Ceago Series at Ceago Vinegarden: an account of events

My exhibition of the 'Ceago Series'  at Ceago Vinegarden was one of my shortest and most eventful exhibitions. On the morning of  Oct 10 my son Mario and I transformed the covered dining  area that faces the Biodynamic Courtyard into a brightly illuminated exhibition space.

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(To view all the paintings in this exhibition and to learn more about Arminda Flores scroll down to my last two blogs)

Arminda Flores, who had flown up from Michoacan, Mexico for the event began preparing her first dinner to celebrate the birthday of Franz Weber who holds the world's ski speed record (140 mph!). He and some of those attending the dinner had bicycled up from San Francisco, over three days, on what they whimsically called the 'Tour de Franz".

Arminda Flores

The evening began quietly with a delicious meal.

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Sheila Fetzer sang a deep and soulful repertoire during the meal, to much applause.

After the meal we  sang happy birthday to Franz.  Arminda Flores emerged from the kitchen and sang 'Las Mañanitas', Mexico's 'Happy Birthday', to Franz and then charmed the crowd with two songs in her native Purepecha.

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After supper,  Sheila Fetzer prevailed on Lake County DA, Jon Hopkins, to sing for us. He sang late into the evening while many of us gathered round a massive bonfire in the courtyard.

Oct 11

Morning

After breakfasting with his entourage in the main hall, Congressman Mike Thompson joined me to view the exhibition.  I explained  that I chose to document  Ceago Vinegarden not only because of it's beauty, but also because of the sustainable agriculture that Jim Fetzer practices here. We agreed that Ceago is a real asset to Clearlake.

Early afternoon

Forty eight guests attended the afternoon reception and lunch. There was a lot of interest in the show. Some members of the Lake County Arts Council suggested that I conduct painting workshops at Ceago.

Late Afternoon

Friends and students began arriving for the evening dinner:

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I was  delighted when Regina Maciula arrived representing Michael Dean of the law firm  Wendel Rosen Black & Dean .  Michael Dean had originally suggested that I check out Ceago as a painting subject

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Seventy-two guests attended the dinner which included Sopa Tarasca Patzcuaro Style Tarascan Soup

Pollo Con Mole Michoacano Arroz A La Mexicana Chicken with Michoacan Mole With Mexican Rice

Calabacitas Con Elote & Crema Fresca Petite Squashes with Fresh Baby Corn and Crema Fresca

Ensaladas Organico Hecho con Vinagre de Ceago Organic Greens Tossed in Ceago Estate Vinaigrette

Chilies Rellenos De Queso En Salsa De Tomate Arrozo y Frijoles Mexicanos Salsa Fresca, Guacamole, Chips y Tortillas Hecho en Casa Chili Rellenos Stuffed with Cheese in a Tomato Sauce and Refried Beans

Fresh Salsa & Guacamole with Crispy Chips Handmade Tortillas

Postre ~ Dessert Flan & Ate a Morelia Michoacan Original

Wines for This Special Occasion ~ Hand Selected by Jim Fetzer

Arminda and her husband Kevin Quigley personally served  the Michoacan desserts.

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Quite amazingly, after cooking for seventy two people,  Arminda closed the evening by singing three songs in her indigenous Purepecha language and one in Spanish.

(To hear Arminda Flores singing and to see the entire Ceago Series scroll down to the previous two blogs.)

Painting at Ceago Vinegarden

For a year and a half I have been painting a series at Ceago Vinegarden on Clear Lake. Completed six years ago the vineyards, gardens and winery were designed, planted and built by Jim Fetzer with the help of his son Barney, as well as a contractor and four or five workers. The buildings are Jim's  interpretation of Mission architecture. Substantial and  beautiful they give the impression of having stood here for generations. The Mission flavor of the buildings and gardens is tempered by an imaginative but natural eclecticism that evokes memories of Provence and Italy. Walking from the main courtyard to the long dock on the the lake one passes through a large field of lavender which is bounded by a stands of hundred year old olive trees. The vertical accents of cypress trees are used to great effect throughout the property. Behind the vineyards the cypress are interspersed with the blue-green whorls of agave. This bio-dynamically farmed property sets a standard of beauty that makes me wish the whole shoreline of Clear Lake were subject to such mindful development. I've included a couple of excerpts from my diary to give you a sense of what it was like working here .

Holdsworth painting Ceago vineyard tree and mountains

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This morning I was painting a view through an opening that overlooks the entrance to Ceago when Jim called me over. He indicated the white head of a bald eagle glinting from the crown of a tall oak. Jim says they come in winter to fish the lake. He thinks they are nesting around here somewhere.

In the fields this afternoon I could hear the beat of 'banda' music on a pruner's radio. I couldn't see them through the vines. They're still half a field away. I'm set up in the same location I worked a year and a half ago when I painted the grape harvest. It's a different scene in winter. In place of the exuberant foliage and bunches of grapes there's a delicate tracery of reddish vines among rank on rank of poles and guy wires. The two paintings will make an interesting contrast at the exhibition.

Ceago vineyards during pruning holdsworth painting

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The pruners have reached the rows where I'm painting. There's a strange twanging sound. It's the sound of them pulling cut vines free from the metal guy wires as they advance up the rows from the direction of the lake.

Ramon, the supervisor, has agreed to pose as a pruner so I can put a figure in the painting. The other workers joke with him. There is something surreal about his standing so still while they move quickly from vine to vine. After he's posed he brings over the orange water container and hangs it in my view.

'That's so everyone can see we give our workers water."

The full series of paintings will number about twenty-two. They will be exhibited at Ceago Vinegarden next September. Until then none of them are for sale.

For further information about Ceago Vinegarden log on to: http://www.ceago.com