Paradise Ridge Winery reopens sculpture grove with ‘Resilience’ exhibit
Marijke’s Grove, the hilltop sculpture garden at the Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, has a history flavored with both tragedy and triumph. But on Saturday, it will begin a hopeful new chapter with a new, two-year exhibit of eight pieces, aptly titled “Resilience.”
The winery was among the more than 5,000 structures destroyed in the Santa Rosa area in the Oct. 8, 2017, Tubbs fire, and the estimated cost of lost winery buildings came to about $15 million. The rebuilt winery reopened last December but was forced to close in March due to coronavirus concerns.
Last week, on June 12, it opened again along with other wineries across the county as a new public health order took effect allowing wineries to operate tasting rooms without having to also serve food. This weekend marks the official reopening of the sculpture grove at Paradise Ridge.
“This whole exhibit is about the amazing spirit most artists have,” said Kate Eielertsen, the exhibit’s curator.
“They don’t let anything stop them. They always come back with something fresh and a new way of seeing things.”
The 4-acre exhibit area is named for Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars, originally from the Netherlands, who was struck by a car and killed in 2006 on Old Redwood Highway.
She and her husband, Walter Byck, who had his 88th birthday Monday, founded the winery in 1994 and began their annual “Sculpturegrove” exhibits the following year.
The winery is now run by the founders’ daughter, Sonia Byck-Barwick, and son, Rene Byck.
All 10 pieces in the sculpture garden’s most recent previous show, “Geometric Relflections,” which opened in 2016, survived the fire and have been moved to other locations, except for “Catalyst” by Riis Burwell, which remains in the sculpture grove.
The artist, whose Santa Rosa studio was destroyed in fire, also has two other pieces in the new show: “Survivor 1” and “Survivor 2.”
“Over the years, it’s been such a pleasure to show at Paradise Ridge,” Burwell said.
“Now it seems even more meaningful considering all that we’ve been through in this county.”
The new exhibit also includes work by four other artists: Briona Hendren of Sebastopol, Sean Paul Lorentz of Petaluma, Nick Taylor of Fort Bragg and Doug Unkrey of Geyserville.
Unkrey was in the news two years ago when his redwood and metal sculpture, “The Hammer,” was stolen from the front lawn of the Healdsburg Community Center. The 6-foot-tall hammer head was later recovered and a replacement made for the still missing 21-foot-long redwood handle, and the piece was re-installed last year in Healdsburg.
For the Paradise Ridge show, Unkrey created a new steel sculpture titled “Regatta,” which seems to sail across the landscape, Eilertsen said.
The show’s resilience theme is carried out by the various entries. For this exhibition, Taylor created two pieces, “Cosmo” and “Buster,” from reworked petroleum tanks that were discarded after the fires in 2017.
Hendren created a steel sculpture coated with house paint, titled “Head Space.” Lorentz’s “Blue Steel,” 8 feet tall, seems to sprout wings.
Overseen since 2006 by the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation - a Geyserville-based nonprofit that promotes public sculpture throughout Sonoma County - the sculpture grove normally rotates exhibits every two years. But the fires disrupted that schedule, Eilertsen said.
“The sculptures from the previous show just sat there and were seen by nobody but the people working at the winery after it reopened,” she said.
One well-known piece has been on the winery property since 2013 but is not part of the new sculpture grove show: “LOVE,” with massive metal letters spelling out the word, by Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg.
“Soon after the fires, the ‘LOVE’ sculpture became a symbol of resilience and fortitude for our community, including families who had lost their homes,” Byck-Barwick said.
“Knowing that art had such power to inspire and give people hope made our path to recovery more meaningful.”
Eilertseen hopes the “Resilience” exhibition will continue the healing process.
“With all the negative stuff in the world, people get out of the house under the right conditions, with social distancing, and go see beautiful artwork,” she said.
“Isn’t that what people need right now? People are so hungry to get out and see something that’s not about the pandemic.”
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.