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Napa Valley students’ art lights up a Yountville gallery

Outside the Steve Rogers Gallery at the Community Center in Yountville, the town looked like a set for a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Snow Elementary fourth-grader Anahi Tijero-Naranjo stands by art works from her class, part of the Youth Art Show at the Yountville Community Center. Photo by Rosemarie Kempton.

Outside the Steve Rogers Gallery at the Community Center in Yountville, the town looked like a set for a Hallmark Christmas movie.  Thousands of sparkling lights lining Washington Street set the stage for holiday splendor and adventure.  

Inside the gallery, a feeling of excitement was palpable as well over 100 people – parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, artists and art lovers – came to see the work of 30 young artists at the opening reception of the annual Youth Art Show on Dec. 7.

Young artists were kept busy, responding to praise for their work and posing for pictures as they juggled their hot cocoa and cookies. At times the crowd at the reception was so thick people had to skillfully maneuver through the throng to see their favorite artist’s work or to get close enough to take a photo alongside the art.

Since the gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ,Monday through Friday and evenings by appointment, there will be less congested opportunities to see the art in this exhibit which runs through Jan. 5.

Now in its seventh year, this popular show highlights the importance of art in the lives of local youth and celebrates the great talent and creativity of Napa County young people.

The artists, ranging in age from 5 to 18, plus one gifted 3-year-old, are from Snow Elementary School in Napa,  Napa and Justin Sienna high schools and other private and public schools, as well as the Boys and Girls Club.

Each piece in this show is worthy of mention.  Some, perhaps, foreshadow brilliant artistic careers in the years to come. One of these is “Flower” by 3-year-old Isabella Wakamiya.

“Yountville Arts with the help of Parks and Rec sponsors this show every year and its always invigorating to see the art from our valley-wide children,” said Ronda Schaer, a Yountville Art Commissioner. “This year it seems the children are more contemplative, more focused and importantly more heartfelt. It’s a pleasure to bring this collection to our Yountville community.”

More than a dozen students from Jackie Griego and Lori Haugen’s fourth-grade class at Snow Elementary School in Napa participated in the art exhibit.

Many of the students in this “hard-working class are learning English along with the regular curriculum,” Haugen said. The students are taking great pride in their art this year and are pleased for the opportunity to display it for the community to enjoy.

Two of the Snow Elementary School artists were at the event.

“This is my first art exhibit,” said Yaretzi Alejo Ramirez, a fourth-grader at Snow who enjoys drawing the expressions on faces. “I feel proud, happy. I want to work more on drawing eyes – they seem the hardest thing for me to draw.”

“I like art and to make flowers,” said Snow Elementary fourth-grader Anahi Tijero-Naranjo. “It is exciting to bring my family to the show to see my art.”

Melissa Stone’s Justin Sienna High School graphic design class made an impressive contribution to the exhibit with their minimal self-portraits using Adobe Illustrator.  The self-portraits give viewers the sense that they’ve met these teenagers. Michael Campos’ self-portrait not only reveals his appearance, it suggests a friendly personality and his approach to life with the words “Live, Laugh, Love” in large lettering.

Ashlyn Daniel and her mother pose next to Daniels’ art work in the Yountville show. Submitted photo.

One of the most impressive pieces in this show is a large charcoal of a bunny done by 15-year-old Napa High school freshman, Ashlyn Daniel.

When asked about her work Daniel explained that she was assigned the task of making a reflection piece for her art class. “I was inspired to make a bunny because I have a pet bunny named Judy Hops,” Daniel said, adding. “Art makes me feel calm and it matches my mood.”

Mayacamas Charter School seventh-grader, Acadia Legion’s work, “Divided,” was also attracting interest.

“I’ve been doing artwork forever. I started when I was 3-years old,” Legion said. “I did my piece here with markers, paint pens and colored pencils. It is a departure from my usual work.”

“Farmer Guy” by 11-year-old Griffin Clark was his interpretation of the well-known “American Gothic” by Grant Wood. Clark was born and raised in Yountville, and his Napa Valley roots go back many generations.

“Pharaoh Lady,” by 12-year-old Sophie Simon, an assignment she completed in her sixth-grade class at St. Apollinaris, also shows remarkable talent.

This annual exhibit sponsored by Yountville Arts is at the Steve Rogers Gallery at the Yountville Community Center, located at 6516 Washington St. Visit for more information.