RAD Napa tells a story about Napa without saying a word. What is RAD Napa? It’s short for the Rail Arts District and is Napa Valley’s first dedicated art district. It’s transforming a semi-industrial stretch of the city into a contemporary cultural corridor.
This project started when citizens, business leaders, city officials and artists came together to make change. Knowing the positive effect street art can have on a community, this group wanted to create something totally unique and truly Napan.
For years there has been rise in street art across the globe. And one of the most significant effects is the change in the public’s perception. Street art has not always been clearly defined but has become an accepted art form and increasingly embraced.
In addition to being an increasingly accepted art form, the rise in street art is also changing communities. More and more cities are adding graffiti to their plain stucco walls. This art pumps life and pride into a community. And by taking art to the streets, communities can tell their stories in a unique way.
Street art is most common in cities where it transforms far from scenic buildings into works of art. But it can also transform the country side with projects like the Remote Silo Art trail where painted silos offer a unique Australian road trip.
Whether in an urban area or country town, the positive effects street art can have on a community are huge. Knowing these positive effects, Napa has fully embraced this art form and is well on the way to creating a world-renowned cultural corridor.
RAD Napa’s Inspiration
The idea for RAD Napa started when the Arts Council Napa Valley wanted to improve the Vine Trail’s user experience. After partnering with the Napa Valley Wine Train, the Rail Arts District was formally launched in January 2017.
What was the inspiration behind this idea? There are three destinations that inspired RAD Napa. First is the Wynwood Walls Miami. The second is the SODO Track in Seattle. And finally, the High Line in New York City.
Known as one of Miami’s most happening districts, Wynwood Walls is an outdoor museum showcasing large-scale works by the world’s best-known street artists. In addition, the surrounding neighborhood has converted warehouses into craft breweries and funky art galleries. The once forgotten industrial area of Wynwood, has became one of the world’s largest outdoor street museum. It now attracts up to 15,000 people per day.
The SODO Track has transformed a two-mile transit corridor in Seattle into an imaginative raceway. This urban art gallery is the first to commission over 60 artists from 20 countries to explore one theme. Over three summers, street artist from all over the world produced over 50 murals exploring motion, speed and progress. Their diverse backgrounds come together to connect the local to global in one creative experiment.
The High Line in New York City is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. Saved from demolition by neighborhood residents, the High Line is a public space where you can view art, walk through gardens, experience a performance, and savor delicious food. The High Line is now one, continuous, 1.45-mile-long greenway featuring 500+ species of plants and trees and home to world-class artwork.
RAD Napa’s Vision
The vision is to transform a far-from-scenic route in Napa pulse with new energy, awe-inspiring sights, thriving businesses and meaningful dialogue. With plenty of inspiration to draw from, RAD Napa plans to create a two-mile long outdoor art gallery where the Napa Valley Vine Trail and Napa Valley Wine Train meet.
RAD Napa will eventually include over 130 art installations. In addition, there will be urban greenscapes and parks to create outdoor spaces for people to gather, appreciate art and learn about local terroir. As seen in other cities, RAD Napa believes when art becomes part of the fabric of a community, every citizen has the opportunity to see new possibilities and create a better future for all.
RAD Napa Today
After installing the first mural in 2017, the outdoor gallery has grown to 12 murals and 12 railroad utility box wraps. Working with ThinkSpace, RAD Napa has curated world renowned street artist. The installations are part of a growing group of local and internationally recognized artists.
The first mural added to the district is called “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Natalia Rak and Bezt. This gorgeous mural is their first collaborative effort on the same wall. The piece is about finding beauty and never giving up hope. The artists captured a unique glow that is sure to ignite the imagination of those who see it.
Shortly after the first mural, Felipe Pantone created the second installation. “Chromadynamica” is a vivid mural featuring a geometric wave pattern. This vibrant piece is meant to change based on the observer’s point of view. It is a dynamic experience for those who were already in movement inside the Napa Valley Wine Train.
And these first two murals were just the start. Since then, there have been ten murals added. These murals range from tributes to the fire fighters of the 2017 wildfires to Napa native ELLE’s dedication to her hometown. Each tells a story of how the artist interprets Napa’s culture.
In addition to the murals, RAD Napa also created a Utility Box Project. Local and regional artists submitted their ideas for art “wraps” for the railroad signal boxes. 12 artists were selected, and their work in currently displayed on boxes along the Vine Trail between California Blvd. and the Wine Train Depot.
RAD Napa’s Future
As RAD Napa continues to grow, it will continue to bring in top talent to create a world-renowned cultural corridor. The next round of installations are planned for late 2021. In addition, RAD Napa plans to develop urban greenscapes and parks. This includes edible gardens, pollinator habitats, greenbelt features and other spaces for the community to gather.
RAD Napa Experience
Now that you know about RAD Napa, you probably want to know how to view the art. There are a few ways to experience this new cultural corridor.
First, you can join Paper Napan on a RAD Napa Walkabout to experience the art district. On this guided walking tour, guests will get insights about the artwork beyond what you can read about. As well as indulge in world class wine and craft beer at neighborhood gems.
Second, you can experience the artwork while riding on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Here, customers can enjoy the view as they start their journey up valley on the train.
You can also view the artwork at your own pace. Guests can walk, run, or bike along the Vine Trail to experience the cultural corridor on their own.
However you experience RAD Napa, you are sure to enjoy this emerging art district and learn a thing or two about Napa’s culture.