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who we are

who we are

our mission

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 fostering creative expression, nurturing curiosity, innovating through collaboration, 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.

how we began

From the beginning, the Nimbus Arts approach to art instruction has been highly creative and interdisciplinary, with classes and camps that explore and celebrate artistic, environmental, cultural, scientific, or historical themes.

Nimbus Arts got its name from “Cloud Camp,” the first summer camp we offered. Campers, working with professional artists and a scientist, studied cloud formation and meteorology, then drew, painted, and sculpted clouds, ending the week with each camper creating a cloud sculpture bigger than themselves. This hands-on, integrated exploration of a topic through art proved to be an ideal formula, and is still our model today.

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 40 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 true artistic skill and confidence through repeated exposure to artistic challenges, and they benefit from learning from artists who are truly passionate about what they do.

Nimbus is now an important community asset and nationally recognized art education organization, but that wasn’t always the case. The creation of Nimbus Arts was inspired by the experiences of the co-founder, Dana Johnson, and her family. As Dana’s young daughter was being treated at UCSF Childrens’ Hospital, the hospital offered art activities to the patients and their families. They experienced firsthand the joy, strength and sense of community that can be gained through artistic expression, and wanted to offer that to a wider audience.

Dana joined forces with fellow Napa Valley residents Jamie Graff and Janet Pagano, Executive Director of The Cantus Fund. Together they developed a plan for a community-serving art center that would make art accessible and available to children, adults, and seniors from all constituencies across the Napa Valley. Jamie agreed to become Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, and Nimbus Arts was launched in 2005.

Dana and Jamie have been joined by hundreds of artists, patrons and supporters over the past decade to transform Nimbus Arts into a vibrant and important community asset that has educated, delighted and inspired thousands of Napa Valley residents and visitors.

Nimbus Arts continues to strengthen art throughout the community by creating opportunities and community for working artists. Dozens of local artists have joined Nimbus as freelance art instructors, sharing their skill and knowledge with students while earning income. Others earn income through the sale of their art at NIMBASH and other community events. Elevating the art profile of the Napa Valley through Nimbus classes, camps, workshops, and events also serves to connect locals and visitors with our Napa Valley artist community, deepening both social and economic connections.

Now in our second decade, the vision and mission of Nimbus Arts remain unchanged: to ignite artistic expression across the Napa Valley and make art accessible and available to all members of our community.

we believe

  • Art inspires and enriches lives.
  • Art should be available to everyone.
  • Artists are vital to our community.
  • Collaboration with other organizations improves outcomes and makes us stronger.
  • It is essential to reach the underserved community
  • A multi-disciplinary approach to art promotes curiosity and learning.
  • Art brings people together.
  • Championing cultural equity fosters a more inclusive and connected community.
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