Wine and Art is an ongoing GFR series on the relationship between the two creative endeavours by collagist Lorette C. Luzajic.

The Vivian Girls Decided They Loved Hamburgers Best of All by Lorette C. Luzajic

The Vivian Girls Decided They Loved Hamburgers Best of All by the author.

There is constantly somebody who’s making something, whether it’s music or art or wine, that pushes the edges of what was previously thought possible. And in doing that, if the person makes something that’s fundamentally good, it drives the parameters of what is good and makes them a little bit wider.”

– Len Rothenberg, Federal Wine & Spirits in Boston, quoted from Forbes online

One thing I struggle with as an artist is how to describe or refer to my work- none of the isms are a good match.

Even “abstract” is too abstract, since as a collagist, I am by definition anti-abstract. Assorted imagery and text are the foundation of my work, even though paint dominates.

In breaking with traditions, today’s artists, myself included, hope to create something distinctive and exciting and new. We work hard and hope that our practice will become important and survive art history in some small way. So how would I describe my work, when available terms are woefully inadequate?

I explore human appetites, you might say. My art is about human longing, and about hamburgers. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die just might be the essence of my work, in all the conceivable meanings: spiritual, literary, nihilist, grief-stricken, realist, and hungry.

But I digress. What I wanted to talk about is how new wineries are always hoping to make an impact, trying to start something new but stay in the game for the long haul. As with art, wine has a long legacy. Each new hopeful wants a place in the canon but knows that toying with tradition is a mixed bag of tricks. New wineries have to take risks and flout rules to bring more variety to the table.

But the good news is, neither wine nor art have ever had such massive and diverse audiences as they do today. In the past few decades, wine culture is spreading rapidly throughout the world, taking its gospel far and wide. More and more countries are becoming major wine consumers, as well as producers. Wine has cachet today, in fancy restaurants and in exclusive enclaves, but also way beyond. Twentysomethings are increasingly wine savvy, and urban centres all have “wine bars” where we lounge for hours and discuss the poetry of every glass.  Even beer dives that boast dusty deer taxidermy have a small array of Two Oceans on hand for special occasions.

Heritage wine families, like longstanding houses of couture, will reign forever. But there’s room, too, for the new.

What this broad new range of wine drinkers lack in heritage or history, we make up for with enthusiasm. We embrace the risk these new companies have braved; we want to try styles whose genres haven’t yet been invented; we want unorthodox blends and cutting edge flavours.

For me, it’s all about adventure. I want to be surprised.  I want the next glass to be stronger and wilder, to taste of smoked salmon or garden dirt or blue cheese. Give me wine with notes of rosemary and gummy bears and brine.

People of all stripes are expressing their tastes for and enjoying art, too, with galleries or art collectives catering to every taste and subculture.

It’s no coincidence that wine is what we drink at art openings. Art and wine pairings have been going on for centuries. Today the tradition expands as we consume more variety and adventure.

rachel ovadia
Sweet, heady, but complex wines like California’s Apothic pairs wonderfully with giant abstract compositions like Rachel Ovadia’s.

squeak carnwath

And Australia’s rainbow spectrum of Yellow Tails will complement colourful, off-beat but crowd-pleasing works like those of Squeak Carnwath.

wilfredo pieto

Conceptual curios like Wilfredo Pieto’s dust pile hiding one diamond, what one might refer to as Nuit Blanche-esque mysteries, can only be matched by the mysterious Nuit Blanche, of Hidden Bench Niagara.

gerhard richter
For stark minimalism and expansive, simple, and contemporary design, such as Gerhard Richter’s white paintings, it’s Naked Grape or nothing.

georgia o'keeffe

And what could go better with Georgia O’Keefe’s too-close-for-comfort florals than the cloying, compelling bouquet of Gewürztraminer? Niagara’s Open Riesling-Gewurztraminer tastes like tangerines and honeysuckle and summer. Bring it on.

And what goes best with my artwork? A wide variety of new and exciting wines, and lots of them.

To expand tradition and bring the greatest joys of life to more and more people, artists and wine artists have to both learn from the past and also to take chances. They have to make rules, and break rules.

Nothing Says Culture Like a Big Ass Painting by the author.

Nothing Says Culture Like a Big Ass Painting by the author.

I’m certain that the acceleration of passion for wine and art throughout the world is nothing short of the pursuit of enlightenment. It’s a pleasure principle, to be sure. But there is something more transcendent going on, something sublime or divine. These pleasures don’t reflect, in my mind, gluttony or indulgence- rather, they are rejections of asceticism and are about pure gratitude for living.

The urgency and intensity that devotees of both feel is about living life to its fullest, exploring everything, and partaking at the big ol’ table before it’s too late. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow…

Besides, nothing says culture like a few sexy bottles on your bookshelf and a big ass painting on the wall.

Lorette C Luzajic at workLorette C. Luzajic is an artist and writer with roots in southern Ontario’s wine country soil. Native to Niagara, at home in Toronto, her work is inspired by wine, cheese, and bleak post-apocalyptic literature. If you missed her at the ROM or the Ritz, visit her at Photo: Ralph Martin.