Chris Cullina, Argyle director of sales and marketing, presents the winning artists (from left), Lindsey Walker, Christin Engelberth and Subin Yang, all students at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and their art during the official launching of “The Art of Sparkling.”
##Photo by Greg Kozawa for Argyle Winery

Brutally Honest Art

Young artists create labels for Argyle bubbly

By Peter Szymczak

The crafts of making art and wine intersected Sept. 10, when Argyle Winery unveiled a new series of labels for its 2013 Vintage Brut.

Argyle commissioned three students from the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) to convey themes of “celebration” and “renewal” as they relate to the winery — from its vineyards and winemaking process, to its employee culture and recently renovated “Tasting House” — a work of art unto itself — in downtown Dundee.

Christin Engleberth, Lindsey Walker and Subin Yang each created an artwork based on ideas gleaned during a field trip to Argyle’s winemaking facility and vineyards. They also took inspiration from the people who work there.

“All three of us came here physically to experience the place. It would have been impossible to come up with these three pieces if we hadn’t come here physically,” said Yang, an international art student from South Korea. “Hearing stories about the science and the experimentation that went into building Argyle’s vineyards and creating its sparkling wine helped me focus my work on the spirit of renewal.”

Inspired by Matisse’s paper cutouts, Yang’s illustration depicts the hills of Dundee on an indigo blue summer night; in the background, hands gently support the land, conveying the concept of terroir.

“It’s a big opportunity for us to have our artworks out there commercially and professionally,” Yang said. “This is something I’d like to do as a professional once I get out of school.”

The illustration by Engleberth features a pair of playful rabbits that reside in Argyle’s gardens, while Walker took a more abstract approach — a white, yellow and black composition of shapes that evokes movement, place and sunlight.

“Usually I make work for myself,” Walker said. But this project was different. “I wanted to be true to myself, but also really consider their perspective, without compromising anything of my own artistic practice. … I think it speaks to who they are, but also who I am.”

Argyle’s original plan was to choose their favorite among the three and use it on a single special bottling. But in the end, all three artworks impressed them, so they decided to create a three-pack called “The Art of Sparkling” ($100). Proceeds will go toward the artists’ continuing education, as well as scholarships for future art students. The winery is also selling prints of the label illustrations, with proceeds going to the individual artists.

Argyle promised this art competition will become an annual tradition.

“The spirit of Argyle has always been closely connected to the arts,” said Chris Cullina, director of sales and marketing at Argyle. “The ongoing scholarship will serve as a creative partnership with PNCA, creating a connection between our community and winemaking. The artists will hopefully hold a mirror up to us and show us something about ourselves that we couldn’t vocalize before.”

Don Tuski, PNCA president, said, “It’s been magical to see how artists can work with the business community to support art and design — and great wine.”

Founded in 1909, PNCA is an art and design college based in Portland’s North Park Blocks. Art instructors there held a juried competition earlier this year and awarded commissions to the three students.

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Peter Szymczak has written about food, beverages and culinary travel for Northwest Palate, The Oregonian, Sip Northwest and other publications. He lives in the heart of wine country, Dundee.

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