Monika Steele Barrack Uncorks Wine Country Art
Wine Tails and Whimsy
Renowned artist Monika Steele Barrack lives in the wine country of Northern California, where she concentrates on her paintings and artwork. Much of her inspiration comes from her observations and experiences living in Sonoma County where characters and situations are charmingly reproduced on canvas and paper. Her whimsical style has a narrative quality often displaying eccentric characters in humorous situations celebrating California's wine and food culture.
In this world of wine and wags, everyone lives the "Good Life". What’s their recipe, and Monika's? It's all about the ingredients: art, wine, food, flowers, and happy times with family and friends.
Getting her first professional job in San Francisco, with Jessica McClintock, the famous clothing designer for “Gunne Sax,” was like a dream come true for Monika.
One of Jessica’s “Prairie Girls,” Monika assisted in the design room. She turned fashion sketches into the beautifully romantic prairie dresses that every woman coveted.
Combining patterned fabrics together came naturally to her. After all, she was experienced already. As a girl she had helped her grandmother, a quilt maker, piece together patchwork quilts.
Monika now combines patterns on canvas and paper. Crazy quilt-like patterns tattoo Cypress trees. These tower over brightly striped vineyards, and are the backdrops for her gently humorous characters who wear checked blazers and polka-dot scarves.
What does Monika have in common with Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Giorgio Armani, Cartier, and Vera Wang? She designed clothes to dress toy mice for Helpers Home Bazaar in San Francisco.
If you visit the Helpers store in Ghirardelli Square, you can see some of the most beautifully dressed stuffed mice in… well, the world.
She appreciated the opportunity to be Helper's Homes Bazaar art director, designing and teaching in a workshop setting which helped developmentally disabled adults learn how to live productive lives in society.
Back then, she designed evening gowns for stuffed mice; now she paints dogs riding bicycles and dressed like chefs.