Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Life without art is like dinner without wine. Why bother?" - Thomas Arvid

So. It has been a very, very long time since I last posted here. The whirlwind that is post-graduation has kept things racing pretty consistently. Among other things, I now work at a software technology company (Say what??) and am recently married (Hi Honey!). Boy, how things can change in a year and a half!

I am compelled to start this exercise all over again. I need to purposefully bring art back into my life - So for the next calendar year I will be doing (a minimum of) 52 posts - One for each week of the year. To kick things off, I'd like to start with an artist that is recently very special to me.

Thomas Arvid - The Painter of Wine

If you have not yet heard of Thomas Arvid, go to Google. Go to Google now. Or keep reading, of course.

Mr. Arvid hails originally from Detroit and always knew that he wanted to be an artist. He began his art career upon moving to Atlanta, Georgia where he taught himself how to paint in oils. During a backpacking trip through Europe, Arvid's now-wife Vanessa (an art historian herself :)) introduced the idea that to be more than just a "good painter," an artist had to have an organizing principle or theme behind their work.

Arvid started with a color -- Red. While working out of Atlanta's Cafe Tu Tu Tango in the early 1990s, Arvid painted Radio Flyer wagons, red Converse high tops, Campbells soup cans, and for the first time, glasses of red wine. As the red wine pieces started selling right off the easel, Arvid knew he was on to something big. An early commission challenged Arvid to not only paint a Silver Oak cabernet, but also taste a truly fine wine for the first time -- Opening up his palette to the world of fine wines and introducing him to his life's work. More on his bio here.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Arvid at The Vinings Gallery in Roswell, GA about a week ago. I was familiar with his work - Hyperrealistic, meticulous paintings of filled wine glasses, bottles, corks, and cork screws. He had fooled my eye (and my husband's!) on more than one occasion, the detail of his work causing you to think you were looking at a photograph instead of a painting. He personally was warm, charismatic, and a delight to talk to. He has a wonderful sense of humor and radiates passion for what he does. Conversing with him was really was one of the coolest 15 minute conversations I had had in a long time.

"Half Full" (c) Thomas Arvid, from

I love Arvid's works for 3 main reasons. I could certainly come up with many more, but this is meant to be a blog post, not a novel. I don't want you all falling to sleep on me!

1) The Detail. If you spend some time reviewing examples of his work, you will see exactly what I mean. 

2) The Compositions. Unlike traditional still lifes where you see all aspects of the inanimate spread on the table, Arvid intentionally interrupts the scene, enabling the viewer to "paint" the rest of the image in their minds. You can see this with Half Full (Limited Edition Giclée on Canvas. 43 x 21 ¼ in. Edition size: 100), above. You only get snipits, fragments of the wine glasses, the wine bottle, the corkscrew. This engages the viewer and their imagination, making them part of the moment. Which leads me to #3:

3) The Significance. To quote the artist himself, "When you buy a special bottle of wine you always look forward to the time when you'll open it -- Who will be there, where you'll be. An amazing bottle is as much about whom you're with as the wine itself; it's about being in the right place, at the right time."

As a fledgling wine enthusiast myself, I can relate this to concept whole-heartedly. My husband and I officially became a couple after sharing a bottle of Arrington Vineyards Viognier in Nashville, TN. Oliver Winery's Bean Blossom Blush and Blackberry wines will always remind me of tastings and shenanigans with my graduate school colleagues. Francis Coppola's Diamond Collection Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir were among the last wines my Mom purchased for us. Wines are meant to be shared and Arvid's efforts to capture of that moment is both special and equally relatable.

One of the most special aspects of getting to meet Mr. Arvid was finding out how caring and civic-minded he is. At the event, the gallery was holding a raffle to benefit Loving Arms Cancer Outreach in Roswell, GA. This beautiful outreach program enables cancer patients to continue on with their normal lives by donating wigs, grocery gift cards, meals, financial assistance, and warm hugs. The gift of "normalcy" is often the most precious thing that someone can offer to a cancer patient. The work these volunteers do is extraordinary, so please take a moment to visit their page if you have a chance.

Mr. Arvid donated a limited edition painting, a sculpture, and a wine tasting/gift box to the raffle, with all proceeds going back to the outreach.

As luck would have husband won the wine tasting/gift box (pictured left)! We're so thrilled!

A few final things gleaned from our conversation with Mr. Arvid:

"Golden Opportunity" (c) Thomas Arvid, from Thomas
  • What he listens to while painting: Country music and talk-radio
  • The bottle of wine that will "change your world": Shafer Family Vineyards' Cabernet Sauvignon
  • What he does for fun: Besides painting (he honestly loves what he does), he plays the guitar and ukelele
  • A dream/goal: To build a wooden boat
  • Methods for motivation: When he first started painting, he would hang his art on the wall until his walls were full. He would not allow himself to take something he deemed mediocre down until he painted something better to replace it.
  • Advice for those starting to paint (or to do anything artistic): Do it...a LOT. 

"The artist and the winemaker are visionaries, each in his own medium. One conveys his vision to canvas, the other inside a bottle. The art of painting wine and making wine are all about romance and perception. Good wine is quality art for the heart and soul."
- Thomas Arvid

In honor and loving memory of my Mom - The very first and most wonderful wine enthusiast I have ever known and one of my biggest fans when it came to my love and pursuit of art. 

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