If you like the fruit of the vine and the creativity of the mind, hop onto Santa Barbara Downtown Organization’s annual Art & Wine Tour this Thursday, May 22. Combining the pleasures of 12 galleries/venues, 19 restaurants/food purveyors, and 13 wineries/distilleries, the event helps raise funds for the Downtown Holiday Parade in December. “As a downtown merchant, I love the energy and participation,” said George Merino of Chase Bar & Grill, which will be serving chicken piccata and penne alfredo at Churchill Jewelers. “It brings together a unique, diverse, and fun crowd that fits the spirit of our beautiful city.”
With a logo glass in hand, attendees wander through participating galleries, restaurants, and wine-tasting rooms, discovering sips, bites, and insights that all culminate in a party at the Santa Barbara Club, where DJ Darla Bea will be spinning tunes. “After having DJ’d many an art gallery or exhibition opening, I coined a term for the early evening music I play that goes so well with a wine glass in hand: Schmoozic™, music to schmooze to,” explained Darla Bea. “I graduated from UCSB with a degree in art history, so the music, from Pérez Prado to Marvin Gaye to Pharrell, will be artfully crafted to create a fun and lively atmosphere that will keep people moving and grooving.”
There’ll even be some hard spirits from Cutler’s Distillery at the party. “Craft spirits are very much like paintings, sculptures, music, or other forms of art, which appeal to the visual, textural, or auditory senses,” distiller Ian Cutler explained. “Spirits, on the other hand, appeal to our senses of taste and smell.”
Well before the final party, though, event-goers will get to enjoy all sorts of inspired pairings, from Ca’Dario Gallery, with food from Ca’Dario Pizzeria, of course, showing the work of high school student Sam Brenner, whose work brings together bohemian mysticism with strong modern elements, to Santa Barbara Arts showing vintage Santa Barbara photographs (1880s-1940s) from the Joel Conway Historical Photograph Collection, while pouring Grassini Family Vineyards wine and offering apps from Cielito. “It brings out many people who otherwise don’t come downtown,” Santa Barbara Arts owner Lynn Adams pointed out. “It’s a fun social-networking event, and the after-party is a blast.”
New spots also hope to catch some of the heat off the event. “As a new business, this is the first year that Captured Spirit Photography will participate in the tour,” said gallery owner Stacey Byers. “I see it as a great opportunity to meet new people, to bring additional exposure to my business, and to celebrate Downtown Santa Barbara’s wonderful restaurants and wineries.” Her spot will feature photographs by Gary Robinson as well as some of her own portraits.
The event is also a coming-out party of sorts for the Santa Barbara Public Market. “It’s the perfect event to introduce the market to new and returning guests in search of handcrafted, regionally sourced, and sustainably made food and wine in the downtown corridor,” explained the market’s general manager Ashleigh Davis, who said that Crazy Good Bread Co., Culture Counter, Santa Monica Seafood, and Wine + Beer will be serving at the final party.
Perhaps Mitchell Sjerven, owner of bouchon, which will serve citrus-cured salmon on sourdough crisps with sauce gribiche and braised short rib on white polenta with tomato-salad garnish at the final party, summed it up best. “It’s a great way for locals to get out and see a little art, walk around the city center, and end up together at a party,” he said. “What’s not to like?” He also sees the tour as an integral part of keeping Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara. “I find seeing a lot of the local small-business owners out enjoying themselves a great way for all of us to remind each other of each other,” said Sjerven. “And seeing John Palminteri’s moustache is always a bonus.”
For tickets to the Downtown Art & Wine Tour, which begins and ends at the Santa Barbara Club (1105 Chapala St.) on Thursday, May 22, 5:30-9:30 p.m., see downtown-art-wine-tour.nightout.com or call 962-2098 x22.