A woman leaps in front of a modern mural.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Railway Arts District

December 19, 2018
Arts & Culture

#1: Not So New

Even though the first mural was just unveiled last year, the Rail Arts District Napa (RAD Napa) was launched in 2015 when Napa Valley Wine Train, the Napa Valley Vine Trail Arts, Culture and Education Committee, and a passionate group from the local arts community met to conceive the idea and begin working towards their first fundraising goal of $100,000.

#2:  Community Minded

While the stunning murals created by renowned artists from the region and throughout the world are certainly the most impressive part of RAD Napa, at its heart, the Rail Arts District is about community. From its outset, the district was created to celebrate Napa Valley and engage its residents, visitors, and local entrepreneurs, and inspire everyone through the power of public art.

#3: First of Its Kind

The Rail Arts District is the first art district in the Napa Valley. Inspired by the Wynwood Walls Arts District in Miami, the dedicated committee behind RAD Napa believes that public art can affect positive change and is essential to a thriving community.

#4: More Than Murals

The Rail Arts District may have gotten its start with massive murals, but it’s not the only plan for the area! As the Master Plan comes together, the team behind the RAD is creating a vibrant cultural center with a diverse selection of art including utility boxes wrapped in art by local and regional artists, creative gateways, crosswalk continuations, landscaping and sculpture that will not only draw people to downtown Napa, but also encourage outdoor wellness and alternative transportation.

A major installation titled the Napa Quake Mosaic is also in progress. This community-driven project lead by Napa artist Kristina Young, will result in a large-scale mosaic mounted on the side of a train car. The mosaic is made with household items broken in the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the region in August 2014. The resulting image is a core sample of the earth.

#5: Big Scale, Bigger Vision

The first mural finished on the Napa Valley Wine Train line is called Knocking On Heaven’s Door. This massive 152-foot by 30-foot mural was unveiled on January 31, 2017. Created by internationally recognized Polish artists Bezt, of Etam Cru, and Natalia Rak, the artwork spans the back the Napa Valley Register building. The mural is about finding light in the darkness, beauty in your surroundings, and hope in the world.

#6: Behind the Scenes

What makes RAD Napa unique is that all of the art planned for the 2-mile stretch of the Napa Valley Vine Trail are planned for the back of prominent downtown Napa buildings and along the trail. It’s a vibrant secret transforming the back alleys and dull facades of a part of the community few think about. What does this mean? It means you get to seek it out. One of the best ways to view the impressive large-scale artworks is from the Wine Train, of course! Your journey travels through this growing cultural landmark, so make sure you put down your wine glass and peer out the window—some murals are just a few feet away from the rails!

#7: Constantly Evolving

The Rail Art District of Napa already has nine provocative, eye-catching, vibrant murals, but did you know that there are plans to complete over 100? That’s a lot of art! Not only that, RAD Napa already has several locations scouted for sculptures, gateways, and other types of art installations. Every time you come back to visit, there will likely be something exciting and new to see. It’s a constantly evolving outdoor museum!

#8: A Lot of Paint

Chromadynamica, the second mural unveiled in the Rail Arts District, was completed on March 18, 2017. Argentinian/Spanish street artist Felipe Pantone traveled from Spain to paint a geometric wave pattern that’s an op-art meditation on life in the digital age—and used over 300 cans of spray paint in the process.

#9: Dedicated Artists

Barcelona artist Cinta Vidal completed her mural, Floating Napa in April 2017. The surreal artwork depicting houses found in Napa suspended in mid-air was painted by Vidal and her assistant Helena Salvador, the two of them working 10-hour days to finish the magical piece.

The Rolling Portrait of a Firefighter is another of Australian artist’s Fintan Magee’s expressions of his political and social viewpoints. Dedicated to firefighters that have died in the line of duty, especially during the October 2017 California wildfires, the mural consists of 14 portraits of firefighter Cody Zetlmaier holding a co-worker’s helmet as a single flower grows from it and makes subtle reference to the impacts of climate change. As you pass the wall on the Wine Train, the work animates, giving the portrait life and movement.

#10: You Can Help

As you can tell, the passionate people behind The Rail Arts District have big dreams. You can help make those dreams a reality by volunteering, sponsoring a mural, or making a donation. Additionally, the Napa Valley Wine Train, adds an optional $1 donation per guest so you can do your part while enjoying delicious wine and fine dining.