Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wine, Women but alas, no song with a little coda to hot sauce at the end.

Yesterday I attended the press preview of the new show on wine at SFMOMA. Judith H. Dobrzynski has doubts - I share them with her in the comments section

SFMoMA's Wine Exhibit: Shall We Drink To Celebrate Or Forget?
"Now comes How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, opening on Saturday. It seemed only right to weigh in. Do we applaud, for the same reasons, or think it's pandering and pop"

My edited comments to her about the exhibit (plus addendum)  - with a longer review to come:

Dear Ms Dobrzynski: The museum is and isn't pandering and I suspect your mixed feelings were shared by most of the press at the preview. It's a complex show with some fascinating information but overshadowed by the long, wordy, and pretentious opening speeches. This was combined with an appalling lack of historical accuracy about wine, the wine business and indeed, wine culture, whatever that means. What went unsaid - or at least openly unstated (IMHO) - is that wine is a billion dollar business and that the museum wants to reach out to a new demographic group as well as add some dollars in their bank account.

The wall fresco is portraying the 1976 event when California won three best prizes against French competition is amusing,  But not as amusing as its recreation in the movie, Bottle Shock with Alan Rickman at his campy best as the British wine dealer who set the contest up. One major inaccuracy is the museum's contention that the 1976 judgment didn't change the status of California wines. But it most certainly did! TIME Magazine published George Tabor's article about the event that changed the way the world perceived wines from American and put Napa Valley on the map. Chateau Montelena's Chardonnay was memorialized at the Smithsonian soon after the historic event. 

 I am a Philistine in that I liked the wine glasses while finding them just too chi-chi consumerist for words and was irritated by the inevitable gift show. as  I also found the wine labels stylish examples of miniature art. Unfortunately, I don't know if there is a way around the fact that wine culture, at least in Northern California, is bound up with a certain life style or appeals to those who aspire to that life style, which requires money. Sometimes lots and lots of money. In fact, I would have respected the exhibit a lot more if I felt that the museum was more honest but there was a lot of intellectual terminology being tossed around. But, as they say, your mileage may vary. Sometimes you get in vino veritas and some times you don't.

Furthermore,  I could have done without the snarky museum staff member who told me to read the wall labels in response to a question.

 'Black Rosy,' by Niki De Saint Phalle Court. Courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum

The other news du jour is that the Christian Science Monitor discovers that women artists are discriminated against. Oh gasp! The horror! How very unusual! I think that I've read a variation of this article every year for the last 40 years and have yet to see significant change.
Christian Science Monitor

Fellow Blogger Matty Boy posted about hot sauce and started a nice little comment thread with several hot food aficionados weighing in. In  case you were wondering, Sriracha IS a food group.

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