Chris Smith: Sculpture of late Fezter winemaker Denny Martin now graces his Healdsburg yard

Patrick Amiot sculpture of Denny Martin.


Look there. Denny Martin is back standing in his garden in Healdsburg, holding a glass of wine.

The bearded and beloved former Fetzer Vineyards winemaker was 69 when he died last August after a siege of prostate cancer. His children, Astin Martin Romero and Remy Martin, and some friends swirled and sniffed ideas for a memorial to present to his wife, Carla Filgas.

Inspiration! They commissioned renowned and prolific Sebastopol junk artist Patrick Amiot to create a sculpture of Denny.

“It looks just like him!” Carla said. “It’s like he captured his soul.”

Alongside Kenny is his dog, Dovie. Beneath the feet of the inveterate home gardener is a green tank painted all around with tomato plants.

Carla freshens his glass from time to time with his favorite Roderer Estate bubbly.

THIS SAME CARLA walked out the front door to find, on the porch, the fractured remains of a ceramic bird she’d had in the front yard.

Beside the fragments were two $20 bills and a note:

“I’m truly sorry be leaving you this note, but I accidentally broke your bird. I would like to pay you back.”

She’d bought that bird at a thrift store, for a quarter. She will donate the $40 to an animal welfare organization.

Carla has a delightful, steel Denny standing in the garden, and the most astounding note from a kind someone sorry to have broken a yard trinket.

Go ahead, tell her life isn’t magical.

IN GLEN ELLYN, Illinois, folks’ ears perked up last fall to hear their village mentioned in a newscast about a volunteer firefighter who lost her family home while she was out fighting flames that menaced others.

Quickly, people in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, realized that wasn’t their town in the national news but Glen Ellen, California. The similarity of the towns’ names prompted Glen Ellyn businessman Rob Herbold to look into what was happening in our Glen Ellen.

Heartbreaking online images and accounts of the devastation in Sonoma Valley prompted Herbold, the owner of a print shop, to rally fellow Glen Ellyn merchants to do something to help Glen Ellen.

At Christmas, retailers in the Alliance of Downtown Glen Ellyn encouraged shoppers to “round up” their purchases and donate the surplus to Glen Ellen. Coins and bills for fire relief went into a bucket set out at Glen Ellyn’s photos-with-Santa event.

Just days ago, the fire relief fund of the Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood received a check from Glen Ellyn. For $2,800. Club president Alec Peters mists up to talk about it.

A thank-you gift of Glen Ellen wines will be bound soon for Glen Ellyn.

BLACK PANTHER, TOO: Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas days ago attracted a group of grayed but dogged activists, among them west county’s Elbert “Big Man” Howard.

The former Black Panther Party member and his friends came to see the hit, “Black Panther,” based on the Marvel comic book hero who was created the same year, 1966, as the Oakland political organization.

Spoiler alert: Big Man’s friend Mary Moore of Camp Meeker, a champion of equality all her life, said the film’s bottom line is obvious: “All the races have got to unite.”

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and