“Arts connect the Artists to the people, and through them, the people are connected to the Artists.”
What do wine and arts have to do with each other? Year after year, I find myself further away from my creative side. I have been in the wine/spirits/and events business space for the last ten years, but I have been an artist (although on an extended hiatus) since I was able to hold a pencil. Life has its way of dividing the right and left-brain hemisphere collaborations, thus creating a gap that’s hard to unite without conscious intentions. Like many, the pandemic offered a period of great reflection, which led me to conclude that Art and Artistic methods need to become a much bigger part of my life. I decided to design an event concept that would celebrate this personal reflection, while acting as a milestone launching pad to challenge the limiting noise of “sticking to one thing” and “not spreading yourself too thin.” I wanted to creatively bring something to life that embraces our multitude of talents and interests, that celebrate those things at an event that is conceptually meaningful.
A Seed of Idea to Paper
Pencil to paper and lots of doodling is how ideas come to life for me; and that is exactly what I did on December 31, 2021, when I feverishly began sketching and writing down ideas to bring to fruition in 2022. I come from the professional world of wine and spirits and I’m also a life-long lover of the arts. It was then that I decided to dedicate my 2022 to experiences that incorporate “having good taste” into the visual arts in as many areas of life as possible. Behold, A Multisensory Experience – AMSE NYC was born.
First Up, and the Next One
March 20, 2022 was chosen as the inaugural date for the AMSE NYC event because it’s the Spring Equinox. Spring is symbolically associated with renewal, bloom, and growth; and I know my fellow New Yorkers are thrilled for the winter to finally be over! Perfectly aligned on a Sunday, which we all know as “Funday,” the timing was strategically set for the event to start after brunch and before dinner, so the attendees could make it a full-day celebration. My vision was to have an event that attracts people of all walks of life who enjoy things of good taste, by engaging their senses through a combination of wine, spirits, food, fashion, arts, and a dynamic network of exciting people. My focus was on creating memorable moments that were conceptually meaningful, artistically integrated, marketable, and highly engaging. This was the first of an ongoing series of events similar in nature that will follow the Equinox cycle, always on a Sunday (or immediately thereafter): September 25, 2022, is next AMSE NYC event.
The Conceptual Difference
As a visual artist myself, I believe a strong concept is everything. What differentiates a beautiful work of art from an extraordinary piece is the concept and the story behind it. An event to me is an installation art piece; and is essentially a work of art that brings together different elements that ultimately force participants to “feel” while “trying” something new. This is rooted in the philosophic goal of creating a multisensory event that delivers on the concept of “peak experience.” The three features that make for a peak experience are fulfillment, significance, and connectedness.
We often have peak experiences during an apex when our minds, bodies, and senses are fully engaged; much like the mental state that occurs during the creation and enjoyment of art. The poet Fernando Pessoa said, “The value of things is in not the time they last, but the intensity in which they occur.” It is in this spirit that we were curating a fun sensory exploration in which “tasteful” haute art is meant to inspire a peak experience. Renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that peak experiences “can make life worthwhile by their occasional occurrence.” I’ve had the privilege of adding to the quality-of-life metrics for my event patrons, to start out strong this year with an exciting and unique NYC peak experience on the first day of Spring 2022.
Mission: Pair & Integrate
During my inaugural event on March 20, 2022, I was able to showcase the talents of the visual artists I admire, and amongst them are the vivacious artist Beatrice Jousset Drouhin – Contemporary Half Figurative Artist; colorful artist Fernando Silva – Contemporary Impressionist; and the illuminating artist Mr. John Wright – Neo-Expressionist. I had invited Fernando Silva to be the featured artist at my inaugural show, which meant taking a deep dive into his artistic world to extract conceptual elements as the inspirational bases for my event. I have been a fan of his work for a very long time, and I revere his bold use of colors, and the ways in which he finds his muse in daily life, pop culture, and in his love of fine wine.
