Left to right, Isabel Beard and, Juwan Anderson, both of Syracuse, participate in the Wine Experience at the Everson Museum. Photo by Michelle Gabel | Central Current

Valentine’s Day is a special time for love and the Everson Museum of Art honed in on helping their guests create memories. This year, the museum ushered in the day of love with pre-Valentine’s day activities held on Thursday, Feb. 9 – events for all guests regardless of their relationship status or gender identity. 

The trifecta of events: “I Love Me,” “Clay and Be Gay,” and “Valentine’s Day Wine Experience,” were a collection of themed affairs open to the public. Central Current stopped by for the festivities. Here’s a sample of what we saw:

I Love Me

Artist Tina Dillman, left, visits with Hannah Collins, of Syracuse, during the I Love Me event as they explore self-care through game-like exercises. Photo by Michelle Gabel | Central Current

The “I Love Me” interactive project designed by multidisciplinary artist Tina Dillman, allowed guests to explore the notion of self care through a series of game-like exercises and an intimate talk. The goal of this experience was to have each individual walk away feeling empowered. 

The project created by Dillman outlines three main points: mind, body, and soul, which included two correlating activities for each.

“Through the activities that happen, conversations about happiness and joy and purpose and self care had came out, and so, it was kind of about sharing experiences, and also getting people to possibly think about aspects of their lives,” Dillman said. 

Dillman said the activity enabled participants to think deeply about things in their lives they may not have thought of otherwise. The activity allows people to reflect on traumas, peeling back deep layers, re-centering with self, and working on healing.

“There was a greater sense of awareness relating back to self care and happiness and preservation, and also thriving,” Dillman said. She said the activity allowed participants to develop awareness about their own self care journey and what it means or looks like to each unique individual. 

Artist Tina Dillman, left, visits with Hannah Collins, of Syracuse, during the I Love Me event as they explore self-care through game-like exercises. Photo by Michelle Gabel | Central Current

“I created this work out of that necessity because I want to see the world thrive and I want to see people happy,”Dillman said.  

The exhibit included a large wooden booth and a table of self affirming memorabilia available for purchase. 

Clay and Be Gay

The museum held its first-ever queer-driven art instruction event, “Clay and Be Gay,” led by artist August Sable. The interactive experience focused on ceramics and pottery making. The ticketed event, which had 15 slots, was a sold-out affair.  

“I enjoy making art because it is a joy-inducing activity. You can get such a brain boost from a simple little craft or doodle,” Sable said. “And, it doesn’t have to be for anyone or for money or for the world to say it’s good or not, it’s just an activity that everybody should be able to enjoy.”

Along the room, tables were assembled into an L-shape to emphasize communal engagement among participants. Two separate stations with art materials and complimentary warm beverages and sweet snacks were available for guests to self-serve.

Artist August Sable, left, helps Miah Wilber, of Syracuse, with the pottery wheel during Clay and Be Gay: Hugs in Mugs ceramics class. Photo by Michelle Gabel | The Central Current

Sable, an artist and newcomer to Syracuse, hosted the event to create a more wholesome art community for queer people. Sable’s goal is to continue creating and hosting similar events throughout Syracuse. 

“If you have all of this community here, it just brings such an energy and everybody’s putting love into their work and inspiring each other, I think that’s wonderful,” Sable said. 

V Day Wine Experience 

The “Valentine’s Day Wine Experience” was also a sold out affair, having reached its capacity of 30 participants. The event was hosted by Jim Beckman, regional vice president of the American Wine Society. 

“Wines that reflect the spirit and excitement of the occasion such as a rosé (and not roses), a romantic red, or a sparkling wine best expresses the sentiment of Valentine’s Day,” Beckman’s invitation synopsis reads. 

The American Wine Society’s focus is wine education and appreciation. Event attendees learned about wine flavors and proper etiquette, while gaining valuable insight about various wine types.

The workshop served as a way to destigmatize the perceptions of wine by exposing adults of all socioeconomic status to wine. Beckman’s mantra is, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to drink good wine,” he said.

Every guest was dressed elegantly to fit the occasion and attentively listened to Beckman’s lessons. A young couple at the event shared with Central Current the personal significance of the event to them. 

“For me it’s just like learning about how wine is made because I’m not a huge drinker, so it’s my first time learning about it and tasting different types of wine,” Ato Arkhurst said.

“I also enjoy learning about how the wine is made because I do drink wine, but I just don’t really think about the different tastes and stuff like that, so it’s a cool experience,” Myah Taylor said. 

Both guests agreed the wine experience gave them a chance to learn together, have more things to talk about, and they enjoyed something as complex as wine, beyond its recreational aspect. 

Beckman hosts a free wine tasting workshop at the museum every third Thursday of each month. The event is open to the public.

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