From water to wine

From water to wine
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Her work transcends labels!

An urban landscape painter will display her renderings of two of the borough’s iconic bridges — the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge — at the opening of her solo exhibition at Brooklyn Oenology Winery in Williamsburg on June 2. Artist Jen Ferguson — who has also designed wine labels for the show’s host — says that the bridges became her artistic muses when she moved from upstate New York to Dumbo.

“I was looking at both those bridges every day, day in and day out. They became my visual landscape,” Ferguson said. “That was what was around me all the time. I think I became a little obsessed.”

She had a minor culture shock when the rolling hills she was used to were replaced with tall towers and gothic-style bridges. An artist who studied at Pratt Institute, Ferguson wanted to paint the borough’s bridges with the same beauty she saw in the bucolic hills of the north, she said.

“I was coming from the countryside and moving to Brooklyn — what I’m seeing around me all the time, I came to see the beauty of that,” Ferguson said. “I started painting the architectural landscaping with the same approach you’d paint a pastoral countryside.”

The owner of Brooklyn Oenology, Alie Shaper, spotted Ferguson’s work and asked her to design two labels for the winery. The first, for a red wine called “Motley Cru,” used a Dumbo street scene that Ferguson had already painted. The second, for a Riesling titled “Friends,” features an assortment of adorable animals, which Ferguson created especially for the label.

The June 2 opening will feature $2 off glasses of “Friends” and a 10 percent discount on bottles. But Ferguson herself will not be purchasing too many bottles, she said.

“I love all wine, I would say I’m a big fan of red wine, but I’m such a lightweight,” she said. “I’m like a one glass kind of artist. I’ve never been able to be a wine drinker and work at the same time.”

The best reason to pick up a bottle, however, is not always the contents, said Ferguson.

“A lot of the reason that people buy wine is for the label,” she said. “And I’m guilty of that too, I pick wine for labels.”

The artist now lives in Carroll Gardens and has her studio in Gowanus, so she no longer has a view of Brooklyn’s beautiful bridges — but she is still painting the world around her, she said.

“Now I’m working on the Gowanus, which is a little less romantic than the Brooklyn Bridge,” she said.

“Between Worlds” exhibit at Brooklyn Oenology [209 Wythe Ave. between N. Third and N. Fourth streets in Williamsburg (718) 599–1259, www.brooklynoenology.com]. Opening reception June 2, 7–10 pm. On display until June 21.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
A friendly glass: Artist Jen Ferguson designed the label for a bottle of “Friends” Riesling.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini