New Art in Old Bottles | Arts & Entertainment | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

New Art in Old Bottles 

Cultured tastes mingle as the State Wine Store doubles as art gallery.

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Salt Lake City is always looking for new places to quench its thirst for creative spirits. While the local scene has always found strange venues to complement the idiosyncratic flavors of the local aesthetic, one site on tap for art exhibition is perhaps the least likely. The downtown State Wine Store has been uncorking some of the most recent vintage of the area’s art on its walls since its remodel two years ago.

“We were trying to think of something to make the walls above the wine racks a little bit more pleasant,” explains Ron Harris, assistant manager. Harris approached Lila Abersold at the Utah Arts Council for her expertise in selecting local artists whose compositions would be especially well-suited for the outlet’s updated decor. While the Arts Council doesn’t provide any funding for the exhibits, artists are allowed to post prices of works for interested collectors—and unlike galleries, the DABC doesn’t take any commission for art sold through display there. “We don’t get any monetary benefit,” adds Harris. “It’s just a nice touch for the community as well as ourselves.”

The most recent artist to provide a tasting of her artwork at the store is Marcee Blackerby. Her style of collages and Joseph Cornell-style boxes and larger pieces composed largely of neckties serves as a kind of visual aperitif that whets the palate of the art lover as well as the oenophile. Her more sizeable pieces, like “Every Time You See a Dot Take a Deep Breath”—composed completely of neckties with different kinds of dots, mounted on canvas—and “Wall Street”—made of business-style ties emerging vertically like skyscrapers from the bottom of the canvas—are visually intoxicating. “Side Me With Sixes” is a cowboy-themed collage that mixes up its composition stirringly. Smaller boxed pieces, of which “Pandora” and “Red Belle” seem of the same vine, were specifically created for the exhibit, with grapevine themes running through them, while “Keepsakes” is composed of vintage World War II memorabilia.

There are no mind-blowing masterpieces here, no profoundly shocking or overwhelmingly beautiful images—just perhaps a palate cleanser in between trying to decide between different brands of Bordeaux, as tasteful as the ties she uses to create them with. They go as well with the selection of wines in the store as, well, a perfectly ripened Brie. Abersold’s assistant, Laura Durham, explains that Blackerby’s pieces were found to be especially fitting to exhibit at the store because “they have a lot of bright colors, and are visible at a distance on their walls.” Blackerby was also chosen as one of 12 International Fellows in the visual arts by “VSA arts,” a nonprofit outreach organization providing artistic opportunities to people with disabilities, in the International “VSA arts” Festival in Washington, D.C., in June. “I’m always hoping for love at first sight,” she says of her inviting works.

Other artists who have displayed at the store include Ted Remington, Bevan Chipman and Judith Meyer, whose visual themes of food and wine also lent themselves especially well to the store, Harris believes. The exhibits rotate every three months, with the changing of the seasons, the turning of the leaf, appropriately enough. “It’s nice to have a change of scenery,” Harris says of the art. “It may bring in more people; we hope to have a symbiotic relationship with the artists.”

While the artwork might sometimes be a little dizzying to the customer who has taken a nip or two before entering the establishment, the pieces might also prove as conducive to conversation as a good cocktail. Marcee Blackerby, State Wine Store 255 S. 300 E. 533-6444 through September

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