By Hayley Thomas
It was a colorful first for Paso Robles and a first for Arts Obispo as the First Saturdays: Wine & The Arts event debuted in Paso Robles last Saturday, Jan. 7. The free event took place from 5 to 8 p.m. and featured a combination of fine artwork and community spirit. Locals and visitors roamed the downtown district, taking in the sights, sounds and - of course - wine.
The event marked the first of its kind in 2012. ARTS Obispo/SLO Count Arts Council Program Director Jenna Hartzell said all five Paso Robles locations were abuzz with excitement. At Studios on the Park, live music and the sound of children laughing and talking about art enlivened the space.
"Studios on the Park encompassed everything arts education is about," she said. "Families were milling around trying to find their child's art pieces and children proudly pose din front of their creations. It made my heart swell."
Clayhouse Wines, another participating art and wine locale, was a big hit.
"I found no room at their tasting bar and many seats were filled around this cozy tasting room. It was packed," said Hartzell, who made her way to the back room, where she said jeweler Donna Wolfe had set up "an impressive display" of hand-crafted necklaces and earrings.
Wolfe sold a few pieces to the art and wine lovers downtown.
"I'm loving the event," said Wolfe. "It's a great way to expose visitors to my art."
Pianetta was also going strong last Saturday evening, hosting a crowd of enthusiastic tasters who came out to support First Saturdays in Paso Robles.
"Wine tasters were occupied at the bar and art lovers milled around the tasting room and down a hall to view Pat Cairns' abstract acrylic paintings," said Hartzell. "Cairns happens to be one of my favorite abstract artists in the county, so it was great to see some of her new pieces and hear how her sales have been going up, even in this economy."
Earth Tones Gifts & Gallery was also "a delight," Hartzell added. The venue boasted four walls dedicated to artist Katrina Toppano.
"Toppano's acrylic on panel is inspired by her love for the art of yoga. Her color combinations were so fresh," said Hartzell. "I'm looking forward to seeing what artists Earth Tones Gallery will have in the upcoming months."
Vale Fine Art featured its continuing show, "A Little Nightmare Before Christmas."
"It was nice to see a steady flow of visitors, as the show had already had a reception," said Madeline Vale.
Even though she hadn't put out a reminder for the event, many people stopped by to check out the artwork and the new gallery.
"The First Saturdays: Wine & the Arts successfully brought art-lovers into [Vale's] gallery who otherwise might not have come," said Hartzell, who added that the gallery is "a great new addition to the art scene, not only in Paso Robles, but for SLO County."
Hartzell said she hopes both visitors and venues will grow steadily in North County.
"Art After Dark sees between 200 to 400 people every first Friday of the month and my goal is for First Saturdays to see that kind of crowd show up in Paso Robles," she said. "I think it's entirely possible to accomplish this in the next two years, but we'll need to get more venues on board. We can't thank Paso Robles Press enough for publishing the list and map of participants."
For more information or to sign up to become a participating venue, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.artsobispo.org. Photos from the past event are also up on the group's Facebook page.