Fine art's even finer with a hot dog and a beer
June 9, 2007 - 17:55.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: GO TO GALLERY OPENINGS! They almost always feed you, and the artists are there to clue you in when a piece makes you say, Huh?
In the case of the Summer Invitational at Thomas Barry Fine Arts on Friday night, had you been there (and maybe you were—the place was packed), you would have had the opportunity to dine as if watching a Twins game, but without spending a dime to get a bellyful and a buzz. Thom served hot dogs and beer to a crowd ranging from late-teens in jeans to octogenarians in suit jackets, all of them licking the ketchup off the ends of their buns while perusing the paintings. Let no one call this gallery elitist!
Even if you missed the opening, this is an exhibit worth seeing. With 10 artists represented, you will find something you want to stand and contemplate, beer or no beer. I go to galleries mostly to ingest the work—not orally, of course, but intellectually and spiritually. Like vitamins, minerals and hot dogs, art is a nutrient. But equally enjoyable is bringing friends, as I did Friday night, and watching one of them gravitate toward a piece that the other would bypass, and vice-versa. Inevitably, each work speaks differently to each observer, and I learn more about my friends by watching where they linger.
Jodi was drawn to the serenity of Zen Moderne by Rosalyn Schwartz. Donna favored the complexity of a work by David Bartley called something like Dread and Dead in a D.C. Park (whereas I had to ask the artist what the heck it meant). Meanwhile, I was enamored with the ironic, found-object photography of John Kohring, who is also a painter, and by a Mary Bergs installation called Correspondence (above).
Such differences in taste and opinion made for stimulating conversation over a post-gallery dinner at Trocaderos (although most of our evening was spent dancing to—or in Jodi’s case, dancing onstage with—the talented and entertaining cover band Westside).
My apologies to Larry in the dapper hat who asked me to dance, but you were messin’ with a girls’ night out, sweetheart, and I just won’t leave a girlfriend alone at the table, not even for a man as good-lookin’ as you!
I did want to mention our pre-gallery tongue-ticklers at one of my favorite restaurants, Sapor Café. I think this place gets overlooked because it doesn’t have a neon sign like most venues along Washington Avenue. But they’ve got excellent food, a good wine list, outdoor seating, and a fabulous mohito-like cocktail called Agave’s Inferno. Here’s the recipe: Cielo Reposado tequila, ginger habañero syrup that’s made at Sapor, a bit of soda, muddled mint, and fresh limeade, shaken well and garnished with mint leaves plucked from the restaurant’s outdoor herb garden…mmm! (Thanks, Topher, for personally selecting our mint leaves.)
After one of those concoctions sipped while sitting in the sun, plus appetizers—try the Wasabi Potato Cake with Peanuts and the Grilled Asparagus with Honey Aioli—we were just the very teensiest bit tipsy upon arrival at the gallery a block away, and had to leave our checkbooks in the car. (A wise move for art-lovers who get generous after a few drinks, and who tend to give up groceries for gouaches in the first place. If you find a piece you like, tell the gallery owner and believe me, he or she will follow up before you can say “hangover”!)
Summertime is filled with art and culture happenings. Bookmark this site and you won’t miss them! Meanwhile, stop in at the Summer Invitational at Thomas Barry Fine Arts through August 10 (Tuesdays-Fridays 11am-5pm or by appointment). As my friend Donna says whenever she goes there, “Even without the art, there’s something I like about this space.” Me, too.