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Prankish Napa Artist Returns with New "Mixed Media" Project

Has the Napa Valley Register building been acquired by the city as a piece of public art? Anything's possible in the quirky world of the local artist known as Porous Walker.

Do you remember the historical-looking exhibition that was installed last year in one of the First Street windows of the county office building that used to be the Carithers department store?

It included the city of Napa's "first traffic camera," made of old lumber and glass; a towering effigy of Ma Berenstain Bear, with a descriptive panel detailing the children's-book character's early life here; and exhibits celebrating the inventions in Napa of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the thumb's-up sign, Peet's Coffee & Tea and more.

The elaborate display drew laughs from locals and bemused responses from visitors: "I didn't know Ma Berenstain Bear was from Napa," said one of my smartest friends from out of town.

Well, she's not: The entire window full of "Napa History" was the creation of a pair of artists taking part in the Art on First series: Jimmy DiMarcellis, who uses the name Porous Walker, and David Hopp.

Their artists' statement for the work, published on the website, reads

David Hopp and Jimmy DiMarcellis have been collecting and displaying Historical information for the last 150 years. The duo has had their artworks displayed in magazines, galleries and museums around the world. The Fictitious Napa Historical Museum exhibit features actual historical items that were discovered around Napa County and in the minds of the two artists. The exhibition is designed to inspire laughter and imaginations.

The two even published a booklet with more fun fictions and illustrations, including an entry about the "Napa Waterfall Society (which) was founded in 1919 and over the summer built a working waterfall where In-N-Out Burger now stands. The waterfall was replaced by In-N-Out Burger in 1943." 

The "historical" window display has been replaced by another artist's work in the 2012 Art on First series, but Porous Walker is back with a new project in which he is relabeling various Napa landmarks as his own creations.

His friend and fellow prankster Dan Graham, a Napa bookstore manager, musician and funnyman who last year staged a completely fictitious book reading complete with made-up text from made-up writers portrayed by actors at Slack Collective, passes on a photo of the building at 1615 Second Street adorned with a label reading:

Napa Valley Register 

by Porous Walker

Mixed Media

(Collection of the City of Napa)

Have you seen any of these labels around town? Let us know in the comments. Better yet, share a photo!

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m nelson August 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I don't know if this is the same, but across from Downtown Joe is a heart shaped sign that says "Old People" and a week or so ago there were 7 individual sign on the south side of the Lincoln Overpass off ramp that spelled out "you tube." They're gone now.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) August 28, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Interesting observations. Thank you. Is there an ephemeral-art movement in Napa? I welcome more comments from people who notice random acts of expression around the town and county. Photos, too, if you like.
Kristina Young August 29, 2012 at 12:49 AM
I am proud to say that I am a part of an ongoing Porous Walker installation entitled, "Art Gallery", mixed media 2012. 10% off for the first customer who mentions this AND knows where this was taken.
Paul Marotta August 29, 2012 at 10:36 PM
it's odd that when some people deface buildings - if temporarily - and then call it art, we all marvel and laugh and applaud. But in Napa, colored chalk on sidewalks is considered vandalism and the art of many of our residents is called graffiti and carries with it legal penalties.
Belle (Orchid Lady) August 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Paul- very ironic :')
JNELSON September 08, 2012 at 12:55 AM
i have noticed a heart shaped sign on the corner of 12 and cuttings wharf "doing chores", i have also seen a heart on imola "chasing rainbows", i cant remeber where i saw one that said "i love fat" and today i saw a sign by valleragas for "wild hot dog" crossing =)

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