Art can take you on a journey to worldly places and down rabbit holes. It can conjure emotions, some buried deep, and really make you think. Well, so can beer! So why not pair the two? That’s just what Salt Lake City’s own Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and the Utah Brewer’s Guild have done with their Fluid Art series! They’ve created a cultural event around craft beer and contemporary art that will give you pause while simultaneously quenching your thirst.
Upon arrival, patrons are given a pint glass and a “brewtinerary” and set free to wander through the museum’s halls, taking in the current installations and filling their glasses with 2 oz. samples of the brews they’re paired with. Local breweries are there to interpret their own creative offerings which they’ve chosen specially to illustrate the accompanying work of art. Contemporary artists are inspired by modern realities facing our world. Brewers are inspired as well; by culture, experience, and life. These two worlds mesh amazingly well! Come prepared for a good time, but leave with quite a few intellectual morsels to mull around in your head for the next several days.
I attended the event earlier this year in May. The art was often mind-bending and just as often a very relevant narrative of our collective earthly endeavors. From concepts of technology and how it affects us in our everyday lives to moral questions surrounding our quest for safety and security, Fluid Art delivered in a big way. Each brewery put a lot of thought into how to pair their beer with their assigned art piece, which ultimately did a lot to enhance what was already a sensory experience. Added to the physical presence of these works of art seen three-dimensionally through the eyes, are the elements of smell, taste, and the feel of the beverage moving through the mouth and down the throat lending to an incredibly immersive experience that is truly unique.
There were 12 total pairings, each from a different Utah brewery. It was a lot to get through, but a rewarding feat. I enjoyed each of them immensely, but my favorite was probably the “Tug (Peaks and Valleys)” paired with Epic Berliner Weisse. “Tug” is a sculpture featuring a neutral colored fabric tethered in multiple places to a moving crankshaft. The viewer is meant to observe the fabric being shaped and reshaped through no control of its own. Berliner Weisse is a sour beer made with both bacteria and yeast. After the brewer lays the groundwork with the bacteria to create the sourness, the yeast takes on its own momentum inside the tanks. This process recalls the effect of the motorized crankshaft generating the passive motion of the cloth in the sculpture. For me, this was the most distinctly tasting beer and the most mesmerizing work of art.
Look for a more in-depth documentation of the May 2015 installment of Fluid Art on our Crafty Beer Girls Facebook page. For your own beer + art pairing experience, don’t miss Fluid Art later this month, Friday Oct 23rd from 7-10pm. Tickets are available through ArtTix. Because of the growing number of Utah breweries, there will only be 8 featured at the upcoming show, but you’ll find the rest highlighted in a future iteration of Fluid Art in 2016. You may want to put this cultural, entertaining evening into your regular art and beer event rotation, and plan on attending every spring and fall!
Update: Fluid Art May 27th, 2016. Tickets on sale here.