When your taste buds are tired from wine tasting, indulge a different sense by checking out Napa’s art offerings, many of them free. In downtown Napa and St. Helena, elegantly curated galleries display works by nationally known painters, sculptors and photographers. But no trip to Napa is complete without a wander through the di Rosa preserve, an enormous maze of galleries and sculpture gardens that occupies 217 acres in the Carneros region of southern Napa county. And now that Gordon Huether has opened his studio at the Hay Barn, it’s like open studio week all the time.
Here are my top tips for finding free art in Napa.
1. Gordon Huether’s Studio. Entering Huether’s new Hay Barn studio feels like finding a playground for grownups. Huether’s fantastical glass and metal sculptures and installations, known to travelers worldwide from airport walkways, finally have the spacious showplace they deserve. The onsite fabrication plant is often aclang with artists working in fire, glass and metal – very fun to watch.
2. The di Rosa Preserve. No pit stop this, you’ll need a couple of hours to fully explore this gigantic indoor/outdoor museum, which strews sculptures and installations around 217 acres of paths and meadows.
3. The Napa Valley Museum. Many people mistakenly hear the name and assume this museum is going to be your typical dusty local history museum. Yeah, they probably should have put art in the name to avoid that. In reality, this fully modern museum could put the contemporary art galleries of some major cities to shame. The frequently changing exhibit are curated to take full advantage of the airy, high-ceilinged space and tree-shrouded grounds. Current and recent past exhibits include the plein air works of , Alfredo Tofaneli, the twisty sculptures of Stephen De Staebler, and even an anime exhibit fresh from Japan.