Boston’s ICA and Central Bottle Make an Excellent Pairing

The tasting flight at Central Bottle: expensive, but not skimpy.

The tasting flight at Central Bottle: expensive, but not skimpy.

Perhaps it is because there is no love lost between me and any art produced after, say, 1940 that my two visits to Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art have both involved alcohol. Or perhaps it’s just because libations are just so libatable.

Hello, art-lover.

Hello, art-lover.

Whatever the root cause, my first visit to the ICA was a success largely because I toured the nearby Harpoon Brewery ahead of time and took advantage of the 30 minutes of unlimited tasting post-tour. (Actually, it would be more accurate to say that — so enthusiastic was I during the tasting period of our brewery visit — the 15-minute walk to the museum, the hour or so perusing various installations made of Scotch tape, safety pins, and disassembled Volkswagens, and the 15-minute walk back to the Harpoon parking lot were all necessary before it was again acceptable to pilot a vehicle.) Scotch tape cloud sculptures have never looked as beautiful to me as they did on that day, through a haze of hefeweizen.

My second visit to the ICA took place yesterday, when I found myself (lo!) with a rare weekend in town. Heading over to the museum with Noah, we decided to catch the closing weekend of This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. It featured the usual roundup of 80s artists — there was the Basquiat; there, the Koons; and over there, the Richter, along with a Cindy Sherman and a few Mapplethorpes — and was (at least to my unstudied eye) intelligently curated along interesting themes (gender, AIDS, Reagan, nuclear disarmament, poverty, etc). So often the entire decade of the 80s is reduced to a sort of caricature of Gordon Gekko/legwarmers/neon/Vogue (or, my secret dream: Gordon Gekko wearing neon legwarmers and dancing to Vogue) that it was actually sort of refreshing to be reminded that, oh yeah, it was also a time of activism, ambivalence, apprehension, and discomfort.

Then I wandered into a room with a video installation of two hipsters (oops, I mean artists) wearing coonskin caps playing bluegrass in front of various snowy mountain/forest scenes and realized it was time to leave.

So the two of us headed back over the river to Central Bottle, a fantastic wine store that is actually closer to Kendall. Despite being continually overwhelmed by my email inbox, this is one mailing list up for which I have never regretted signing. (Take that, Winston Churchill.) Every Thursday they have a “wine bar,” and occasionally they’ll do one on Saturday, too. This was one of those Saturdays. Fifteen dollars gets you four generous tasting pours, and for extra cash you can get a cheese plate, charcuterie board, or various salumi. I was especially interested in this Saturday’s event because it featured the wines of Sybille Kuntz, one of the few female vintners in Germany. She makes riesling in the Mosel valley… and was there, at the store, to meet and greet the drinkers. I learned, among other things, that she’d brought the 2006 vintage with her on the plane in her carry-on luggage. I snapped up the second-to-last bottle just as the main wave of tasters was coming in.

Ninety minutes, too much duck liver pate, and not nearly enough delicious riesling later, we headed next door to Flour Bakery for cookies.

Next weekend, I intend to repeat this theme with a different sort of art and a different sort of decadence: brunch at Mistral followed by an ikebana demonstration at the MFA, followed (getting ambitious here!) by a visit to the Gardner, followed by who-knows-what.

Sometimes one gets so used to rambling — Maine to New Hampshire to Connecticut to Rhode Island to Berkshires and beyond — one forgets the delights in one’s own backyard.

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