by Eric Ginsburg
The best part about being a booze columnist — besides the whole getting paid to drink thing — is that you’re always trying something new, on the lookout for the unexplored, the forgotten, the experimental. It’s a habit anyone could cultivate, but with the job actually requiring that you not fall back on your go-to, an instinctive feeling of guilt builds anytime you aren’t pushing yourself.
So when your girlfriend says something like, “Hey, can we put Fireball in that bottle of prosecco you bought the other night along with apple cider to make this drink I saw on Instagram?” you say yes much more quickly than you might otherwise, if at all.
And that’s a good thing, because the apple-cinnamon mimosa spinoffs we drank from martini glasses in the wilderness just south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are worthy of repeating.
I might’ve felt differently, even considering the inborn requirements of the job, if the bottle of Ciacola Prosecco hadn’t felt like a steal at $13, or if I didn’t know I could find it again at Caviste, a Winston-Salem wine shop over on Robinhood Road.
See, I came by the prosecco at a wine tasting event last week, where the Caviste proprietor showed up to sample a red, white and rosé alongside it. Art Nouveau Winston-Salem, the youngbloods associated with the city-county arts council, held the wine and cheese event to stir up additional interest in an exhibit it put on at the Milton Rhodes Arts Center on the southern edge of downtown, and invited Caviste to facilitate the sampling.
And sample I did, asking for more of the fruit-forward white wine before rotating through the exhibit. If there is such thing as household names in the local arts scene, those folks were represented, especially from (appropriately) a younger cohort, including Dane Walters and Laura Lashley. Art Nouveau asked several of these prominent artists to pick another local — which in this case included Greensboro — whose work inspired them, resulting in a diverse cast spreading across mediums, styles and social networks.
How else do you end up with a tattoo artist exhibiting masterful drawings next to a three-part think piece on race and appearance next to carnie-style paintings? Wood carvings, sculptures, conceptual photographs and other materials graced the room’s walls and floors.
There is beauty in events like these. Art Nouveau held an opening for the exhibit of course, but this more intimate setting provided ample space for attendees to study each piece without feeling forced to step out of someone’s way. And for someone like me, who fully intends to check out new gallery exhibits but can never seem to find the time, it set forward a structured reason to show up at a specific time.
Plenty of art openings offer wine or stacks to attendees, a sort of reward or incentive for attendance, but in a way the role reversal here made art a bonus to this chance to socialize.
Because to be totally honest, the people excite me more than the art or the wine. The folks of Art Nouveau — like Jackie Johnson who was showing her mom and a family friend around the exhibit or Devin Mackay, Shaheen Syal and Eliza Walmsley who invited me along for dinner and yes, more wine, after the event ended — are sharp, welcoming and affirming. It isn’t that I dislike the art, and I sure as hell don’t dislike the wine. But running into people such as these, or Michael Hewlett from the Winston-Salem Journal and city planner Kelly Bennett, is the real reason I recommend small events such as this. Maybe they, in fact, are really the best part about my job.