On July 20th, 2023 we held a public event to share the stories and work of five of our Napa artists. First Street Napa generously hosted us in one of their retail spaces that was empty in-between tenants, and the artists arrived early to set up and display their work. The audience included City staff, elected officials and policymakers, as well as artists and community members. Each artists had 10 minutes to present 10 slides and share their stories; see below for their presentations and statements.
Arleene Correa Valencia
Arleene presented via Zoom from Mexico City, where she was finalizing several pieces in advance of some new shows opening up. Arleene lives in Napa but had found it more cost-effective to work in Mexico City.
Name: Agnes Pierscieniak
What I do: I host creative experiences and make mixed media artworks and textiles. (from hand dyed sweatshirts to digital murals)
I live in Napa because: It is a place surrounded by nature close to my family. Good weather and a calm, peaceful life.
What is working about making my art in Napa is: I am grateful how helpful everyone has been. Coming from a large city like Los Angeles, it was often a challenge to get help or figure things out in a large system with spending a ton of money on promotion and connection. Here, the person you ask might not know but they will refer you to someone else who does. Everyone is SO helpful and genuinely cares about sharing information. I feel very supported and connected, especially for being a newcomer who just started with no connections and no deep pockets.
Something I wish we could have in Napa is: A better way of connecting with the wine industry and business leaders. I appreciate the connection with city decision makers and I think a good next step would be to connect local high profile business owners with creatives. I believe that new endeavors should be win/win for those involved. A system where one group gives and one group receives/asks does not set up fair and equitable relationship. Going from a business world, every interaction to be successful should benefit both parties. So rather than artists asking for cheaper art space, what can we do to set up systems and relationships to help; ie: There is a 1% for the arts. Can that money be used to fund art spaces/people rather than products? Is there an event where winery owners invite artists to show/sell their work? I appreciate Nimbus but also think it does not have to be a non profit model. Why do artists donate art to sell at an Auction? Can art sales be set up to give 100% of proceeds to artists? Can a maker market be set up to sell work? The City can help with infrastructure rather than money. I believe that so much can be accomplished when people work together and both are invested in the game. How can decision makers get to know creatives to see how they can work on projects to benefit both parties?
I believe that it’s nearly impossible to change the entire world, but it’s possible and doable to change your world. Take action with the first step. Take ownership of your responsibility. Start small. Build one place. Make it successful. Make it a community. The rest will follow.
See Agnes' presentation here.
Name: Kristina Young, Studio KLY LLC
I make: public art, murals and mosaics, often through a collaborative process
I live in Napa because: I have developed deep relationships with the community after working here for 25 years. Napa’s landscape and natural surroundings have also been a big part of my work.
What is working about making my art BUSINESS in Napa is: Much of my work focuses on community and place. The understanding I have about this town, its history, residents, and natural environment informs my work and deepens its meaning.
Something I wish we could have in Napa is in two main areas:
1) VALUES/ COMMMUNITY ALIGNMENT
More opportunities (like the forum) for honest exchange and relationship building between government, and the business and creative communities.
- Balanced economic focus and resources between the needs of corporate businesses focusing on tourism and businesses/ non-profits serving locals.
- Understanding that the creative community is an essential (and mostly untapped) part of the greater Napa business community.
- A shared value that we nurture the creative talent that is here (in all stages of career) to develop and celebrate the existing and future generations of home-grown talent.
- More attention on listening to and developing the unique voice of the Napa community (as more than a venue for outside talent and visitors).
- More opportunities and support for the Anglo and Latino communities to build relationships. Love for the City to work directly with local Latino leaders to understand how to best communicate with this community (not just translating and disseminating information the same way you would to the Anglo community).
2) SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES THAT SUPPORT THE CREATIVE COMMUNITY
- Public art registry created with a public art professional for the City to help developers find and partner with local artists.
- City-supported community center with non-profit and education partners that offers affordable space for artists in all disciplines to learn, practice, exhibit, perform, and gather.
- City-supported, centrally located maker space for artists to create and show their work, collaborate, hold workshops and events, as well as share resources and interface directly to the public.
- Outreach out to the pool of mid-career/ established artists who currently do not show their work in Napa so the greater community can benefit from seeing this locally made work.
- Outreach and public education about the City’s Public Art Fund and how it works (that this is not the same pot of money used for potholes and shelters for the unhoused, etc.).
- Expanded City public art program into its own department (not a part of Parks and Rec) like many other cities around the Bay Area.
- Official Napa arts district with tax incentives for businesses.
- A City/ Arts Council partnership on their re-grant programs for artists
- Tax or other incentives for creative reuse for spaces in Napa
- Vacant schools like Mt George or Harvest/ River Schools and underused cultural resources Jarvis Conservatory, Napa Grange Hall, NV College/ Adult Ed buildings on Menlo that could become maker spaces/ temporary exhibition spaces (ie, Art-Responds exhibit about the 2017 wildfires fires created by a local curator in an empty retail space at First Street Napa, or where the forum itself was held)
- Empty storefronts, temporary construction fences can become spaces for rotating mural program
- For property owners to repair/ sell/ temporarily loan damaged properties left unusable year after year (ie downtown buildings damaged in the 2014 earthquake like the Safeway on Soscol, Law Offices on Brown/ Third)
- Learn from other communities in our cohort who are doing these things already:
- Support to add language to the County Ag Preserve that differentiates an artist’s studio from other entertainment or production businesses.
- A City-owned home for the Quake Mosaic.
See Kristina's presentation here.
Name: Jacques Lesec
I Make: I am a licensed architect and sculptural artist based in Downtown Napa specializing in large-format sculpture and custom art installations.
I live in Napa because: My wife was raised in Napa and this is our home.
What is working about making my art in Napa is: There is already a vibrant artist community that meets regularly and supports one another. Furthermore, the City has successfully integrated the Lighted Art Festival to drive tourism to our city during off-season months and provide exposure to local artists looking to explore an emerging medium.
Something I wish we could have in Napa is: I envision a communal maker space that serves the community as much as it does the Napa-based artist. This is a space that invites local participation and provides much-needed exposure to locally crafted work. This would represent a partnership with the City to recognize a place where artists can meet, make, share resources, and engage with the community. There is also tremendous potential for educational collaborations where students can learn valuable skill sets and gain hands-on experience.
See Jacques' presentation here.
Sunshine displays and sells her work at the Arts Association of the Napa Valley downtown on First Street and occasionally at the Farmers Market. She was kind enough to be on-site at the event, painting!