Downtown Chico hosts Art and Wine Walk


Sam Kyes

Outside of Sweet Chico Confections. Photo by Sam Kyes.

Downtown Chico transformed into an open art gallery on Oct. 7, as the town hosted its annual Art and Wine Walk

Since 2015, the Art and Wine Walk has been an event where local businesses take part in hosting art from local artists, as well as serving beverages such as wine, beer, cider and various spirits.

Each location hosted art from one or more artists, ranging from paintings, photography, glass art and sculptures. Each booth had one brewer, distiller, winery or cidery serving up beverages.

People were given glasses that could be used at any location to sample a wide variety of alcoholic beverages. Most servers had two drinks to offer, and guests could choose between them.

The Chico Paper Company, an art gallery and custom framing shop, displayed art from multiple artists. Bethany Abt, an employee at the gallery, shared a little bit about their gallery. 

“This gallery has been around for over 40 years,” Abt said. “We always host art from local artists, as well as local jewelry makers.” 

Arquils Wines served both red and white wines at the gallery. The Sauvignon Blanc they offered had a sweet, delicious flavor that left me desiring more.

At the Hotel Diamond, the Rainforest Art Project displayed their mosaic art pieces. They’re an organization that holds all kinds of educational art programs for all ages, and had previously worked with Hotel Diamond when they made “Ascent,” a sculptural mosaic featured there. Farmer’s Brewing Company hosted their drinks at the hotel, one of which was their Farmer’s Light Premium light lager. The lager had a nice, crisp flavor.

The Allies Pub hosted music for the event, with the indie pop band Brittany and the Blisstones performing. They hosted British Bulldog Brewery, whose drinks are regularly served at the Allies Pub. I tried their Blackout dry chocolate stout, which had an almost black coffee-like flavor. The featured artist was Nicolai Larsen, who specializes in large-scale mural art and architectural painted environments. His mural art was featured prominently throughout the pub.

Larson said the Allies Pub was great to work with and that they handled his art with care. 

“The Allie’s Pub was very gracious. They really took care of me,” Larson said. “They were able to display the art and they could still keep the British theme.” 

Larson was originally from San Francisco but has been living in Chico for a while now. He says that Chico has a great art community. 

“It’s like living in an art commune. There’s huge promoters of art here,” Larson said. “I got a headache once because I spent the entire day talking to people about art.”

Larson says he’s been doing art since he was five years old. He’s had a lot of experience, including designing rock posters back in the seventies. He continues to be involved in art today. 

“I’m semi-retired, but I still do art pieces. I’m working on a mural piece right now,” he said.

 When asked if he had anything to say to aspiring artists, he said, “Thank you for observing my work. Places like Chico State and Butte College have great art programs with lots of talented people. Most artists I know, we’re getting up to 70-years-old, but I still try to design like I’m creating for the cosmos!”

Nicolai is part of the Board of Directors for the Chico Art Center. He wanted to give a special mention to two art events held at the center: Creative Fusion, an annual event that showcases art from students ranging from Jr. High to High School, all from Chico, and the Discovery Series, which is an annual exhibit dedicated to encouraging a wide range of local and regional artists in the exploration of their respective media and conceptual development.

The night was bustling with people observing art, drinking alcohol and browsing around the local businesses. Needless to say, it was a popular event with all types of people from twenty-somethings to older folks. The weather was perfect too, not too hot to be walking around town. 

Though I wasn’t able to visit every location, below is a list of the businesses, artists and servers that stood out to me:

 1. The Allies Pub – I really enjoyed Larsen’s mural art that decorated the walls of the pub. Also the British Bulldog Brewery’s chocolate stout was good even though I usually don’t care for bitter flavors in drinks.

Brewer: British Bulldog Brewery

Artist: Nicolai Larsen

2. Chico Paper Company– Tasty wine and gorgeous local art.

Winery: Arquils Wines

Artists: Jake Early, Larry Leigh, Janet Weidel, Lea Gadbois, Pamela Robinson, Bill DiGrazia, Isla Kerr and Ellen Heise

3. Hotel Diamond – the mosaic art pieces from Rainforest Art Project were stunning and eye-catching. The Farmers Brewing Company booth appeared to have the longest line out of all the ones I saw.

Brewer: Farmers Brewing Company

Artist: Rainforest Art Project

4.  Sweet Chico Confections – Abbott’s art utilizing ocean pebbles, beach glass, driftwood, twigs, pinecones, feathers and more was gorgeous and gave off a cool 3D look. These were probably my favorite pieces of art I saw.

Cidery: Sincere Cider

Artist: Judy Abbott

Sam Kyes can be reached at [email protected].