A quaint cobblestone home situated on 217 acres of gardens and vineyards in Napa Valley was where Rene and Veronica di Rosa’s dream began. The large collection of art was originally compiled on the grounds by the collectors over the years and continues to grow to this day.
When Rene di Rosa purchased land in the Carneros region of Napa in the 1960s he sought to preserve the beauty of the region by planting vineyards. While taking viticulture classes at UC Davis he developed lifelong friendships with artists William T. Wiley, Robert Hudson, and Robert Arneson. He became an avid collector and art appreciator. The activist decided to preserve the culture of the land by making his contemporary and historic assemble of art a permanent home for all to enjoy (which is now housed in three buildings around Winery Lake).
The nonprofit organization opened to the public in 1997 and was incorporated as an independent museum in 2000. Although the founders have passed on, the organization continues to highlight the work of Northern California artist. The historic buildings and surroundings were gifted to the public by the di Rosa’s for future generations of artists.
In 2005, the Gatehouse Gallery exhibitions program was created for contemporary Bay Area art. The program provides insight into the work of present day local artists with three main focuses. The Collection in Context exhibitions focal point is on the resource of the vast di Rosa collection, with new perspective to individual works in Bay Area regional art. Emerging Artists exhibitions look at new work by Bay Area artists who are seeking exposure and its New Works exhibitions look at recent art of mid-level artists.
The Gatehouse Gallery offers visitors a scenic backdrop to view its permanent collections and rotating exhibits. Its current exhibit Renaissance on Fillmore will be housed at the Gatehouse until January 27, 2013. It features the work of 17 artists who lived in the building at 2322 Fillmore or were active in the neighborhood’s pioneering art galleries.
This month Amy Owen is starting her role as the new curator for the di Rosa collection and Gatehouse Gallery. She comes to di Rosa from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where she was Senior Exhibitions Manager.
Owen said in a December 2012 di Rosa press release, “I am thrilled and honored to be joining the team at di Rosa. The impressive depth of the collection; coupled with the organization’s commitment to emergent artistic practices from the Bay Area, make it a particularly dynamic context for the development of innovative exhibitions and programs.”
It has ongoing selections housed both in Gatehouse Gallery and the Main Gallery. Considered by some as the most massive display of Bay Area art in the world, di Rosa is home to approximately 2,000 works of art by more than 800 artists in all forms of media. This includes painting, sculpture, ceramics, and video by artists working from the 1960s to the present day.
It has work by John Buck, David Best, Larry Sultan, Raymond Saunders, Bruce Conner, Alan Rath, Nathan Oliveira, Mildred Howard, Paul Kos, Viola Frey, Stephen De Staebler, Mark di Suvero, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Enrique Chagoya, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, William T. Wiley, Robert Hudson, Richard Shaw, Bruce Nauman, Deborah Butterfield, just to name a few.
“The renowned di Rosa collection covers more than half a century of work from many noted and distinguished artists, attracting thousands of visitors annually for exhibitions, tours, lectures, and family events,” Ann Trinca, di Rosa Marketing & Events Manager said in a prepared statement.
It has a variety of programs and exhibitions for art lovers of all ages and forms including public and school tours as well as its annual family day, members picnic, and benefit art auction.
The outdoorsy-types can stroll along Sculpture Meadow, consisting of one-third of a mile of sculptures. Its Historic Residence was once a winery and then renovated into a home for the museum’s founders, now it is home to hundreds of pieces. There are guided tours, offered Wednesday through Sunday from 10a.m. until 4p.m.
Art appreciators can volunteer as Gatehouse Desk Volunteer to welcome visitors or can lead tours after completing 14 weeks of docent training. It also has limited number of internship opportunities for credit in association with colleges and universities in the Bay Area. Interested parties can also become a member depending on which level and benefits or support di Rosa through individual or institutional giving. Matching Grants, Stock Transfers, In Kind Gifts and Planned Giving are all greatly appreciated.
The museum is located at 5200 Sonoma Highway in Napa. It is closed Monday, Tuesday and holidays. For more information, visit dirosaart.org.
Text by Kimberly Horg
Photography by Steven Rothfeld and Ann Trinca