Inside Napa Valley, Winter/Spring 2021

Page 14


Noble One Horse Lover, by Jessel Miller Jessel Miller

Giving back and paying it


“What is charity? Charity is the act of giving help to those in need of it. It is a humanitarian act. It involves giving money, goods, or time and effort to those who need it.” – Jessel Miller The year 2020 is gone, and suffice it to say, no one is unhappy about that. Here in the Napa Valley, 2020 hit harder than in other places because not only did a pandemic require the closure and restriction of businesses, but two of the biggest and most destructive wildfires in Napa history ravaged the area. To say that the people of Napa Valley are resilient would be an understatement. There were also cultural upheavals in 2020 that battered and bruised many communities adding to the chaos. We watched natural disasters threaten wildlife worldSubmitted photo wide; we witnessed millions of animals suffering and dying in the Australian outback, thousands of fish washing up on shores around the world, and birds falling from the sky. It was a year. And the pandemic added an element that the world has not seen since World War II—a global crisis that indirectly pulled the planet together. One local woman, the iconic Jessel Miller of The Jessel Gallery, acutely felt the impact of these issues and did something about it. “Throughout my history in the Napa Valley, I have celebrated the area’s exquisite beauty, painting images that spotlight the unique tapestry woven into the countryside,” Jessel explained. “This valley has supported me and my gallery and artists for years, and I want to give back to the community.” Jessel started her career as a portrait artist, and in 1982, she had her first major exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. That exhibit focused on the faces of 25 well-known Bay Area personalities. She painted Maya Angelou, Herb Caen, and Dianne Feinstein, to name a few. Then she put portraiture away and opened the Jessel Gallery in 1984. On top of running and maintaining the oldest gallery in the Napa Valley for over 35 years, Jessel has thrown herself into many charitable causes. Perhaps


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