If reading this week's cover story has you all abuzz and hopeful to get on the wine train, we've got great news for you: Santa Fe Art Tours, the company of Santa Fe's Elaine Ritchel (which does exactly what you'd think it would), has a special one-off event this week that not only revels in digital arts and the spaces that show it, but that pairs wines with visual aesthetics.
"It's really something I've been thinking about," Ritchel says of Digital Art + Wine Pairing, the aptly named new tour. "I don't know where the spark came from, but I'm always thinking of ways to include culinary stops on tours in a way that makes sense [within] the tour itself, where there's a tie-in with the art work."
SFR first spoke with Ritchel in 2016, when Santa Fe Art Tours was but a fledgling walking group. Since then, Ritchel, a graduate of the University of New Mexico, has grown her business, partnering with more galleries and developing more
immersive tours. The connection to art she just mentioned? As it pertains to wine, it clicks most strongly with Art House (231 Delgado St., 995-0231), the public space spearheaded by the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Foundation. The
Thomas are also owners of Van Duzer Vineyards, a winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the product of which participants have a chance to sample; Art House is the second stop of the tour whereupon visitors can view Digital Artifacts, a show SFR loved last November.
Before that, however, Ritchel begins the tour at the sprawling Gerald Peters Projects (1011 Paseo de Peralta, 954-5800) and the Joel Hobbie show Interstitial. Hobbie's sculptures look like robotic parts smack-dab in the middle of a strange evolution. Mechanical pieces meet wildly flowing wires and are almost industrial in nature. Hobbie's works feel familiar, though none looks quite like something we already know. This makes for a sense of unease, though that feeling abates to some degree upon noticing an almost biological element; like floating jellyfish adrift in no particular direction.
Then comes Art House and Digital Artifacts, where the works of Michal Rovner, Casey Reas and Josh Tonsfeldt, among others, belie the assumption that there's a cold, uncaring element to digital objects. Instead, pieces are emotionally charged and thoughtfully explore our world on both micro and macro scales.
"On my tours, I always try to incorporate an activity that gets people looking deeply and trying to articulate their responses to the work on view," Ritchel says. "I really want them to think about their responses—things like how colors make us feel a certain way or can communicate a message. I don't think that's too far off from the experiences we can have with food and drink."
Ritchel hasn't selected the specific wine pairings just yet, and says Art House director Kathleen Richards will probably lend a hand. After all, Ritchel says, she's not a sommelier so much as an arts expert, though it's still important to her to enhance the tour's experience. Previously, she's included stops like Kakawa Chocolate House at the tail end of tours. Art House and the Van Duzer wines come at the midway point of Digital Art + Wine Pairing, however, which might affect how participants both consume and discuss the art work.
"Some things might feel a little more happy or bubbly," Ritchel tells SFR,
mostly joking. "Some things might feel a little more dark and robust."
The last stop of the tour is Currents 826 (826 Canyon Road, 820-7338), the brick-and-mortar gallery kicked off by the wildly popular annual Currents New Media Festival. Newly open, the space expectedly embraces the digital. Though rather than delve too deep into AR, VR or video as the organization often does at its El Museo Cultural-based event each summer, there is much physical work on the walls created through digital means. Think 3-D printing or tweaked art-making algorithms that spit out strange cityscapes. Currents' digital media manager LE Brown helped Ritchel come up with the tour as a way to showcase Canyon Road's less-traditional side.
"It's designed to highlight that there is digital art on and around Canyon Road," Ritchel says. "And we'll get a look at the new Currents exhibit about an hour before it opens to the public."
Digital art, wines, exclusive early access to one of our city's most vital
spaces. How can you lose?