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Two of my lifelong abiding interests are art and wine. I find them both intriguingly complementary.

My love of art did not arise lately. As a college student and young professional, I liked visiting galleries and museums, looking through art books, and buying art pieces that I could afford. Even before establishing a contemporary art gallery in the Capital Region, I found ways of including art venues during holidays, even on business trips.

On April 2001, I opened the Martinez Gallery in Troy, N. Y., in that way changing the primary focus of my professional life from higher education to one that now relied on my collector’s instincts to develop an art business. During the past 21 years, wine has been a constant and helpful companion in as many as 100 openings of art exhibitions, usually accompanied by offering wines to visitors and clients. I had always enjoyed the hunt for inexpensive, yet satisfying wines. Now, as the owner of a gallery often giving strangers free wine, this has become a requisite task. But, more than festive occasions, what is it that draws my attention to these two special interests?


Wine and art are both immersive experiences that often alter how people feel. Those changes in feeling are sometimes visible to those around. For example, I have observed gallery goers whose faces have shown obvious fascination with particular paintings and sculptures, sometimes unable to restrain themselves from audible reactions. I’ve also found touching the look of happiness when someone, smitten by a work of art, acquires it. As a collector, I understand the sense of satisfaction the buyer enjoys as I’ve had similar reactions when buying an art piece I’ve wanted. I recall how, at a business meeting in Washington, D.C., I could not stop thinking of a huge Paloma Cernuda charcoal that I saw earlier in the day during a quick visit to a gallery. It was so gratifying to make arrangements to have

it shipped to me; since then, it’s traveled with me to several places.

When people ask me if a particular artist represents a good investment, I usually answer that they should buy only what they love. While there are famous, and almost famous, artists whose works increase in monetary value, sometimes dramatically, they represent a smaller portion of the art market. I tell my clients to look for skilled artists of high quality whose work they like. If they find one piece especially appealing, then that is the best value to be had. Developing a relationship with a gallerist is a good way to find out more about artists and talk about how one responds to specific works. After all, buying art is an emotional investment – and that’s the best guide for most non-hedge fund investors, a category that includes most of the art-buying world.

Wine, of course, contains alcohol, and that can have a decided physical effect on people. For those who like wine, even the anticipation of certain drinks, such as sparkling wines,


can bring about an expectation of enjoyment. In the world of wine, the colors, the fizz, even the shape of the glasses themselves, are part of their lure and excitement.

At one point, when I began to take wine courses, I had to learn how to savor the wine without much drinking. This meant that I had to learn how to spit, in public no less. At wine tastings, a kind of steel spittoon, or spit bucket, is provided so that participants can taste the wine and not be impaired by imbibing too much. Much can be discovered about the personality of a wine by looking at it, inhaling its aroma, and allowing it to fill the mouth, before disposing of much of it in the bucket. Later, when I organized wine programs at two colleges, I wanted students to know that making frequent use of the bucket was a good thing, ensuring everyone remained sober.


“Let’s take a little bit of time to talk about the art, and the wine that I will likely offer you. We’ll have a good conversation.”

Learning about wine is like learning about art, not only an emotionally immersive experience but also an intellectual one. As one becomes more knowledgeable about each, the involvement becomes deeper and more satisfying.

It is in the wine bottle itself that the marriage of art and wine finds visible expression. With branding, most wineries give a great deal of attention to their logo and the image in the wine label, outside of those elements required by law or custom. Older wineries underscore their historic appeal by maintaining classical images in their labels while New World wines often display bolder designs in their use of color and images. Winemakers wanting to attract younger wine drinkers know the value of distinctive brand images. Think of Australia’s Yellow Tail and California’s Barefoot wines, among others.


Probably the most famous combination of wine and art is exemplified by France’s Chateau Mouton Rothschild. This extraordinary winery has commissioned a leading artist each year since 1945 to design its label. Among the American artists selected to do labels have been Andy Warhol, Robert Motherwell, Jeff Koons, and Keith Haring. One can enjoy these labels, and many more, at the winery’s website or in person in Bordeaux at the Chateau’s Paintings for the Labels Room. Quite a treat as well is a tour of their Museum of Wine in Art, which I visited many years ago.

Next time you come visit me at Martinez Gallery. Let’s take a little bit of time to talk about the art, and the wine that I’ll will likely offer you. We’ll have a good conversation. And possibly a memorable experience for the palate and the eyes.