Nimbus Arts is a community-owned 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2005 with the mission of giving the Napa Valley Community access to art. We are dedicated to nurturing curiosity, fostering creative expression, and building a sense of community. In addition to on-site classes and camps, open studios, and lectures, we offer free public events, community service programs, classes in public and private schools, and collaborative art projects throughout Napa County.
When founder Dana Johnson’s young daughter had to spend a week at a children’s hospital, the availability of compelling art projects in the hospital playroom made the days endurable by helping the whole family focus on making something beautiful, allowing them to forget the stress of the situation and giving them a way to connect with one another. After her daughter recovered, Dana wanted to share the transformative experience she had with art and was convinced that creative experiences should be available to everyone: toddlers, children, teens, adults, and elders. This was the inspiration for Nimbus Arts, which Dana founded in 2005 with Jamie Graff.
Jamie Graff, the endlessly energetic and visionary Executive Director for Nimbus Arts, enthusiastically accepted the challenge and set out to create an organization that could deliver innovative, high-quality art classes, camps, community events, and service projects for all ages and skill levels in Napa Valley.
A fundamental philosophy of Nimbus is that art is best taught by practicing artists, who convey their knowledge, experience, and passion as part of the educational process. More than 30 local artists specializing in a wide range of media work as instructors at Nimbus. Foundational art principles and topics are covered in every class and camp. Students at Nimbus develop both artistic skills and confidence through repeated exposure to artistic challenges, and they benefit from learning from artists who are truly passionate about what they do.
From the beginning, Nimbus Arts’ approach to art instruction has been highly creative and interdisciplinary, with classes and camps that often explore and celebrate environmental, cultural, scientific or historical themes. Nimbus Arts got its name from Cloud Camp, the first summer camp we offered, where the campers, working with professional artists and a scientist, studied cloud formation and meteorology, drew, painted and sculpted clouds, and ended the week by each creating a cloud sculpture bigger than they were. This hands-on, integrated exploration of a topic through art proved to be an ideal formula, and is still our model today.