Located in the heart of Calistoga, Sofie Contemporary Arts is one of Napa Valley’s premier purveyors of inventive modern art that is diverse in media, styles and approaches.
The gallery is run by director Jan Sofie and manager Scott Sofie. Since opening the gallery in 2017, the couple have endured fires, mass evacuations and, more recently, a Covid-19 pandemic that closed their space for the past six months.
Still, Jan and Scott Sofie remain hopeful, and they share that feeling with the community as Sofie Contemporary Arts reopens this month. The new exhibit—entitled “Hope Is the Thing…”—is running now and remains on display through October.
The invitational group show’s theme is inspired by Emily Dickinson’s 1862 poem, “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers,” in which Dickinson describes the capacity for hope in metaphor as a bird that “perches in the soul.”
That hopeful feeling is illustrated in the exhibit’s diverse art from more than 20 accomplished Bay Area artists, including many North Bay favorites.
“While talking with many artists over the past difficult months, it became obvious that we were all trying to keep focused on what we really cared about, what really mattered,” Jan Sofie says in a statement.
For this exhibit, many of the participating artists are displaying works that focus on what is personally relevant for them, and selections in the show hit on topics of the pandemic and social distancing as well as economic turmoil and environmental concerns.
Participating artist Sylvia Gonzalez creates natural scenes such as her piece “Goldfinches” (pictured) from pencil and pastel drawn over monotype backgrounds. Working from her studio in Petaluma, Gonzalez focuses her layered art not only on birds, but on foxes, coyotes and other wildlife that can be found in the North Bay.
San Rafael artist Bill Russell also uses birds as an artistic metaphor in his contribution to the exhibit. His acrylic piece, “Little Birdies,” features several feathered figures in a colorful collage of movement.
Napa Valley artist Anne Pentland’s piece in the show is also a nature scene, though Pentland finds hope among ashes in her oil painting, “Aftermath Australia.” The piece is from Pentland’s ongoing “Madonna” Series, which employs the religious symbol of protection to represent Pentland’s passion for nature and her concern over climate change and its effects on wildlife.
In addition to works that feature animals, plants and other natural wonders that act as essential sources of solace, the exhibit includes works that evoke notable historical and culturally significant figures and references that aim to bolster resolve as well as hope.
“Without hope, I don’t think we can muster the courage or grit to change or go forward with what we need to do,” Sofie says. “There is always intelligence and light even in the most discouraging moments, but it takes critical awareness and discipline to manifest it; I think you will see this in the exhibition.”
Sofie Contemporary Arts is located at 1407 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga. Open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 6pm or by arrangement. 707.942.4231.