Since 1996 there has been something quietly wonderful happening on the Queens Birthday Weekend in the King Valley: the King Valley Art Show. On the same weekend as the Fit For a King wine festival, the Art Show is the result of a group of dedicated and talented people putting on an event for the love of it.
Skip to 2013 and it's clear that the word has spread: 380 artworks submitted, $13,750 worth of prize money, a highly respected judge - and the biggest turn out ever for the opening.
Eminence has sponsored the Art Show for years; it's a significant community event and most of the local wineries get behind it by donating money, as well as wine for the opening. Apart from the fuzzy feeling we get from doing good deeds, we also get to take home the painting which wins in the category we've sponsored.
The opening night is a celebration; This year about 350 people piled into the tobacco shed at King Valley Cucina to drink great local wine, eat great local food and put their critic's hat on. This year though the opening night was also tinged with sadness as we remembered fondly the late Barb Sartori. Barb owned King Valley Cucina and was part of the Art Show committee (of course!) and it was her idea to convert the tobacco shed into a space which could be used for such events. Local artist and fellow committee member Anita Laurence made a rousing, emotional speech and we all raised our glasses to a great woman who is so sadly missed.
Barb's family graciously continue to host the event in their space - and it is with such gestures that community events like this one still happen, so a huge thanks to the Sartori family.
With my amateur-art-critic hat on, a wander around this years show was quite inspiring as every year the standard seems to improve. Judge Tom Alberts echoed my sentiments. Tom's descriptions of all the winning entries seemed to me to have much in common with great wine writing: capturing the feeling and sentiment without forgetting about the technical aspects (wine writers take note!). You can see his notes here. Anyway, back to the art: the category we sponsored was watercolor/gouache. The winning painting was a beautiful piece entitled ''Winter Vineyard'' by Vanessa Kelly.
Tom described this painting as "...a simple composition but in these masterful hands Vanessa Kelly creates an intense and absorbing moment. There is a flinty crackling sombreness to this winter scene". And for me, I am taken by the way Vanessa captured the disorderly orderliness of a vineyard in winter - with dormant canes flailing in every direction, restrained only by the wires. The proportions, textures and colours are lovely too, every aspect is very considered. I'm quite enamoured by it!
Until next time...