Thursday, January 31, 2019

Most Napa residents demand more restrictions on development

This letter signed by every mayor in the valley was recently sent to the Board of Supervisors:

Dear Napa County Supervisors, 
It is our understanding that on Tuesday, January 29, during the completion process for the County’s strategic plan, that watershed/water source protection issues will be discussed, potentially to be forwarded on to County staff for preparation of a potential Ordinance. 

This is perhaps a direct result of Measure C and the recently concluded Congressman Mike Thompson committee meetings. Now is the time for the Supervisors to take substantive action on watershed/water source protections for the benefit of the public and the environment, and to ensure there isn’t another divisive ballot initiative.

As elected officials and members of the City Councils of our various cities, we couldn’t agree more. 
80% of our Napa County citizens and residents live in our cities and the health and well being, as well as property values and business investments of our community depend on properly functioning watersheds and the equitable management of our collective water resources.
Our municipal reservoirs, along with the Napa River, are directly affected by developments on our AW (Agricultural Watershed) lands.  
If the County is going to take substantive action on this, it is critical to involve our Cities in forming the Ordinance.  

Other than American Canyon, the voters in all of our Napa County Cities supported Measure C.   

Our people want meaningful watershed/water source protections. True leadership from the County Supervisors must recognize partnership with our Cities to ensure a sustainable water supply in terms of both quantity and quality for the foreseeable future.
Discussion of specific measures needs to occur with full inclusion of our City administrations who bear a responsibility to the citizens/residents we serve.

Geoff Ellsworth 
Mayor - City of St. Helena

Scott Sedgley 
Vice Mayor - City of Napa

Donald Williams
City Council member- City of Calistoga 

Kenneth Leary
City Council member - City of American Canyon

Margie Mohler 
City Council member - City of Yountville

Jeff Durham
City Council member - City of Yountville

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Same old? We'll soon see

                       Buddha Swing, oil and rope on board, 34"x28"

Barry Eberling is a good reporter but badly served by his copy editor. The county is not "tackling" its environmental problems but running alongside them.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Art (mine) in the Anthropocene

Wolf Moon, oil, found material (Papilionidae and paint chips), and water-based polyurethane on canvas, 6"X6"

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Napa fight goes on - thank god

The letter below went to all the supervisors in Napa County, who know that if some additional environmental protections aren't passed soon there will be another ballot initiative in 2020 limiting vineyard development. And it will almost certainly pass.
The new bad actor is the Napa Valley Farm Bureau, once an exemplary organization that with the help of the late Volker Eisele and Andy Beckstoffer set Napa's organization apart from most of the country with its aggressive pursuit of environmental preservation. Now it has been taken over by the Trumpian wing of the vintner elite.  
Subject: Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture Position Statement

January 25, 2019

Supervisors Ryan Gregory, Diane Dillon, Alfredo Pedroza, Belia Ramos and Brad Wagenknecht
Napa County Board of Supervisors
1195 Third Street, Suite 310
Napa, CA 9455

Dear Supervisors Gregory, Dillon, Pedroza, Ramos and Wagenknecht,

With the five of you addressing the Strategic Plan issue of providing greater environmental protections to ensure a healthy watershed, which we very much support and appreciate, we thought it would be useful to give you an update on discussions amongst interested parties.

As you know, in the wake of Measure C’s very close vote Congressman Mike Thompson convened a series of meetings with interested groups. The Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture attended these meetings with the intent of working collaboratively to find agreement on how we can protect the Napa Valley. 

As was requested by attendees, at the final meeting we presented to the group nine points that came from these discussions. While they reduce the goals that were aspired to in Measure C, they will still provide the protections our watershed desperately needs, especially with regard to improving stream setbacks and protecting forest canopy.

Please know that this is a significant compromise. 

At this final meeting, our points were met with indecision. The other parties stated they needed to review them further, which we understood and respected. However, though promised otherwise by the Farm Bureau, we heard nothing from them for more than seven weeks, and to date we still have not received a response. 

