Q&A with Michael Duté: The Painter Behind Frank Family’s Famous Red Barn

In July 2017, Frank Family commissioned American artist, Michael Duté to paint the facade of our now iconic red barn. Little did we know then that his masterpiece would become our winery’s defining feature, beckoning travelers for years to come. We loved Michael’s work so much that we continue to bring him back year after year to add his colorful and artistic touches to our space. From the playful “Drink Wine For Daily Happiness” message painted on the front of our yellow 1930s Craftsman House to the elegant Miller House mural featured alongside our new hospitality barn, Duté has used his craft to elevate just about every interior and exterior of our Napa Valley property.

Originally from the Bay Area, Duté now resides in Berlin and Tuscany. His paintings are featured regularly in leading interior design publications. Most recently, his Berlin apartment was featured in a new book by Architectural Digest, The Most Beautiful Rooms in the World. Duté also creates works on canvas and is represented by Erin Martin Design in St. Helena.

Q: What inspired you to become an artist? Was it always your dream career? 

I’ve always been the creative type. My first passion is architecture, especially residential architecture. I found that the artwork associated with and integral to, gave me more freedom to express myself.  I’ve found great satisfaction in creating exquisitely painted rooms and canvases to adorn them. My primary goal is to delight the inhabitants, to give them a sense of joy and to elevate their spirits.

Q: What brought you from the Bay Area to Berlin? 

 I lived in San Francisco for 20 years and eventually grew weary of the ever-increasing hustle and expense. The artistic flare of the city suffered as a result, Hayes Valley lost its Bohemian charm and Berlin seemed to offer exciting cultural opportunities. I took the leap and found great inspiration. I created a fabulous new home for myself and embarked on a new artistic style as a result. Change is good!

Q: Where do you find inspiration? Do you have a favorite art period/movement?

I find inspiration from many sources, from 18th-century decorative arts and interiors, from the Da-Da movement, from the Renaissance to the street art scene of today. I’m influenced by punk and alternative rock music. I love satire. Humor and wit drive me wild.

Q: Which artist are you most influenced by?

Marcel DuChamp

Q: What is your most memorable project at Frank Family? 

Painting the facade of the big red barn was the most fun and the most challenging. It’s the painting that started it all!

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job? 

My favorite part is enriching people’s lives.

Q: How does it feel to be one of the world’s premier decorative painters? 

 Wow, thanks. I love it. My work has been published all over the world. It’s a real honor.