Local Artist Takes Flight at Estate Coffee

The artist and his work
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By GABRIELLA BOCK | Contributing Writer

Mark Cappellano is no stranger to trying new things.

The once Napa Valley vintner has traveled to the Congo Basin, managed a yoga-inspired clothing company and has seen the inside of a volcano.

And then there’s the time he tracked wolf packs in Yellowstone.

But, according to the self-identified “hat-wearer,” it’s his latest venture that has surprised him and his family the most: he’s become an artist—and quite a successful one at that.

On display at Estate Coffee, founded by Rick Cunningham of Keller Williams and Jacob Spooner, in the Village, Cappellano’s “Uncaged” is a delicate, 30-part collection of pencil drawings that showcases the sundry of stunning plumages found on Earth’s rich and diverse variety of warblers, raptors and passerines.

Detailed and teeming with color, Cappellano’s birds are drawn on simple white backgrounds and share a similar essence as the elegant illustrations found in John James Audubon’s “Birds of America.”

Estate Coffee’s General Manager Tara Amiel told the Palisadian-Post that the collection, now over a week into its showing, has received a warm response from her guests.

“Our customers love them and are buying them up,” she said. “They’re practically flying off the wall.”

A novice artist at the time, the idea for the collection hatched two years ago after he came across a blue-gray gnatcatcher while on a hike near Mandeville Canyon.

“I saw this beautiful bird and I just knew I needed to draw it,” Cappellano explained during an interview with the Post.

“So I went home, borrowed my daughter’s colored pencils and drew my first bird while sitting in her bedroom.”

When his family saw the finished product, they encouraged him to continue.

“None of us really knew that I could draw,” he said with a laugh. “But I took their advice and began spending my free time learning how to become better at it.”

When asked why he chose to focus on birds for his art series, Cappellano revealed that his fondness for avian animals began decades ago during his travels as a wildlife documentarian.

“Birds have taken me to some remarkable places,” he mentioned while reflecting on a time he spent filming vultures in Southern Spain. “But even more than that, I suppose I’ve always felt that birds, especially those that migrate, were a sort of kindred spirit to me.”

Cappellano would eventually leave life on the road to “settle down,” which, for him, meant running—and selling—a successful vineyard before moving his family to Pacific Palisades where he and his wife, Anne-Marie, would raise their two daughters in the Alphabet Streets.

Beyond his birds, Cappellano, a long-time conservationist, is a director of Mongabay, a media outlet that publishes news and information on rainforests, and has served on a multitude of eco and wildlife advisory boards.

Since that fateful afternoon hike, Cappellano has created over 40 drawings of bird species, many of which can be found in “A Bird in the House,” a book of poetry written last year by Anne-Marie.

Up next for the artist, Cappellano said he plans on drawing at least 60 more bird species before he moves on to another animal: humans.

Cappellano’s “Uncaged” will be on display at Estate Coffee until March 1. For online viewing or to order prints, visit his Instagram @cappellanoarts.