At the end of each semester, The Oxbow School culminates its immersive arts program with captivating public showcases of students’ final projects. Engaging the audience with active presentations and Q&A sessions, these showcases highlight the students’ artistic, educational, social and personal development. The Oxbow School extends a warm invitation to their upcoming showcase at the campus on July 29 at 11 a.m.
"I think a lot of people in Napa don't know who we are, but I’m determined to change that,” added Jennifer. “I am excited to help harness the momentum that is building locally as Napa embraces its heritage of diverse artistry and builds a community around artist support services.”
In addition to The Oxbow School’s unique programs Napa offers many other resources that empower creatives to be successful in our community. Learn more about key organizations that contribute to Napa's vibrant arts community and offer various artist support services below:
- Arts Council of Napa Valley: Uniting the Arts Community
The central hub for supporting and promoting the arts, connecting artists through a directory, calendar listings, and networking opportunities.
- Art Association of Napa Valley: Enriching Artistic Journeys
Provides resources like rental spaces and networking events for artists, with an open studio tour to showcase their work.
- Solano-Napa Small Business Development Center: Empowering Artists as Entrepreneurs
Offers services tailored to artists' entrepreneurial needs, including consulting, workshops, and support for accessing capital.
- Workforce Alliance of the North Bay: Enhancing Skills and Employment Opportunities
Enhances artists' professional development and job opportunities through free training programs and job placement support.
- City of Napa's Community Development Office: Streamlining the Permit Process
Assists artists with navigating permits and administrative processes, acting as a liaison and connecting them with resources.
- Napa Downtown Association (Do Napa): Fostering a Thriving Downtown Arts Scene
Drives visitors to downtown Napa through events and marketing programs, benefiting artists and businesses. Offers networking opportunities and exposure for artists.
- Napa Chamber of Commerce: Uniting and Advocating for Businesses
Supports and connects artists with networking events, business directory listings, and resources for growth.
- Napa Valley Latino Heritage Committee and Napa County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: Celebrating Diversity and Empowering Latinx Artists
Celebrates Latino cultures and supports Latinx artists through networking, workshops, and marketing assistance.
- Napa Valley College and Northern California Career Pathways Alliance (NCCPA): Cultivating Artistic Talent and Collaboration
Cultivates artistic talent and collaboration through community programs and partnerships with performing arts organizations, enhancing career pathways and the local workforce pipeline.
The City of Napa has identified these support services as part of the 2021 Creative Space & Local Manufacturing Action Plan. Learn more about the Napa Makes initiative, existing artist/maker resources and resources in the works and strategic goals for empowering artists to live, play and work in the City of Napa in the plan.