Memory of a Tree – The Yountville Mural

May 24, 2017

There really isn’t anything better than driving on Hwy 29 through Napa and entering Yountville (what we call Up Valley in wine country). With Domain Chandon on the left and the quaint town of iconic food and wine on the right, it truly might be heaven. On a recent trip, we knew we needed to make a pit stop, not for Bouchon’s nutter butter cookies, but to see a new magical mural gracing the entrance of Yountville.

LC Studio Tutto is an art and design team composed of Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel. The duo works collaboratively to create large-scale public art—you might have seen their “Bright Underbelly” shining over Sacramento’s downtown farmer’s market– infusing spaces with life and identity to encourage a connection between people and their environments. We wanted to know more about the process, here is Meghan’s interview with Sofia and Hennessy:

What was the process that brought you to Yountville?

We were awarded the Yountville Mural Underpass Project through a national call for artists. We contracted with the Town of Yountville and Caltrans. For this project, we presented three mockups and asked the town to vote for their favorite design – they chose Memory of a Tree.

This is a big job, how long have you been working on it and painting it

We applied for the project in October of 2015, went through months of design conceptualization and community engagement, and we just completed the month for fabrication (April 20 – May 20).

What was your inspiration for Memory of a Tree?

We wanted to create a design that was inspired by the Valley Oak, a native species that blanketed the Napa Valley before vineyards were cultivated. Hennessy’s father used to work in the fields of Yountville with his dad, and admired the beauty of the same oaks that we appreciated on our stay in Yountville this past month. An oak’s life can span generations and tie us to the past. In this time, many things are disposable and fleeting. In contrast, I love how enduring the oak is – we are inspired by this symbol of strength through the passing of time. Rich blues and red earth tones of the painting capture the golden light and contrasting soft shadows of the Napa Valley. The tunnel structure provides refuge from the overhead sun, so we wanted the design to integrate cool, layered tones.

Tell us some of your favorite moments of being outside and painting this gorgeous piece.

Painting in the bright golden ‘light’ lines over the deep blue hues, Glazing red-iron oxide over the wild flower fields in the painting. Ice-cream delivery at 10am from one of our ‘grandpas’ over at the Veterans Home down the street. Experiencing a sea of bikes zooming through the tunnel all shouting encouraging remarks, flooding over us like a positive wave. Watching the cliff swallows gracefully dive in and out of their little adobe-like nests under the 29. Engaging in fulfilling daily conversations about art, music, travel, with the residents of Yountville. I had a particularly wonderful talk with an art restorer passing through on his bike from Napa, about restoring the Sistine Chapel. He was an art restorer for years in Italy.



Photos by Stephanie Russo