One of the most commonly asked questions here at Imagery Estate Winery is, “Where do you get the artwork for your labels/walls/gallery”? The answer is fairly simple, but it all started with a chance meeting between Joe Benziger and a local artist named Bob Nugent, who were brought together in the 1980’s when they both helped break up a fight at a polo match (yes, really). The two got to talking and the idea for the Imagery’s label artwork was born. Since then, Imagery has benefitted greatly from this partnership, and has been able to bring great art and great wine together with a unique piece of art perfectly paired with each unique Imagery wine.
A Professor Emeritus at Sonoma State University, Nugent is also a highly respected American Artist. He has participated in over 150 solo exhibitions and 580 group exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. Since receiving his Master of Fine Arts Degree in painting from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1971, he has been awarded numerous grants and awards including a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, a Tiffany Foundation Fellowship, a Fullbright Travel Grant and a California Arts Council Grant for his work in Brazil. In 2006, Bob received the Gourmand Award from France as the author of the best illustrated wine book in America.
Nugent lives in Healdsburg with his wife Lynda. They have three daughters. We asked Bob to give us a peak into his process for choosing label artists. Bob, take it away!
As Curator of Collections for the Imagery Estate Winery, I am responsible for managing, documenting, installing and caring for over 420 works of art created for the winery. With the help of my assistant, Kara Sybesma, I select the artists and write contracts for the pieces they create. Kara and I are at all press checks to make sure the images are reproduced as close to the original as possible since a four-color press does not give as many options as an artist has with his or her palette.
Artist portfolios are reviewed every couple of months. Selected artists are invited to produce a label for a future release at Imagery. I do not accept unsolicited label images from artists and most of the artists I find are through my travels to art fairs, various exhibitions and while I am traveling for my own work as an artist. All are chosen based upon their own creative work.
Selected artists are then invited to produce an image under contract with the winery. Artists are given complete freedom as to their approach. We simply ask that in some way they incorporate/include the Parthenon image (all or part) in the piece. This piece of the art ties the Benziger Family Winery to the Imagery brand, since they are sister wineries, (the small-scale Parthenon can be found in the vineyard at Benziger). There are no deadlines or submission dates to meet. I feel we get better work when the artist is unrestricted and not under a deadline.
The collection represents not only a broad cross-section of styles and techniques, but also includes artists at various levels of notoriety and acclaim. Included in the collection are internationally recognized artists Sol LeWitt, Judy Pfaff, Nancy Graves, Squeak Carnwath, John Baldessari and Terry Winters; along with nationally recognized and regional artists such as Susan Dopp, Chester Arnold, William Wiley, Gary Nesbit and Pegan Brooke. Of course, artists are selected for their talent, not their notoriety.