Cheese and wine are natural friends, and there is an incredible art to pairing them well/correctly (entire education classes are offered at places such as at the Cheese School of San Francisco). When and why cheese and wine became synonymous with art openings, however, I am not certain. Very brief searches of the Internet did not yield anything (well, not quickly enough. I was hoping to find an article on the subject as a “first” hit in Google). I’ll take a few uninformed guesses; fine wine and cheese are traditionally (in America) not cheap, and were traditionally considered to be for refined tastes. People who might attend an art opening, are either often other artists, or people who enjoy, and can afford to buy, art. The wine and cheese, besides being excellent on their own, provide an art opening a certain air of sophistication due to the reasons I already mentioned. On top of that, it is perhaps more likely that a gallery will be able to sell art should the visiting patrons being both a little on the inebriated side, and fed.
When and how wine and cheese became an almost expected part of any art opening I am still not certain, but even in today’s economic climate, you’ll find them at art openings. This past Friday night (4/24/09) started a busy weekend for Kathy and myself…
First, a little history. When the Thunderbird Theatre Company decided to write and produce its first musical, “Rocket Girl“, we were VERY fortunate that local artist/illustrator Josh Ellingson came on board to help us with the graphic design elements for the musical. He designed the show’s logo, as well as several other print pieces for the production. Nowadays Josh continues to be a nationally (well; internationally) recognized and published illustrator, to the point that his art was even recently on display in space. Thanks to Facebook, Kathy and I were reminded on Friday that it was time for the; “Spring Open Studios at The Local 303,” home of Josh’s studio space. We see Josh, and his new work, too infrequently, so this was the perfect opportunity.
Uh, Bryce; Cheese?!?
Yes, yes, “Inner-Cheese Voice,” I was getting to that, but to be honest I plan to stray from cheese quite a bit on this particular post… so as I was saying; open studios are an excellent chance to not only see new art, but also to have some wine and cheese. While in college we paid close attention to when art openings were almost exclusively for the wine and cheese… The Local 303’s open studio was a treasure trove of art (and cheese). We also got to meet one of Josh’s studio co-tenants, Jason Dryg, who has a very distinct style which mimics commercial art. As to cheese, there WAS cheese, AND there were hot dogs! It was refreshing to find both the tradition of wine and cheese being met, but also in conjunction with the pop-art feel of some of the work we saw, I was pleased to find the heartier down-to-earth fare being offered. Art without pretension.
Will you write home about the cheese that was offered?
No, but I will mention it here. A respectable quality variety of sharp cheddar, dill Havarti and Dutch Gouda were present, all tasty and all most likely purchased at Trader Joe’s; which is an excellent place to find and buy a variety of cheeses (both foreign and domestic) and prices which are at least 1/3 cheaper than the inflated prices of “gourmet” (ie non-consumer block cheese) cheese at larger grocery chain stores.
Wandering the halls and studios of The Local 303, we noted that most all the kind food and drink offerings were likely from Trader Joe’s. One studio had a sign, however, next to a few crumbs on a plate, something about figs and Bellwether Farms’ Carmody. Arrived too late for that…
As to the rest of the weekend, “cheesiness” continued… We went with our good friends Michelle and Alexander and their daughter to a Science Fair at Cal. State Hayward. Yeah, I know; they renamed themselves to Cal. State East Bay (so to sound more more metropolitan and to have prospective students believe they are somehow closer to the Bay than they are), but I just can’t call them that… The science fair was fantastic. Set up to attract kids to science, and to show science in a university setting. The event was perfect since college professors were there showcasing their work, and interacting with “kids” of all ages.
…and this has to do with cheese, how?
OK, it doesn’t. In fact, the single food stand was family perfect; hot dogs for $1, water, chips and sodas for 50¢ each. I did learn, however, at a nutrition display that one “serving” of cheese is the size of about two dominoes. The daily recommended amount of dairy for an adult male of my age is three cups, which in this example equates to six dominoes of cheese (roughly 4.5 ounces). At the open studios the night before I must’ve had at least two days worth of recommended servings, so on Saturday I cut back…
Sunday brought new cheesiness; the press photo shoot for the Thunderbird Theatre Company, conducted in our apartment. Our next production is “Aaron Trotter and the Incident at Bikini Beach” written by Peter finch of KFOG radio. Auditions for the show are Saturday, May 9th, 2009 and you can get all the details about the auditions on our website (as long as you are reading this prior to May 9th, 2009 ). You may recall I mentioned last years photo shoot (and gave my favorite mac and cheese recipe) on Canyon of Cheese here. This year we had six actors/”models” for the press photo shoot, and six support people. Kathy and I (OK, mainly Kathy), made a brunch of pancakes, bacon, coffee, juice and plain Dutch Baby (recipe here on CofC). As to cheese, we only had some grated (Parmesan) for those of us who enjoy savory Dutch Baby… jam, syrup and powdered sugar for the sweet version. Our graphic designer/photographer Dana Constance took over 1000 photos, and we’re looking forward to see which make the final cut as the show’s press photo. The photos displayed are a couple that he let me have for this posting.
Last, but certainly not least, the weekend ended in having an amazing opportunity to not only see the musical “Wicked“ , but to enjoy a backstage tour by our friend Patrick who has been traveling with the show for… four years? It has finally made its way back here to Patrick’s home in San Francisco (you might recall that we visited Patrick while he was working the show in Los Angeles, and fed us an incredible meal with Feta). As the production’s Automation Carpenter, Patrick controls 90% of the large set piece movements throughout the play. For Kathy and myself the backstage workings of these kinds of huge productions are almost more spectacular than the show its self. I’m thoroughly amazed by how much design and expertise are used to create such a flawless show of this scale. In the independent realm of theater (our hobby), we use a lot of low-budget “tricks” to create impressive effects. True, shows such as “Wicked” do use a fair amount of smoke and mirrors to create the illusions they do, but what spectacular smoke and mirrors they are! A huge thank you again to Patrick for the intimate inner-workings tour of the show.
…and this, again, has to do with cheese, by…?
IT DOESN’T, “Inner-Cheese Voice!” It just doesn’t, ‘cept that I was fueled by the cheese I had eaten in the morning. To satisfy your never ending interest in cheese, however, I’ll talk about the dinner we had Friday night at one of the many Mexican burrito shops in the Mission District of San Francisco ["El Balazo"]. As I’ve mention in the past, I’m always hoping to find an excellent Chili Relleno, but never find them… this one, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) was a 5. I wouldn’t have ordered the Relleno had the menu not claimed that it was filled with a special imported cheese. Regretfully, the cheese inside is no different than the bulk-produced mild cheddar and jack which was on top. It was still edible, good even, the price was right, AND IT HAD CHEESE, so I’m trying not to complain. In their favor, they were serving some of the most flavoriful refried beans I think I’ve had this year.