Brews & Brushes 4: A Lesson in Abstract

Brews & Brushes #4 – A Lesson in Abstract

Thursday night January 21st I attended the fourth Brews & Brushes at the ValleyArts Firehouse Gallery. Two good friends of mine, Naeema Campbell and Krystal Lemonias, host the monthly event in partnership with Brew Council and ORNG Ink. Brews & Brushes was a fluid mix of good company, fun, education, art, tasty snacks (I discovered my love of brie) and beer.

I walked into the gallery, and greeted by the charismatic Roger Appollon, a founding member of Brew Council. He offered one of the four beers that we would taste that night, The Tell Tale Tart. This kicked everything off.

Myself, and local visual artist Vlad Jean, joined the small group in a circle as Naeema introduced this edition of Brews and Brushes. She proved to be very knowledgeable about the beers already with fun facts about Tell Tale Tart, which was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe. This is when I realized there was much more to this event than a simple paint and sip. I was going to learn about various beers, art, and more.

The Tell Tale Tart was my favorite beer of the night. I usually gravitate toards wheat beers like Allagash White and Blue Moon. I learned the tart is due to the use of wild yeast. Brewed in Kansas City, Missouri, the Boulevard Brewing Company learned how to control the wild yeast, giving the wild ale its tart flavor. This was the first time I tried what was considered wild ale. It was also refreshing to see that their were beers the Brew Council were even trying for the first time at this event.

As I tried to sip moderately on my cup Krystle took over for Naeema. She explained that artist, Frank Stella, inspired the night’s lesson. Frank Stella painter known for his abstract style living in New York City right now. Abstract art takes much planning, and organization. The more important component when creating an abstract piece was color. A lesson for me who thought abstract art meant free for all. After a couple more minutes of discussion about the form, we sat for the painting lesson.

Guests were able to choose between one of two images to draw. Varying in difficulty and famous works by Frank Stella. I chose the ones with lots of straight lines and boxes I thought might be easier. I learned painting techniques from talented painter, Krystle who is already an art educator. An important one for the night’s lesson: how to paint lines.

Roger informed us that the beers chosen for Brews and Brushes # 4 were also, what him and Anthony (Brew Council) considered to be abstract beers. The second tasting was the Blood Orange Gose by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company from California. The “tangy” taste was thanks to the addition of Blood Oranges giving it a citrus after taste.

I admitted to Krystle that I had not painted in years, and sitting next to a master like Vlad did not make it any easier. But I was able to get into it once I finished tracing my lines. Roger passed around the third beer, Lower De Boom another California brewery 21st Amendment Company. This particular beer was stronger, (11.5% alcohol content) than most beers and when everyone tasted it you could hear a lot of, “wooo!” or “Now that’s strong”.

I learned the guy sitting next to me was a retired graphic artist with a band based in Brooklyn with a band called the Dad Beats. He chose the more difficult image with more details and rounded lines. He joked about missing ctrl z (undo keyboard shortcut). His uses of blue and green hues were bold and beautiful. To the left of me, was Vlad who confessed he was having a hard time. If you have seen his precise and detailed portraits, they are the opposite of abstract.

Naeema and Krystle sparked up an interesting conversation about the recent “paint and sip” fad. I was curious because I noticed there have been a surge these types of events in both New York City, and New Jersey. The conversation came down to the idea of the creative adult. They seem to help with the busyness of our everyday life. It is stress reliever to be able to spend a couple hours a week devoted to creativity and socializing, and alcohol doesn’t hurt either.

About an hour or so later the room was quiet as everyone worked with acrylic paint to fill in the blocks in between the lines and sipped beer. At first I had doubts about my ability but soon it began to come together. The farewell beer of the night was the La Terrible, a stout brewed in Quebec, Canada. The Belgian Strong Ale was dark and a good one to end the night with. Kind of like dessert.

I was able to learn more about my friends, painting, art, Frank Stella and new beers that I can not wait to share with everyone. Brews and Brushes was such a cool event and am glad that there is an ongoing event like this the Valley Arts District. You can take your canvas home with you; mine is already hanging up on my bedroom wall. I see it gaining momentum and am already anticipating next month’s event Tuesday February 23rd.

Photographs by Brew Council via Facebook

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