We are, of course, fully open to meeting further on these issues – as an illustration of this we intended to attend the meeting that the Napa County Farm Bureau scheduled for Thursday, January 24th. As we are sure you can understand, before any meeting can take place that might be a negotiation, we believe that it is necessary for groups to state their positions so that all sides have a clear understanding of goals and objectives. But the Napa County Farm Bureau had still provided no specific reaction on our positions, and it was known that our participation was predicated upon this.

Attached to this letter is our correspondence with the Napa County Farm Bureau. 

It seems to us that the group leading the Napa County Farm Bureau is uninterested in reaching an agreement to protect our watershed in Napa Valley, and that it believes that the status quo should be maintained. They seem to be using continued discussion to maintain the current situation despite efforts of the community (as measured by support for Measure C) to preserve our watershed and the natural resources that sustain it.

The Napa Valley is a national treasure that must be preserved, and we want you to know that we are here to work with you in achieving this goal of protecting this place that we all call home.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Very sincerely,

Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture 

Yeoryios Apallas 
Andy Beckstoffer
Joyce Black Sears
Laurie and Tom Clark
Randy Dunn
Bob Dwyer
Robin Lail
Dick Maher
Christian Moeuix
Beth Novak Milliken
Cio Perez
Norma Tofanelli
Warren Winiarski

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Art in the Anthropocene

From the New York Times:
  With “This Land,” David Opdyke melds art and environmental activism, hoping to inspire urgent changes in vision, one postcard, and viewer, at a time.
By Lawrence Weschler
Jan. 18, 2019                                                                                
David Opdyke’s new wall piece, “This Land,” a year in the making and fashioned out of more than 500 vintage postcards which he painted over to depict a future of environmental chaos.

Ricky Rhodes for The New York Times
    Seen from the far side of David Opdyke’s street-level studio in Ridgewood, Queens, his dire new art work, “This Land” (over 16 feet wide and 8 feet tall), looks like some sort of mosaic. A grid-work array of colorful tiles (parts of which appear to be falling away toward the bottom), portrays a panoramic bird’s-eye view down both sides of a V-shaped valley, the sun rising in the pristine distance. A crisp, lush pastoral expanse.
    A bit closer up, and the individual tiles reveal themselves to be vintage postcards from the first third of the 20th century — black and white photographs overlain with stylized tinted colors, each one (and there are over 500) portraying a distinct slice of idealized Americana. Town squares, mountain highways, recently completed dams, main streets and county seats, lakes and rivers, forests and farmsteads: intimations of a prodigiously gifted country positively breasting its way into a confident future.
Closer up still, though — and you may need to lean in really close to begin making them out — it becomes clear that Mr. Opdyke has layered in a whole series of diminutively painted interventions of his own, and these limn an altogether darker sense of things as they might be several decades on for this land we appear hellbent on leaving to our own children and grandchildren.
    For indeed, up close we can see that in Mr. Opdyke’s fevered vision, the forests are aflame, smoke billowing up from one card into the next, while an orange grove is decimated by freeze. (“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.”) A steamboat lolling up the Mississippi is being swallowed up whole by some sort of invasive new species: a mega-faunapus, if you will. The shimmering wheat fields are desiccated, the once proud threshing machines abandoned. A plague of locusts swells out over another tranche of cards. Giant tornadoes churn through entire sections of the grid up to the left. Frogs are falling out of the sky to the right. Monarch butterflies flit and flutter, probably the last of their kind.

