ÆRENA Galleries, long a steady presence in Napa, Healdsburg and St. Helena, has wasted no time ingratiating itself to the art lovers of the 94941 since its arrival in 2022 at 53 Throckmorton Ave., a block that includes the Sequoia Theatre and many of the most vibrant retails shops and restaurants in town.

Now the gallery is getting into the holiday season with an array of artists showcasing their work as gifts for loved ones. 

Santa Fe-based Kevin Box‘s sculpture of cranes – birds that convey a message of peace and hope – are perfect for art lovers as gifts or collectibles. “It took two years of tireless experimentation for me to develop the process of casting paper into bronze, another seven years to perfect, and it continues to evolve today,” Box says.

Box pushes the boundaries of traditional metal casting by creating sculptures that are so delicate, detailed, and weightless, that they appear to be made simply of paper. After studying the graphic arts in New York, Box’s practice transformed during a trip to Greece when he decided to transition from graphic art to metal casting – a medium that will withstand the centuries and provide inspiration for generations to come. His exploration of working with metal lead him to study at foundries in Texas for three years, a move that afforded him the freedom of experimentation to grow his skills and eventually open his own studio.

After acquiring a treasure trove of paper found in the warehouse of an old print shop near to the foundry he rented, Box decided to test mixing the two mediums by casting paper in metal. The unique combination of the delicacy of paper with the fortitude of metal creates whimsical, fun, and beautiful pieces with surprising weight, both literally and figuratively. 

Box’s monumental sculptures can be found around the U.S., including the Austin City Symphony, TX and the Four Seasons Hotel, Washington D.C., and internationally including Australia, Morocco, and Japan.

Houston Llew’s beautifully crafted and highly specialized enameled tiles provide a uniquely modern view on the ancient medium of vitreous enamel. Mentored by master enamellist Zingaro, Llew takes the often-abstract medium and applies it to stunningly representational depictions. Utilizing the intrinsic nature of his delicate layers of glass, Llew designs pieces that refract light in beautiful and unexpected ways, almost seeming to glow from within. Llew pairs each image with a carefully selected quote from sources such as poets, ancient philosophers, modern music, or well-known artists to bring the scene to life and create a complete story.

Each elaborate artwork, known as a Spiritile, is created by hand, and employs the golden ratio to create a piece that will be both aesthetically pleasing and inspiring. Llew brings his designs to life by dusting finely ground glass onto copper tiles using hand-crafted stencils and hand sifters, and then heating them in a kiln. Next, Llew creates his signature crazed glaze by rolling a pin over the cooled glass. The distinctly cracked finish transforms the intricate image by creating subtle changes in the light refraction within the glaze. While all the Spiritiles have their own unique stories, they also interact with each other in limitless combinations to gracefully adorn any environment and provide their viewers with daily inspiration.

Surrounded by artistic inspiration from a very early age, Kate Salenfriend learned most of her technical skills from her great-grandfather, Stewart Robertson, the registered California portrait painter. Growing up in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, Salenfriend developed a deep and lasting connection to the land around her, along with a sensitivity to the time of day, season, and atmosphere. The resulting alchemy from her experiences of the California landscape, her solid connection to the environment around her, and her own artistic point of view, gave rise to her first professional work, the now highly-collected series of Cypress trees, “Order from Chaos.”

Completely at home in the Napa Valley, where art and nature abound, Salenfriend’s interpretation of the natural world is complementary to the natural beauty surrounding her. During a trip to Italy, Salenfriend found inspiration in the timeless beauty of the crumbling reliefs of Pompeii, which now inform the sculptural texture and layers of oil paint in each of her works. Salenfriend evokes the glimmering artworks of Austrian symbolist, Gustav Klimt, through the impeccable layers of gold, copper, and silver colored leafing she uses to create her stunning landscapes. The interaction between ambient light and the delicate metal leaf mimic nature’s transitional seasonality, the emotions that confront us when taking in these scenes, and a perpetual sense of motion and progression.

Kate Salenfriend’s works have been collected widely throughout the Napa Valley, including the collections of Darioush winery, Skipstone Ranch, Bouchaine Vineyards, Ehlers Estate, the Robert Modavi tasting room, the Getty Family Trust, in the private collection of Ray and Dagmar Dolby and can be found at Lucille Packard children’s hospital, Vanderbilt University Hospital, the public and private corridors of Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA, as well as being collected internationally.


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