Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Yountville: Come for the food and wine, stay for the art

A New Spin / Napa Valley artist Freeland Tanner's 2014 sculpture is
comprised of Cedar and Redwood grape stakes and repurposed poplar wood.

The town of Yountville is quickly becoming synonymous with art as it is with food and wine. Look around and you'll see how the influences from vintner culture, wine industry, culinary and arts converge in this lovely destination situated along Highway 29 in the heart of California's Napa Valley, about 60 miles outside San Francisco.

Bouchon / One of Yountville's
 world-class dining experiences.
While French Laundry and Bouchon brought Michelin stars and accolades -- and helped transform Yountville into a world-class destination for food -- there's been a push to show a creative, artsy side in a very public and profound way thanks to the installation of outdoor sculptures. The output of artwork doting Yountville has been very inspiring and has helped turn this wine country town into an outdoor art gallery.

Balance by Sherry Tobin.
Locals or tourists who walk along Yountville's Washington Street, the town's main thoroughfare, will notice about three dozen pieces of outdoor sculpture. The town went on an art binge beginning about three years ago by installing sculptures by local artists and some internationally-known ones, too.

While some of the sculptures are subtle in their quality, most are quite colorful and grab one's attention. Each is a welcome sight and during a recent visit, I noticed, many were magnets for both serious photographers as well as tourists stopping to take selfies.

Trellis Way to the Sky
by Freeland Tanner.
Each sculpture is well signed with information such as title, artist and composition. And, best of all, each is for sale with a percentage of the sales benefitting the Yountville Arts Fund which helps provide continued support for arts related activities and events in Yountville.

As someone who has returned often to Yountville to enjoy its culinary aspects, at Bouchon as well as Ad Hoc and Redd Wood, I've seen the town evolve nicely over the past 20 years. Now, the outdoor sculptures have become an essential and enjoyable component of the Yountville experience just like the puff pastries and macarons at Bouchon Bakery.

Indeed, come for the food and wine, stay for the art.

All photographs by Michael Dickens © 2015.

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