A Solo Exhibition by Jonah Ward

Artists’ Reception Saturday, June 24th, 4:00–7:00 pm

Sofie Contemporary Arts is burning - at least it smells like fire and that can be disturbing - especially if you're from somewhere near the Napa Valley or any number of other California places with recent wildfire trauma. Although North Bay artist Jonah Ward understands this impulse, as one who utilizes a form of pyrography, he thinks a little differently about it... 

Sofie Contemporary Arts is delighted to announce its new exhibition, Emergence: A solo exhibition by Jonah Ward. Please join us for an Artist's Reception held on Saturday, June 24, from 4:00 - 7:00 pm; there will be light refreshments served and wines by Clif Family Winery, presented by winemaker, Laura Barrett. The exhibition runs through Sept. 24, 2023.

PLEASE JOIN US SATURDAY, JUNE 24th, 4:00 - 7;00 pm!

Emergence is an exploration of humankind's complicated relationship with the natural world, the implications this brings and potential transformations it can inspire. The exhibition includes the most extensive group of large-scale works by Ward so far, all essentially created by "drawing" with 2100 ° F glass on different types of wood, often milled by Ward from his family farm in Northern California. The artist develops his imagery by allowing the molten glass to singe the panels while he uses a wide span of techniques, such as pouring, dripping, dragging and varying the length of contact time before removing the glass. Ward also incorporates a combination of other materials and processes in his work, both intentional and naturally-occurring, including flowing water, air movement, enhanced lighting, leaves, branches, bees' wax and paper from wasp nests.

When entering, visitors first walk into the main gallery between two window installations of illuminated paper, stumps, glass and forest duff and are immediately immersed in the unmistakable smell of fire from the charred wooden panels; at first this can be unsettling but also evokes the rich scents and muted pigments of the forest. Visitors continue through the first gallery into an immersive installation (partially drawn from an exhibition by the artist at the Pala Alto Art Center in 2022) and then into a third small gallery of more intimate pieces that eventually leads to an outdoor terrace. 

Literally born on a mountaintop, off the grid at the end of a long dirt road in Northern California, the artist is entwined with the natural world in such a way that it is not quite possible to separate him from his art works or from his sense of place, and this is vividly evident in his newest collection of works at Sofie Contemporary. Emergence is defined as the universal process of coming into view or "becoming exposed after being concealed" and Ward sees his art-making akin to this. By carefully coaxing out the dangerous powers of molten glass and fire, he reveals something that has yet to be seen, thus producing the intense seared and scorched imagery.  

Jonah Ward has grown his artistic life out of nature's bounty and fertility while simultaneously exposing its coexisting trauma and recovery. His relationship with the earth is palpable and emits a kind of urgent message that we all instinctively understand and are transfixed by, although we often deny its importance. "Fire is a powerful cleansing force," says Ward. "Most living things not only benefit from it, but need it to thrive, keep vital, and to regenerate. I think we need to reconsider some of our assumptions. Instead of always focusing on the goal of suppress, suppress, suppress - not only fires but with so much else - when it's all boiling up and over anyhow. We need to realign our ways to be in more sync with the environment.

Educated as a glassmaker, Ward began the practice in high school after being mentored by a glass lampworker in Ft. Bragg, CA. He continued on to a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in glass at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He has exhibited widely, including previously at Sofie Contemporary Arts, and has been featured in various design and art publications. His work is also included in many private collections and public venues throughout the US and internationally.  

"Part of what I appreciate about Jonah's work is his fierce determination to create an experience for the viewer," Jan Sofie, gallery director and curator says. "He not only wants to bring you into the forest but bring the forest to you. He has a serious intent and purpose in communicating how we need to more readily understand and appreciate the earth's powerful and beautiful natural forces and I think his work does that."

1407 Lincoln Ave., PO Box 185

Calistoga CA 94515

Typical Hours: Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 to 6:00 pm, or by Arrangement.

Phone: 707.942.4231, 707.331.4770


scott@sofiegallery.com Scott Sofie, gallery manager

jan@sofiegallery.com Jan Sofie, gallery director

About the Gallery: Sofie Contemporary Arts exhibits inventive contemporary works created by artists at diverse stages of their careers, in a wide range of media, including new and experimental media. Content and concept, along with mastery and exploration of materials and technique are emphasized. Many approaches and genres are considered, but all work is connected to California in some way and often focused on artists of the nearby region.

Hope you will join us for the Emergence Artist's Reception

Saturday, June 24th from 4:00 to 7:00 pm

Sofie Contemporary Arts is pleased to announce that the gallery has just been named "Best Art Gallery in Napa County, 2023" for the third consecutive year by the North Bay Bohemian in their "Best of the North Bay" awards. A sincere thank you to all of those who helped to make this happen; we greatly appreciate your support!

Photo Captions


Burnt Panel Multiple No.15 Glass burned wood

Jonah Ward

84” x 95”



Burnt Panel Triptych No. 27 Glass burned wood

Jonah Ward

84” x 108”



Jonah with Burnt Panel Multiple No. 8 (left) and one of his hanging, paper tree sculptures (right)


Jonah in the glass hot shop creating one of his glass burned panels where he uses molten glass to burn abstract lines onto wood.


Jonah with Burning Water No. 7 - Mixed media, burned paper with pigment, 2023, 78” x 48” x 6.5”


Glass Specimens

Glass on wood

Jonah Ward

48” x 48"

2017 & 2022

Sofie Contemporary Arts | 1407 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA | 707-942-4231 | www.sofiegallery.com


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