Arts + Culture
Art Association Napa Valley
OVER 70 YEARS OF IMPACT in the Napa Valley
WRITTEN BY Layne Randolph


Published On: July 05, 2022

Art Association Napa Valley (AANV) has supported Napa Valley arts and culture for over 70 years with a small group of adamant supporters and artists, ensuring that the private, non-profit arts organization provides funding, advocacy, marketing, and exhibition opportunities for local artists.

They do this via the cooperative Art Gallery at 1307 First Street in beautiful downtown Napa and the Art Center on Behrens Street in Napa, the long-time home of the Association. The Center features an abundance of studio, meeting, workshop, and class spaces. In addition, Open Studios Napa Valley, an event sponsored by AANV, offers a self-guided art discovery tour through the creative art spaces of Napa Valley on the last two weekends of September each year.

Behind the scenes, the nonprofit is kept running through the dedication of a core group of 15 to 20 local volunteers and Gallery artists, who, in addition to their monthly studio space fees, agree to work at the Gallery for four to eight hours per month depending on the size of their art space.

The level of commitment from the organization’s supporters and members is shown in the group’s fifteen-member board, which includes members who have been with AANV for decades, like former President and current Treasurer Mary Atman. “She has given the most to the Gallery and Foundation; she has consistently gone over and above over the years,” gushed Jeanne Dillon, Gallery Manager. Janis Adams is the current president.

With around 150 members and 54 Gallery artists, the Napa non-profit can accomplish a surprising amount of good in the Napa Valley. Since 2016, the organization has awarded $24,000 in scholarships, and it would have been more were it not for two years of pandemic closures that put a pause on the Fund.

AANV’s most impactful endeavor is the Scholarship Fund, which benefits art-career-minded students at seven public Napa Valley high schools and the Napa Junior College. The scholarship is primarily funded by member dues and by a percentage of art sold at the Gallery.

Nicholas Cann, a former set illustrator for MGM Studios, is one of the gallery artists who works with and teaches young artists at the Center. One of those students was Sebastian Guerra, a scholarship recipient in 2014.

“I met Sebastian when he was a junior at New Technology High School. He later spent a semester at Oxbow School. When he was asked to paint a portrait of a fellow student for his final project, my wife was so impressed that she commissioned him to paint an eight-by-four-foot portrait of me, which was then featured in the Arts Section of the Napa Valley Register.”

The scholarship allowed Sebastian to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, graduating with honors.

The proud Cann shared, “After graduation, [Sebastian] was hired at Disney Studios, with six artists reporting to him. A year or two later, he was offered a job in animation with Netflix, where most recently, he was offered the position of top art director on a new feature, where he manages fifty artists.”