It's a brisk, rainy Napa day. I'm heading downtown to meet an artist who does 'still life' in the wine space. The destination? 1313 Main, an elegant restaurant I've had dinner at once before. The roads are dark and slick. The doused lanes barely discernible under the shiny street lamps. I find parking right away (unusual), and am greeted by le artiste, Penelope Moore. She hurries to the passenger side of the car to explain our early (4pm) appointment, needs to be held elsewhere as 1313 doesn't open until 5pm. I am a little disappointed. I truly wanted to hang there. The vibe in their bar and main dining room is eclectic and I've only been once. On that day it was packed and sat in an area away from the action. Next time.
"What a decidedly extraordinary day to be in the vineyards"
She explains we have a wonderful Plan B. Now we are headed to the Silverado Trail. The winery is Luna Vineyards, the very first stop on the Trail in Napa. She has over 30 pieces of her work on display here. The wine tasting room is home to her first collection of abstracts. I am excited. My preference was to see more of her abstract pieces with her and that wish is going to come true.
As we arrive at Luna, I am thinking to myself, "What a decidedly extraordinary day to be in the vineyards". The sunset exquisitely nods to the vines as it hovers back behind the trees lighting Luna Vineyard in a most wonderful way. The yellow flowers of mustard are waving their stunning petals and catching the glow of the descending light. We walk to the entrance and I am taken by the palpable Tuscan theme. We are greeted by her dear friend Oscar Riveiro, a manager at Luna Vineyards. He takes us out to the front of the property and pours two exquisitely bright glasses of Pinot Grigio, while pointing to the vines in front of us "These are our Pinot Grigio vines". I sip the delicious golden nectar...and listen as he talks further about the wine. Penelope and I both are captivated by the incredible light, she grabs a lemon off the lemon tree and sets the stage for her photo, I take my glass and center the sunset through the wine. It is truly a magical moment.
We walk back to the winery talking about kids, family and life, and then are directed to a large semi private room so I can begin the interview. The recorder is at hand, partially for the possibility that a sound bite may end up on my website, but most importantly to capture the details of Penelope's background and get the critical info on her social media handles of @WineArtLife and more detail on her journey. We're talking about how she is articulating her art, and how she is capturing the essence of wine in Napa.
To understand the journey of evolution, it is key to understand the history behind it.
In her own words, "Everything comes from adversity".
During an art festival in Salt Lake City, Penelope gets some surprising advice from her father who truly wants to see her succeed. She's spent thousands to get into this show so sales are key to the effort. He does what any good father would do. He stands at the entrance of the booth and hands out her business cards. In Penelope's words, "This energy creates resistance and turns people away". Most people at these events are more interested in having snacks and browsing not really interested or invested in buying art. They also don't realize how difficult or expensive it is to get into the art festivals. To overcome this challenge, her father offers a suggestion, "Tomorrow you need to bring your easel and paints.". Penelope is willing to try anything. She's got over $3,000 in cash invested and is not going to settle for a zero sale. She changes her energy from focusing outward to focusing inward. Painting in her booth changes everything. There is no barrier between her or the people visiting the show. It leads from one person stopping out of curiosity to multiple people and turning it into a crowd of interested observers.
This type of interaction not only changes the energy, but they have an opportunity to experience the art first hand. They become not only part of the process, but part of the art. They see how it is created from how the colors are mixed, how the brush is held and paint is applied. Their interest fuels the process. It is probably the most vulnerable aspect of an artist's process to witness. The process resulted in her going from zero sale to closing $7,500.00 in business, taking a chance and innovating.
Inspiration. Penelope starts with photography. It's the first step in her creative process. This process has generated over 30,000 photographs resulting in an exhibit at Sterling Vineyards. It's a joyful process.
Speaking to the creative population who may be struggling with creativity and breaking through, she had this advice... "It's not easy. If you really want it you will do whatever you need to to make it work". For her personally, she does not have a Plan B. This is it. When you are challenged with adversity you learn to innovate.
An innate skill she was blessed with as a child called synesthesia.
Likely the most exciting aspect of her innovation to date is the bold move from still life painting to large format abstract. She's taken the articulation and interpretation of the taste of wine to her abstracts. This is where her super-power is. An innate skill she was blessed with as a child called synesthesia. The basic definition of synesthesia is one sense is perceived simultaneously by one or more senses. In this case, Penelope actually intuits wine descriptors into color at the same time she may be tasting and/or reading wine flavors. This incredible gift has made her resource for abstracts endless and her interpretation of wines via her art plausibly unique. In her words, "I read the words and see the colors...".
You can learn more about Penelope Moore and her art at penelopepaintings.com