    And then there’s evidence, too, of the human response: a cacophony of cults and cons, panic and denial. Biplanes trail banners urging, “Repent Now!” One insists “Legislative Action Would Be Premature,” while still others veritably beg, “Build the Sea Wall!” All over the place blimps float through the sky, offering seats on The Ark — and indeed, over there to the right, across several cards, an Ark is busily being slapped together. Alcatraz Island has been given over to high-rises, with sale banners advertising “Flood-Proof! Secure Luxury!” — which is to say, a whole different kind of prison.
    Mountain playgrounds promote “Artificial Snow!” Traffic jams coil endlessly off into the distance, a green highway sign advising, “Someplace Safe: 96 miles.” Stadiums have been converted into water reservoirs. And pipes course every which way, binding the entire piece in a web of compounding cross-purposes (fracked oil, water diverted toward the privileged and away from everyone else). Every structure, even the cliffscapes, seems slathered with livid graffiti, and from the lower right rises up a sinister murder of crows. After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
    “This Land” invites and rewards and presently compels close viewing: You get sucked in, and as minutes pass, ever slyer details emerge. Eventually you pull away, and the wider scene reverts to that bird’s eye pastoral sublime. Only now you realize the sun hovering above the distant horizon isn’t slowly rising: it’s fast setting.
    It’s not as though the Queens-based artist just up and started thinking along such apocalyptic lines. He’s been pondering them good and hard, for a long time. Back in 2006, for example, he perpetrated “Prospect,” the bas-relief to end all bas-reliefs, an idyllic sylvan scene (a meadow, a copse of trees) idling atop a wedding cake cross-section of the geological underground, each layer distinct and differentiated, with a thin seam of compressed plastic and metal refuse coursing down below. “The stuff’s positively indestructible,” he noted at the time, “and may well end up being all that’s left to mark our time on this earth.” Tomorrow’s Day Before Yesterday, as it were : a regular laugh riot.
    With his current “This Land,” the polarities get reversed. The product of a year’s concerted effort, and to even more compelling effect, offering up, as it were, Yesterday’s Day After Tomorrow. “I’ve been trawling eBay for years,” Mr. Opdyke commented, as he was recently putting his final touches on the piece, “gathering up vintage postcards like these, often in random batches of hundreds at a time. For a long time I was experimenting with repurposing individual cards — had a whole show of those a few years back — but about a year ago, this current project just swam into view and took over my life.”
    The father of two (a boy, 14, and a girl, 10) with his wife, Kimberlae Saul , who is an architect, Mr. Opdyke noted, “For years I’ve been feeling the need to do something about the dismal future into which we all seem to be sleepwalking. And yet,” he paused before continuing, “I’m constantly haunted by worry. Can such artistic gestures ever really make any difference , especially given the sheer scale of the challenge?”
    Reminded of Auden’s line to the effect that “Art makes nothing happen,” Mr. Opdyke seemed to rally, countering, “Yeah, but Eudora Welty says that ‘Making reality real is art’s responsibility,’ and maybe that’s what most needs doing now: making the stakes involved in our current crisis real and tangibly visible for people. One ends up hoping that pieces like this might propel the urgent changes in vision, one person at a time, necessary to provoke an appropriate mass response.”
     That, at any rate, is the decisive wager for Mr. Opdyke and artists like him.
    “This Land” will be receiving its vernissage later this month as part of a mini-retrospective, “David Opdyke: Paved With Good Intentions,” opening Jan. 25 ( through Feb. 27) at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities in Ann Arbor, where Mr. Opdyke will be in residence as this year’s Efroymson emerging artist. After that, one could easily imagine the piece’s touring the country, dallying in the very sorts of storefronts depicted in its cards, or else in museum or city hall lobbies all around this land, a global warming equivalent of the touring version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Its grid of card tiles would likely need to be lodged behind some sort of protective glass, its throng of viewers reflected, as with the Vietnam memorial, simultaneously in front and behind the scene before them, and thereby directly implicated in the piece’s unsettling unfolding pageant.

    Mr. Opdyke has included a high-resolution image of the piece in its entirety on his website ( into and out of which visitors are invited to zoom and tarry.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Light, glass and stone

A cathedral is as good a place as any to relaunch. This one just happens to be my neighbor:      
Thanks to Susanna at