Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Picture of the Day - Blood Wine

Last night I attended the 2015 California Mid-State Fair's Artist Reception. This annual event reveals the voting results of the fair's art contest across a variety of art media, competency levels, and age groups. It is an invitation-only event wherein submitters and their entourages are welcome. For the third consecutive year I was in attendance by way of my friendship with local artist and photographer Susie Christian of Morro Bay. This year I was less excited by the entries than last year's crop or that of the year before.

This painting by Jim Alberter was the only one that really got my attention. Perhaps I am misinterpreting what it means but I see it as containing a negative impression of the local wine industry. The center bottom shows a newer vineyard which is a rather ubiquitous sight in these parts nowadays. Adjacent to it on both flanking sides is the old landscape the vineyards are replacing. As such the vineyard which is the insurgent landscape is stabbing into and penetrating and violating the old landscape that preceded it. The vineyard appears to go on forever into the distant horizon as if the vineyard never ends.

The wine glass is inverted which brings to mind an inverted cross and/or an inverted flag. The former is symbolic in the modern popular culture of blasphemy which around here would be any sort of criticism of the wine industry. An inverted flag represents a distress signal whcih suggests distress regarding the invasion and occupation of the Paso Robles region by the insurgent wine industry.

The red fluid roiling and rolling down the inner surface of the wine glass appear both ominous-looking and is highly symbolic in one or two ways. Since ancient times wine has often symbolized blood which it potentially does here while also representing itself. Representing wine the painting suggests the wine is descending and covering everything as if to suggest the wine industry and its interests are becoming ever more dominant in the area. Representing blood the painting suggests there is a heavy price to be paid locally for the wine industry here and the idea of blood as a cost for something (ex: blood, sweet, and tears) is a common metaphor.

My personal views on the local wine industry are highly complex and nuanced and internally contradictory. I see it as both good and bad depending upon the context. Water-wise and land zoning-wise it is bad. Revenue-wise and employment-wise it is good. In any case I really like this painting!

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