October 2016

Art in Fermented Form

Thursday, Oct 6, 2016

When talking about art I sometimes find it is useful to make a distinction between “craft” and “art”. A current project of mine for New Holland Brewing (whose slogan has been “Art in Fermented Form” since their inception) helps illuminate this.

We used to call them microbrews. Now it is Craft Beer. What would make it ART Beer? 

I consider “craft” the skills it takes to make something. I appreciate good craft. Sometimes I don’t even like a piece of art, but I admire the skills (the craft) behind it. I appreciate that NHB bothered to learn their craft way back when as struggling craftsmen in a tiny place on Fairbanks.

Art, however, elevates craft. It takes those skills and adds something more. It helps us make connections. It adds to the craft. I think NHB has done that with their beer (I am a fan, can you tell?), but more recently they have done it with their new space.

The new space is in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is called the Knickerbocker, and I’m currently creating all sorts of art for them. One of the paintings is based on the name, so I did a little research. I learned that knickerbockers are what we now may call knickers and that the early Dutch in New York wore them (hence, the Knicks basketball team). I learned that Washington Irving, who wrote “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Ichabod beer!), also wrote “Rip VanWinkle” under the name Deitrich Knickerbocker. THEN I read some of “Rip VanWinkle” and found the passage where he sneaks a drink of these dwarves’ beer and finds it to be in the style of a “good Hollande” and can’t stop drinking it! I have worked for years on the craft of applying paint, but I hope this illustrates a little of my mind as I attempted to make connections and create art.

Here’s another thing about art – it invites others to participate. So if you can make it to Grand Rapids, check out the Knickerbocker and enjoy some Art in Fermented Form as well as Art About Art in Fermented Form.