This summer, one man’s art studio became another man’s lifeline.
Gordon Huether has been making sculptures in Napa for 33 years, the last 12 in a studio on Monticello Road, northeast of the city. But for two months, a place devoted to art creation doubled up, after Huether gifted the site to a barber who had become one of millions of people made redundant after shelter-at-home orders triggered. by the coronavirus pandemic have caused shutdowns in many industries – including hair care establishments in California.
A covered studio patio has become an outdoor – and therefore legal – barbershop for Giancarlo Fradella to ply his trade, allowing him to continue supporting his wife and two children while COVID-19 has been suspended her regular job at a Napa barber shop.
“It was a godsend,” said Fradella, a hairstylist for nine years. “The idea that came to me to reach out to Gordon was perfect. Him as an artist, being able to see my passion in my job, it really meant a lot to me.
“Now I’d like to take everything I’ve learned from Gordon and pass it on to other people. … I gave hairstyles to homeless people, fire victims, 150 hairstyles to Napa firefighters and the sheriff’s office. I offered 20 free haircuts to the Queen’s medical staff.
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Since moving his studio to Monticello Road in 2008, Huether has offered the building for after-hours use for a variety of uses, including Napa Valley Opera Board meetings and gatherings. from the Napa Valley Flea Jumpers ukulele group. No off-peak visitor, however, was quite like the one who would settle in temporarily during the summer.
An independent contractor cutting his hair in the executive room, Fradella had his job closed for more than two months by a stay-at-home order issued by California and Napa County on March 20. After a one-month reprieve, a second order required hair salons and barbershops to move their work outside, launching what was initially an unsuccessful search for Fradella.
“It was frustrating, it was confusing and it was stressful,” he said. “Working downtown for so long, I know a lot of local businesses and building owners, so I literally walked around in circles racking my brains for who to talk to, who would let me work on a roof, in the back of a workshop, anywhere. that I would be working on the outside side of things – and I was running out.
In July, running out of options, Fradella cold called Huether – well known internationally for his sculptural art and locally as a town planning commissioner, but known to Fradella only through the artist’s daughter.
“He was having a hard time trying to find a place to run his business, so I was super happy to be able to help him,” Huether recalls. “He couldn’t work indoors, which was a big fat problem, so I thought, where can he work outside? I said, ‘I’m happy to help; why don’t you come and see where we can install you? It was obvious to me.
Visiting the Gordon Huether Studio the next day, Fradella found a covered outdoor space he could set up in for free. By outfitting the patio with a barber chair, full length mirror, tool post and power cord going into the studio building, he worked in the outdoor barbershop improvised before heading back to the executive room in September – keeping a busy schedule even on the 100 -degree-days that require him and his visitors to arrive as early as 6 a.m. or to persist in streaming sweats. Only an evacuation triggered by smoke from the Hennessey fire in August interrupted his work.
The only payments Huether accepted from Fradella were his thanks and “a nice big lasagna dinner” sent by the barber’s wife, according to Fradella.
“Closed mouths are not fed; if I had been afraid to ask, I would not have had a place to support my family, ”he said. “Sometimes you have to put the fear aside and humble yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask and speak.
“I learned what I already knew, but what I have to remember sometimes: that you get more by giving than by receiving,” said Huether. “I see that I have a new friend that I didn’t have before. If it hadn’t been for this pandemic, this opportunity to lend a hand, I wouldn’t know it. “
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You can reach Howard Yune at 530-763-2266 or [email protected]