Iconic “Art Sheep” Return to Napa Valley

For years, one of the North Bay’s most recognizable roadside landmarks were the painted sheep that seemed to graze on the hillside along the highway between Sonoma and Napa.

Created by artist and art patron Veronica di Rosa, and located at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Arts, the metal sheep sculptures were a beloved sight for decades, until they were removed due to their deteriorating condition and safety concerns in late 2016.

The flock’s removal caused a stir across the community, and led to several calls for their return. Now, those calls have been answered, and the beloved sheep have come out quarantine this spring to graze along the hillside of di Rosa Center’s Sculpture Meadow.

While the sheep won’t be in the same grazing spot as before, travelers and visitors simply need to leave their cars and take a stroll to the Sculpture Meadow to see the flock, which includes a handful of fluffy white sheep striking various poses and–of course–a lone black sheep.

The sheep’s return was spurred by the center’s recent relocation of Mark di Suvero’s For Veronica sculpture, which was moved from the Sculpture Meadow to a prominent position on the hillside in front of Winery Lake, where it was originally intended to sit.

“Once we moved Mark di Suvero’s sculpture up to the dam it was clear that we had a void to fill in the Sculpture Meadow,” states di Rosa Center Executive Director Kate Eilertsen. “Restoring Veronica’s sheep and placing it in that spot was meaningful to the organization and I hope, to the community.”

Not only can visitors see the sheep in-person, they also have the chance to name the individual members of the artistic flock.

Beginning Friday, May 28, di Rosa hosts a “name the sheep” contest to raise scholarship funds for Camp di Rosa: Art + Nature, the organization’s first-ever summer camp.

Naming opportunities for the white sheep are a $50 donation per entry and black sheep naming opportunities are a $100 donation per entry.

The contest ends June 7 and winners will be announced on June 9. Following the announcement, special collars will be made for the sheep bearing their new names.

“We are counting on some very creative sheep names! I think people will have a lot of fun giving while also supporting a good cause,” states di Rosa Center Director of Development Laura Zimmerman.

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is located at 5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa. The campus is open to the public Friday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm. For more information, visit dirosaart.org.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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