The Downtown Art and Wine Tour
Text & photos by Shannon Kelley Gould
While I’m no Travis Armstrong, my life as a peeper means that, in addition to meeting tons of people and getting invited to oodles of fantastic affairs, I do my fair share of drinking. And in my more sober moments, I find myself wondering what kind of toll the sauce is taking on my poor, defenseless liver. I was pondering that question the other day when Matt Kettmann popped his head in my office and told me of a company that’s been humping his leg promoting its “PartySmart” pill. He tossed me a sample last Thursday morning, and the timing could not have been better: That evening was the Downtown Organization’s Art and Wine Tour — an amazingly fun, well put-together exercise in gluttony that would provide the perfect testing ground for PartySmart, which claims it “helps maintain healthy liver function and provides drinkers a better morning after.” I wasn’t expecting miracles, but figured it couldn’t hurt. The directions read: “For best results, take 1 capsule 30 minutes before your first drink.” So, at 4:45 p.m., I popped my PartySmart (which may have been my last smart move of the evening) and walked to the Courthouse Sunken Gardens to check in.
The sun was out in all its glory, which made the daunting task of visiting each of the 13 participating galleries in two hours a welcome challenge. My posse and I headed to La Arcada first, and we began our tour at Waterhouse. We quickly motivated onward to Gallery 113, where Summerland’s wines were on offer, but were overshadowed by the smells of something divine wafting from Bottoms Art Gallery. We followed our noses, found that Paradise Café’s giant grilled mussels were the culprits, and washed them down with some of Brander’s finest. Next up, Oliver & Espig Jewelers, where we mingled while enjoying Consilience’s fantastic syrah. Around that time, “Happy Happy Joy Joy” began to sound from the depths of my bag; I missed the call — juggling a plate, glass, camera, notebook, pen, purse, and cell phone is one skill I’ve yet to master — but got the message. “SOhO!” I said to my comrades, and off we went. SOhO was buzzing and the patio was the place to be. We met more peeps, soaked up some rays while sucking down Artiste wine and SOhO grub (fried artichoke hearts entirely too delicious for this world), and then soldiered on. Time was getting short, so we ran to Delphine Gallery, tempted by the promise of Sunstone. After that, we reasoned we probably had time for one more, so we went across the street to Fast Frame, where we got a taste of Casa Cassara’s wine, Tuttini’s white-bean puree, and Paul Cumes’s fantastic paintings. By then, all judgment was out the window, so we opted to hit Indigo, as well, where we found Buttonwood wines and Opal’s awesome curry vegetable empanadas.
From there, it was on to the Sunken Gardens for the after-party, which was already going off. George Thurlow, in what may have been his final official act as publisher of The Independent (sniff), generously filled our glasses and the folks at Jaffurs hooked us up with the good stuff. Eats from Bouchon, Elements, Savoy Truffle, and El Cazador wowed the crowd; King Bee kept the peeps grooving on the dance floor; and that amazing sun stuck around for as long as it could. Talk about a smart party! And speaking of party smarts, on Friday morning I felt a million times better than I had any right to. God bless PartySmart.
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