The di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is bringing its beloved metal sheep out of quarantine in time to help kids go to summer camp.

The art center, recognized for its whimsical statues and sculptures from the di Rosa family collection, launched the “name the sheep” contest on May 28 to fundraise student scholarships for Camp di Rosa: Art + Nature — the program’s first-ever art summer camp.

At Camp di Rosa, kids will have the unique opportunity to learn about both nature and art through hands-on programming.

“This has been a hard year, especially for students. Every year, hundreds of students tour di Rosa from all the local schools, and none came in 2020,” said Laura Zimmerman, the nonprofit’s director of development. “Our overall feeling was that these kids had missed out on so much. And as we return to normal and the kids go on summer break, the idea was: How can we help?”

According to director Andrea Williams, the solution was to offer kids a respite from a year of remote learning through a summer camp where they can get their hands dirty, make art and probe nature among the low-lying hills of the Carneros AVA. 

Williams, who oversees di Rosa’s education and public initiatives, stated the weekday program opens on July 19 and runs for two weeks. Campers can admire artwork in the outdoor and indoor galleries, practice archery, play other field games and make crafts during studio time.

“Kids will learn to look at nature through a creative lens and a look at art from a naturalistic lens,” Williams said.

But to ensure anyone can attend, the organization needs earned income to offset scholarships for children of families who are unable to pay the program’s fees. Napa Community Foundation contributed a $1,500 grant for the school year to help launch the camp, but the center is striving to hit $5,000 in donations.

That’s where the sheep come in. 

The sheep, crafted out of metal sheets and painted with automobile enamel by Veronica di Rosa, were tucked away in 2017 after decades of exposure to the natural elements. The locals felt the faux animals’ absence right away. 

“They were a local icon,” Zimmerman said. “Someone could give directions and be like, ‘You’ll pass the place with the sheep, then take a turn in a mile’ sorta thing.”

The sheep rejoin other contemporary works like Mark di Suvero’s “For Veronica” on di Rosa’s property, including installations in the sculpture meadow.

After the sheep were restored and reintroduced into the sculpture meadow this spring, executive director Kate Eilersten noticed the obstructed view of them from the road. The di Rosa team started brainstorming ways to raise awareness of the sheep’s return around the same time families started to seek financial assistance for the camp.  

The idea for the sheep naming competition clicked in Zimmerman’s head.

Locals can vie to name one of the art sheep and help send local kids to summer camp by submitting donations with name entries into an online portal — a $50 entry fee for the chance to name the handful of white sheep and a $100 entry fee to name the sole black sheep on the property. 

“Our motivation is to help kids have art this summer. Plain and simple,” said Zimmerman. “The more people who join the contest or make a donation, the more kids will be able to attend art camp.” 

To make a donation and for a chance to win sheep naming rights, visit di Rosa’s contest page. Contest end at midnight on June 7, 2021.

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