Sonoma Museum Project: The Wine Barrel as Art

Fotolia_35436870_SIt never ceases to amaze me how wine impacts so many people in so many ways. I also am heartened by how giving the wine community is, and how it supports both charitable and community causes.

With that mind, I’d like to share a press release that just crossed my desk. Okay, it didn’t cross my desk; it appeared in my email. As you read the release, be aware that the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is quite active in taking art education into local schools.

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The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s “Barrels of Hope” project, currently underway, showcases eight local artists’ original creations based on repurposed wine barrels. This select group includes painters, sculptors, and mixed-media artists who are donating their time and talent to raise funds for the Museum’s programs. These unique pieces will be exhibited at the Museum June 18-20 and will be for sale on the Museum’s website. The exhibition will close with a reception and live auction of unsold barrels on Saturday, June 20.

The artists, well known in Sonoma Valley and beyond, have long histories of giving to the community’s numerous charities. Bob Nicholas, original project organizer, applauding both their talent and generosity, said, “We could not have asked for more talented, generous artists than these wonderful eight painters and sculptors. Our community will be blown away by their wizardry on wine barrels. I encourage everyone to come to the Museum to see them and, perhaps, bid on them.”

The barrels are whimsical in design, often incorporating the rich natural world and landscape of Sonoma Valley.

With “Fish in a Barrel,” Kate Murphy creates a cocktail table on casters containing “floating” trout. “Barnyard Barrel,” by Suzanne Brangham, incorporates the legs and wings of an animal still taking shape. “For the Birds,” by Marcie Waldron, is a tower of colorful mini-barrels with wild birds adorned with jewelry.

Tony Rockwell’s “The Butterfly Effect” uses the barrel’s seductive curvature to create the flow of a waterfall, morphing into a butterfly’s wings. Jim Callahan’s “Phoenix Rising” barrel is deconstructed and reborn as a mythical bird. And Barbara Aliza uses acrylic paint to create a scene that evokes, “the sensual theme of the seduction of wine and beauty in Sonoma Valley.”

Other artists push the structure of the barrel even further. Linda Kuhns has fashioned “Lady Hope” out of a small oak cask adorned with bits of hardware and Swarovski crystals in a process she calls “HARDART.” And Douglas Fenn Wilson is approaching his barrel with an eye for dynamic layering and architecture, cutting the barrel lengthwise, and hinging and encased it in faux granite. When this outdoor piece, an archaeological “discovery,” is opened, it becomes a full bar. Wilson calls it a “BARtifact.”

Visit for photos and additional information on the artists and the “Barrels of Hope” campaign.

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