Summer Wine & Brew-First Stop of the Weekend
If you’re looking for the perfect spot to start a summer weekend, Farmville has the place. On June 3 the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) kicked off its Summer Wine and Brew Series. With several galleries of art as a backdrop, there’s food and drink and plenty of friendly discussion. The community-oriented gatherings will continue each Friday night through August.
“Wine and Brew grew out of The Bakery closing last year,” LCVA Executive Director Rachel Ivers explains. The Bakery, a part of Farmville and its culture for over a decade, offered sandwiches, a variety of imported wines and cheeses and a congenial atmosphere.
“A lot of us who worked along Main Street used to gather at The Bakery every Friday afternoon,” Ivers says. “In a couple of hours, we got a lot done in terms of connecting with the community. It was a really good way for us to know what was going on.” When The Bakery closed last year, Ivers decided to expand the scope of the weekly Main Street meetings — and Wine and Brew was born.
“The Wine and Brew Series was an effort to replicate that feel at The Bakery,” the LCVA director adds. “And obviously we wanted people to connect with the art.” Ivers, an art history major who completed her undergraduate work at the University of Central Florida and received her graduate degree from George Washington University, came to LCVA three years ago from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
“I always laugh when people here say it’s hot and humid here,” Ivers says with a smile. “It’s nothing compared to Florida. I like this area — I like the climate and the seasons.” In organizing the Wine and Brew events, Ivers looked to the community for curators to make the wine and beer selections for each event.
“We worked with our caterer ARAMARK for that,” she explains. “We would request a certain wine or beer, and ARAMARK would procure it.” Wine and beer choices, she adds, are affordably priced. The food, also provided by ARAMARK, is complimentary.
“When someone sponsors a Wine and Brew they basically provide the cost of the food,” Ivers says. During the academic year, each Wine and Brew has a seasonal theme. Food choices generally follow the theme. “For the Summer Garden Opera, we went with a European platter,” Ivers adds. “For the Fourth of July we might have little sliders and watermelon.”
Community organizations frequently take advantage of the informal format to explain their programs. “They can set up a table with information — it’s a relaxed atmosphere to explain what they do for the community,” Ivers says. Local musicians also add to the festive mood once or twice a month.
Aside from the fun and fellowship at Wine and Brew events, an underlying purpose remains — to provide a setting for informal discussions that may, and sometimes do, lead to formalized plans. Art, of course, is always at the heart of LCVA’s Wine and Brew events.
“We like to connect literature with art,” Ivers says. “We have two exhibits this summer that bookend our Wine and Brew Series.” Opening on June 3, “Enduring Legacy 2017” highlights works of art acquired for LCVA’s permanent collection since 2015.
“We try to highlight works that represent each area of our collecting,” Ivers says. “This exhibit gives us a chance to brag about the new things we have.”
Opening Aug. 26 is “Welcome! / ¡Bienvenidos! : The Art and Illustration of John Parra.”
“John Parra is an award-winning illustrator of Latino-themed children’s books,” Ivers notes. “The postal service just released a stamp series on work Parra did.”
Also available for Wine and Brew attendees to peruse is the Camp Unity Exhibit that showcases approximately 100 works of art created by 2016 participants in Camp Unity, a program for adults with developmental challenges.
With the Wine and Brew Series in its second year, Ivers sees the events as a win-win for both LCVA and the community. “We want people used to being here on Friday nights during the summer,” Ivers concluded. “People like coming here, and we believe bringing them downtown is important.”
Summer Wine and Brew is held at LCVA on Friday evenings through Aug. 25 from 5-7 p.m.