By Hayley Thomas
Just more than six months after Paso Robles’ First Saturdays: Wine & The Arts partnered with ARTS/Obispo and the SLO County Arts, the event is stronger than ever.
The monthly attraction pairs local wine offerings with fresh artwork, often produced by local artists. Art is showcased at local galleries, tasting rooms and other businesses from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Paso Robles.
“I’ve been depending on First Saturdays,” said gallery owner Madeline Vale last Saturday. “We have quite a few locals, people coming from San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and a great Cambria constituency.”
Folks trickled in throughout the evening in search of wine, art and complimentary nibbles. Vale Fine Art, which showcases new artists every other month, is currently displaying the works of Edward Walton Wilcox, among others.
The images have a surreal, post apocalyptic, yet pastoral quality.
“It’s a sense of romantic gloom,” said Wilcox, who recently relocated from Los Angeles to North County. Dark, gnarled trees, gothic-style houses and (surprisingly) his youngest daughter, are all subjects of his rich, quirky art. Wilcox said it’s been refreshing working and living in the Paso Robles area.
“It's so much easier to work here and people are helpful,” said Wilcox. “In the city, there’s a lot of insular creating, but here, everyone is so open. It's wonderful being part of it.”
Jan and Steve Floss, who live in the San Jose area but also own a home in Paso Robles, were part of the scene Saturday night. The couple hopes to retire in Paso Robles in the coming years.
Steve, an artist in his own right, said the galleries are “a real gem.”
“We love art and we are thrilled that these galleries exist,” said Jan. “I've always felt there is a niche for art here – a good sense of the finer things in life. Wine and art just go together. It's a good combination of wine and cowboys.”
Next door, Pierce Modern Art showcased the pulsing, graphic works of Peter Holmes, an Atascadero artist. His subjects are abstract geographic shapes with a lively, earthy quality.
“I like diagonals, and using an interior light source is one of my things,” he said. “It gives the art life and drama.”
Holmes said he’s always intrigued to see newcomers enter a gallery, unaware of what they’re in store for.
“It's interesting to hear people’s reactions, what feelings they are left with. Art is an active, moving flowing thing,” he said. “The reason I look at galleries and art and go to museums is that I always learn something. I'm always left knowing more about someone else.”