For the event concept, the featured artist is much like the main course at a wine dinner, everything pairs with that style and flavor to create a theme with the artist as the focal point. I literally paired everything to that artist, traveling the eras of inspiration from 1890-1902 Impressionism to the Contemporary period. In planning the event, we walked the line in our senses from those periods for the precise curation of the food, wine, spirit, and musical selections. Opera singer Laura Hollis, of the Barrett School of Music was my featured musical lead along with musicians Ling Ling on the Piano, and Erin Pitts on the Viola, performing selections from the Impressionism movement. I paired their music to the wines of that era such as the Tornatore Winery Rosso from Etna DOC, Italy, with the late 1800 Italian Opera piece. To further add to the experience, top New York City sommeliers, Chris Dooley of Daniel, Ben De Hoog of Jean George, and Mariah Bryant of Bowery Meats, were invited to present a special featured wine and cocktails between performances with a story and flavor profile that paired with the style of the featured artist.
In Good Taste
The inaugural event was a private event, attracting attendees that love fine art and all things in good taste. We had 120 attendees from various backgrounds, and the energy was incredible. You can’t go wrong when people are brought together by common interests. One amazing thing about bringing that idea to life was the buy-ins and the support offered by incredible talents and generous sponsors. They all came together to enhance the experience for attendees. “Wei has a tremendous vision, not only with AMSE, but to empower all those that she works with” said Diana DeLucia, President, Golf Kitchen Magazine. Special thanks to my media partners from the Venü Magazine, Golf Kitchen Magazine, and Launch Global Media for their support in promoting the positive message of the event.
The arts and music were carefully curated, and equally so were the wines, spirits, and foods. At 3:00 p.m. the event kicked off strong with Marshallberg Farm Osetra caviar bites paired with Maison Champagne Drappier, and a fine selection of Macallan Single Malt Scotches. Delicious bites from the brilliant Greek chef Maria Loi were generously on display to be enjoyed.
The Portfolio Consultants from E&J Gallo Winery Megan Van Der Stad and Danielle Cetani were among the highlights at the center of the room offering sample selections from J Vineyards, and Pieropan, keeping the vibes strong. Alongside them were wine brand teams from Bodvar Rosé, Maison Joseph Drouhin. The suppliers sampled out their seasonal release, mingled with the attendees and enjoyed the energy of the event. The premium creative cocktails from Glenrothes, and Diplomático Rum were introduced at their pop-up bar hosted by brand-selected bartenders and their brand ambassadors.
Caviars, wines, cocktails, opera, jazz, visual arts… and wait there’s more. As a personal challenge to raise this immersive event to another level, I thought why not co-design a custom wearables with the talented fashion designer Karli Shea. These one-of-a-kind fashion art pieces were fitted on brilliant statuesque female models and presented as canvases for displaying the original artwork of Silva. One dress was intentionally presented blank, to be painted on live during the event. This was a very ambitious vision with only three months to turn it into a reality. After an extensive amount of production work, the colorful artwork on the uniquely structured designs were brought to perfection by the models: Julia Rickert, Anna Applebaum, and Renae Beaumont. “It’s very inspiring to be around people who are so passionate about what they love to do,” said Karli Shea, assistant designer at House of Jason Wu, “the energy of being around others with the same drive and passions is exciting and energizing.” I watched in awe, as these beautiful models in one-of-a-kind art pieces walked the final runway, which was perfectly paired with a musical performance by opera singer Laura Hollis who exquisitely sang an assemblage of contemporary pieces. The experience of the final runway walk was further enhanced with a special pairing of a Traditional Method sparkling wine, in magnum format, by the renowned Italian winery Decugnano Dei Barbi.
Dare to be Different
Magical things can happen when one escapes their comfort zone to try and add value personally, professionally, and societally in a unique and artistic way. When ideas are set in motion, opportunities often follow. I have met so many incredible people through the process of launching this vision. “The event was a 360-degree immersive experience from the visual elements to the wine pairings. I loved being able to speak with an artist about their work while simultaneously watching another artist bring a painting to life on a dress. It was a full-scale demonstration of creativity and appreciation all in one,” said Olivia Marcus, fashion writer and influencer with 140K+ followers. “What stood out to me most about the event was the prioritization of details. Whether it was learning about the notes in a glass of wine, hearing the notes of live music, or reading the notes beneath a work of art, each detail came together to create an energetic orchestration that you can truly only experience in New York City.”
What do wine and arts have to do with each other? They both share in a core that is rooted in good taste, creativity, and a strong sense of style and meaning. While eating and sipping well, I am honored to bring a Peak Experience art installation to life that toast to our humanly multitudes.—