Televised baseball, indie crafts new to Walnut Creek’s Art & Wine Festival
By Lou Fancher
The excitement is rampant for Walnut Creek’s 36th annual Art & Wine Festival.
As expected, Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Jay Hoyer is hyped and thrilled about this year’s new features: Indie Craft Marketplace, Partida tequila tasting and, especially, a 15-foot digital screen in the Craft Beer Garden that will broadcast Giants and A’s baseball games without commercials.
The two-day festival at Heather Farm Park features live music by local and visiting artists, a lineup of “rising stars” showcasing community arts groups, the beer garden, artisan wines at the Premium Wine Tent, ethnic and traditional American food, fine art and crafts, and a kids zone.
Enthusiasm and energy aren’t exclusive to Hoyer and the sponsoring chamber’s team of volunteers who work behind the scenes to host the event. Among the participants in the inaugural Indie Craft Marketplace, a trio of East Bay artists offer heart-and-soul-backed insights into their work and first appearances at the festival.
John Bry’s hand-farmed since 2007 Perfusion Vineyard wines mark him as a micro-batch producer. Based in Wildcat Canyon, Bry produces olive oils and boutique, 1-3 barrel varietal red wines; a line of Dijon pinot noir clones; and a Frantic Manor blend that incorporates Perfusion petit syrah and Napa zinfandel.
Bry, a vascular surgeon with a surgical medical group on staff at the John Muir Concord and John Muir Walnut Creek campuses, is bringing several varietals to the festival.
The 2014 pinot noir is a garnet color with a palate that includes cherry and red fruits and flavorful toast and spice accents from new French oak influences. Crisp acidity and a lingering finish are its special features.
The dark ruby Frantic Manor has “oak, earth, notes of smoke and pepper on the nose; lush palate with dark fruits; vanilla notes from French oak, soft tannins and a long finish.”
A video on the Perfusion website, he suggests, allows people to completely experience the wines by traveling over the East Bay vineyard through the lens of a drone camera and learning about Perfusion’s history.
Like Bry, this is the first year Walnut Creek-based jewelry artist Cielomar Cuevas is at the festival.
“I will be showcasing the Geo Collection that includes a variety of jewelry designs including earrings, necklaces and bracelets handcrafted with sterling silver, bronze and quality leather,” she says.
Cuevas’ designs are inspired by architecture she admires for its minimalism and women “out there rocking their style.”
“I value originality and believe that jewelry can change the way you feel and present yourself to the world,” she says. “Cielomar Jewelry is a modern jewelry brand for confident women who celebrate their individuality every day.”
About the local craft culture, Cuevas is proud. “I’m originally from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico and I moved to California in 2010. I fell in love with everything in the Bay Area, especially the beautiful landscapes, cultural diversity and creative community.”
Several hundred pieces of hand-thrown pottery by Pleasant HiIl-based artist Meredith Cooke-Young that will be on display are testimony to a decades long devotion to craft.
Drawn to the contrast between smooth, glazed surfaces and rough, exposed clay, her pieces have elements of surprise — a handle that looks like wood but is sculpted from clay, just one example.
“The Bay Area is and has been for years a place where fine crafts are appreciated and supported,” says Cooke-Young. “As someone returning to the craft world after 20 years in a ‘real’ job, I am encouraged by the reception my new work is receiving.”
Along with her colleagues, she believes all people deserve to have beautiful and often useful objects, tastes, sights and sounds in their everyday lives.