Downtown Chico hosts The Orion Art and Wine Walk

Downtown Chico turned into an outdoor art gallery on Oct. 7 as the city hosted its annual Art and Wine Walk.

Since 2015, the Art and Wine Walk has been an event where local businesses participate in displaying art by local artists, as well as serving beverages such as wine, beer, cider and various spirits.

Each location hosted art by one or more artists, ranging from paintings, photography, glass art, and sculptures. Each booth had one brewer, distiller, winery or cidery serving drinks.

People were given glasses that could be used anywhere to try a wide variety of alcoholic beverages. Most servers offered two drinks and guests could choose between them.

The Chico Paper Company, an art gallery and custom framing shop, displayed art from multiple artists. Bethany Abt, gallery employee, shared a little about their gallery.

“This gallery has been around for over 40 years,” said Abt. “We always accept art from local artists as well as local jewelry makers.”

Arquils Wines serves red and white wines in the gallery. The sauvignon blanc they offered had a sweet, savory flavor that left me wanting more.

At the Diamond Art Project Rainforest Hotel displayed their mosaic artwork. They are an organization that runs all kinds of educational art programs for all ages and have previously worked with Hotel Diamond when they did ‘Ascent’, a sculptural mosaic featured there. Farmer’s Brewing Company hosted their drinks at the hotel, one of which was their Farmer’s Light Premium Light Lager. The lager had a nice, fresh taste.

Allies Pub hosted music for the event with indie pop band Brittany and the Blisstones performing. They hosted the British Bulldog Brewery, whose brews are regularly served at the Allies Pub. I tried their Blackout Dry Chocolate Stout, which almost tasted like black coffee. The featured artist was Nikolai Larsen, who specializes in large-scale mural art and architectural painted environments. His murals were featured prominently in the pub.

Larson said Allies Pub was great to work with and that they treated his art with care.

“Ali’s pub was very friendly. They really took care of me,” Larson said. “They were able to showcase the art and still be able to keep the British theme.”

Larson was originally from San Francisco, but has been living in Chico for some time. He says Chico has a great art community.

“It’s like living in an art commune. There are huge promoters of art here,” Larson said. “Once I got a headache because I spent the whole day talking to people about art.”

Larson says she has been making art since she was five years old. He has a lot of experience, including designing rock posters in the seventies. He continues to make art today.

“I’m semi-retired, but I still make art. I am currently working on a mural,” he said.

When asked if he had anything to say to aspiring artists, he said, “Thank you for watching my work. Places like Chico State and Butte College have great art programs with very talented people. Most artists I know are in our 70s, but I still try to design like I’m creating for space!”

Nikolay is part of the board of directors of the Chico Art Center. He wanted to specifically note two art events held at the center: Creative Fusion, an annual event that showcases art by students ranging from Jr. High School to High School, all from Chico, and the Discovery Series, which is an annual exhibition dedicated to encouraging a wide range of local and regional artists in the exploration of their respective media and conceptual development.

The night was lively with people looking at art, drinking alcohol and checking out local businesses. Needless to say, this was a popular event with all types of people from twentysomethings to older. The weather was also perfect, not too hot to walk around town.

While I wasn’t able to visit every venue, below is a list of the businesses, artists, and servers that stood out to me:

1. The Allies Pub – I really liked the Larsen mural that adorned the walls of the pub. Also the British Bulldog Brewery chocolate stout was good, although I don’t usually care for bitter flavors in drinks.

Brewer: British Bulldog Brewery

Artist: Nikolay Larsen

2. Chico Paper Company – Delicious wine and gorgeous local art.

Winery: Arquils Wines

Artists: Jake Earley, Larry Lee, Janet Weidel, Lea Gadbois, Pamela Robinson, Bill DiGrazia, Isla Kerr, and Ellen Hayes

3. Hotel Diamond – The mosaic artwork from the Rainforest Art Project was stunning and eye-catching. The Farmers Brewing Company booth seemed to have the longest line of any I saw.

Brewer: Farmers Brewing Company

Artist: Rainforest Art Project

4. Sweet Chico Confections – Abbott’s art using ocean pebbles, beach glass, wood, twigs, cones, feathers and more was lovely and gave off a great 3D look. These were probably my favorite pieces of art I saw.

Cidery: Honest Cider

Artist: Judy Abbott

Sam Kayes can be found at [email protected]

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