By Hayley Thomas
Die-hard lovers of local art and wine will likely get their fix at The Art of Wine, an exhibit blending art and the Paso Robles Downtown Wineries at Studios on the Park tonight, April 16 from 6 to 9 p.m.
A splash of wine gave life to canvas, paper, wood and glass as a dozen of the studio's artists collaborated with local winemakers to create unexpected works of art this month. The various creations currently hang in each winery's downtown tasting room.
During the upcoming Art of Wine exhibit at Studios on the Park, those works will be auctioned off. Proceeds will return to Studios on the Park, a nonprofit art studio that encourages community members to make art part of their daily lives through workshops, exhibits and other local art events.
Artist Heidi Franscioni teamed up with winemaker Adam Bauman of Orchid Hill Winery in Templeton. The winery's orchid-inspired tasting room is located next door to Studios on the Park, which excited the artist, who said she was inspired by the unique flowers after traveling to a Santa Barbara orchid show a year prior. The mixed-media artist uses photographs and layers of molten beeswax - a term called encaustic - to create dreamlike images embellished with oil paint.
"Those orchids really inspired me, so when I saw Orchid hill I thought, 'that's for me,'" said Franscioni.
After coming up with a piece of an old wine barrel, she and Bauman got to work on their concept, a wine glass brimming with colorful orchids.
"It just so happened that [Bauman] had had some art training, and he really enjoys creative work, but he had never worked with encaustic," said Franscioni. "He jumped right in and really enjoyed it. I gave him a dirty how-to on the medium, but I wanted the finished product to be his expression, so it was definitely a collaboration."
Painter Nancy Becker, who was paired with Ortman Family Vineyards winemaker Matt Ortman, took a different approach to the collaboration, although the finished product - a magnum bottle adorned in acrylic paints - embodied Ortman's vision, literally. The winemaker wanted to create a replica of a specific vineyard in the Santa Rita hills, complete with the hills and barn he so vividly remembered.
"It was all from his description, so it was a collaborative effort between his description and my interpretation of his words," said Becker. "People usually look at things when they paint, so this was completely different, where I was hearing auditory stuff and coming up with the visual. We had so much fun."
For larger-than-life mural painter Frank Armitage, who was teamed up with Vihuela Winery, the concept for the collaboration was a no-brainer.
"It's real simple," Armitage said. "The word Vihuela is the classic flamenco guitar," said Armitage. The painter enjoyed the image so much, he created one for himself, which hangs in his studio. The experience wasn't bad either, he added.
"We sat there, drank wine and talked while I worked," he said. "It was a good collaboration."
Laure F. Carlisle, who creates vibrant watercolors in bold, tropical hues, collaborated with John Pianetta of Pianetta Winery. Luckily, the pair loves to laugh, and the team rolled with the bunches when it came down to creating artwork.
"We did a watercolor on canvas together. He painted the Pianetta 'P' and then he said, 'well, how bout we put a wine glass down here. Then he started laughing and said that it looked like a nose sniffing, so we named it 'A nose for Cabernet,'" said Carlisle. "The winemakers were full of ideas, and they are creative people, too. Everybody had fun."
Studios on the Park Programs Director Sasha Irving said that collaborating with downtown wineries was a unique experience that would hopefully open the doors for more collaborations in the future.
"This is the first year we have had a chance to collaborate with Paso Robles Downtown Wineries, and we're thrilled," Irving said. "We are so thankful for their generosity and for their support of studios and our youth art programs.
"[The Art of Wine Collaboration] has been a natural partnership between two very creative worlds - art and wine making."
Studios on the Park is located at 1130 Pine St. in downtown Paso Robles. Tickets for the upcoming Art of Wine event are $40, with discounts for wine club members. Tickets may be purchased at www.pasodowntownwineris.com.
Participating wineries and artists include: Anglim - Anne Laddon, Arroyo Robles - Sarah Winkler, Bear Cave Cellars - John Barnard, Christian Lazo - John Partridge, Clayhouse - Michael Miller, D'Anbino - Peggy Vrana, Edward Sellers - Sally Tippman, JK Wines - Sara Heinrichs, Kiamie - Penny Lentz, Michaud - Harold Spencer, Orchid Hill - Heidi Franscioni, Ortman - Nancy Becker, Pianetta - Laure Carlisle and Vihuela - Frank Armitage.