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Wine with art? It’s a perfect pairing at ‘First Saturdays’ in Paso

A prominent county arts organization is reaching out to North County art lovers. On Jan. 7, Arts Obispo launches “First Saturdays: Wine and the Arts,” a monthly art walk featuring stops at a handful of Paso Robles galleries and wineries. The program builds on previous wine-and-arts events organized by Studios on the Park and other businesses.

“We’re so thrilled to be extending our reach north of The Grade,” said Jenna Hartzell, program director for Arts Obispo, or, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council.

According to Sasha Irving, programs director at Studios on the Park, Paso Robles tasting rooms have been hosting arts events for a few years. Her organization became involved in November 2010.

“We were trying to get locals and visitors excited about an art scene in Paso Robles,” Irving said.

However, she added, “The cultural face of Paso Robles is changing and growing. (We) needed the administration of a larger arts organization.”

With First Saturdays, organizers hope to replicate the success of Arts Obispo’s Art After Dark program, entering its 14th year in downtown San Luis Obispo. According to Hartzell, as many as 400 visitors flock to up to 30 venues each month to check out the latest art shows.

Hartzell noted that the Paso Robles program will place more of an emphasis on Central Coast wines.

“One thing that Paso has that downtown San Luis doesn’t have is tasting rooms,” she said, adding that First Saturday participants are encouraged to pour locally crafted vintages. “Wine and the arts they’re such a natural pairing.”

Five businesses will participate in January’s First Saturday festivities, which last from 5 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 7: Clayhouse Wines, EarthTones Gifts and Gallery, Pianetta Winery, Studios on the Park and Vale Fine Art.

The artwork on display ranges from yoga-inspired paintings by Katrina Toppano to works by more than 500 students at Pat Butler Elementary School in Paso Robles.

“It’s just a wonderful opportunity to honor the artistic talents of these kids,” Irving said of the students, who range in age from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Hartzell hopes that more businesses will eventually join the First Saturday program.

“We offer a lot of perks as far as participants go,” she said, “lots of opportunities to advertise what they’re doing.”

For more information on First Saturdays: Wine and the Arts, contact Arts Obispo at 544-9251 or http://www.art sobispo.org.

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