As my friend Dawn Ford remarked recently, “It’s great to eat caviar and drink wine in the middle of the afternoon.”
Especially if the day is your birthday and you are at Blackberry Farm with a bunch of nice folks listening to a truly fascinating artist who is in East Tennessee as the guest of the Knoxville Museum of Art.
That was the occasion on Friday, March 2, a birthday I share with Jim Clayton and Dr. Seuss. Dawn and I were attending the Artist’s Luncheon spotlighting painter Hunt Slonem, the featured artist of the KMA’s L’Amour du Vin 2012 weekend, a huge annual fund-raising wine auction. Hunt Slonem is a true character. His primary medium is oil and he describes his technique as “wet on wet.” But it is the subject matter that is so compelling to me: monkeys, birds and rabbits are among his favorite subjects. But he also is obsessed with saints and historical figures. And color, color, color.
“I believe in painting floors, walls and ceilings of a room the same color,” he told the 50 or so folks gathered in the sun terrace of The Barn at Blackberry Farm. “But I won’t paint the trim in a room of an old building. I leave the peeling trim.” Slonem has ample experience with this. He owns three huge historic mansions: two plantations in Louisiana and the Cordts mansion in upstate New York. Click here for a wonderful profile of him by Rita Braver a few years ago on CBS Sunday Morning. Click here for a fun read about him in the New York Times.
Part of what makes Slonem so much fun to listen to is his wholehearted belief in interacting with the supernatural. His stories are full of references to things he has been told by psychics, fortune tellers, healers, mystics, sages, ghosts and dead people including Abraham Lincoln and Rudolph Valentino. Seriously. And his occasionally self-deprecating humor makes his talk and slide-show of his work so much fun. “I’m a firm believer,” he said, “that if you hate something, you should buy a lot of it. I hate depression glass. But I kept seeing it in flea markets and now I have about 100 depression glass candlesticks and they look kind of great!”
Here are a few photos of this wonderful Friday experience. I am afraid I am becoming addicted to Blackberry Farm. When anyone mentions they are having a charitable event there, I practically race to give them my credit card number! This could become a very expensive habit.
According to Sam Beall, Edge Hill is the second oldest wine vineyard on the North Coast of California. “It’s the Chardonnay that made California Chardonnay famous,” he said. Here is a link to Edge Hill, but the website is quite limited. If you’d like to learn more about it click here for an interesting article about Samantha’s father.