Paris Provocation

A blind dégustation among wine experts in Paris 1976 put Californian wine on the map and began an ongoing conflict of taste in Californian and French wines.

This intimate gathering was the impetus for the SFMOMA’s new multimedia show, “How Wine Became Modern: Wine + Design 1976-now.” The exhibit looks back at the past 30 years of the relationship between wine and design primarily in California but inevitably shores up the influence of French oenological culture.

Among the impressive array of art and design works that trace wine’s rise to cultural prominence are two remarkable scent installations. The exhibit represents a curatorial approach that strives to create a new kind of atmosphere with the help of interactive sound, video and scent media. According to the museum’s curator Henry Urbach, the art and artifacts that make up this exhibit produce a “physical and discursive space” which engages visitors in a collective experience of wine as art, design, culture and community.

The first scent installation is a series of modern glass beakers mounted on an opaque glass wall, full of various types of wine with aeration bulbs that enhance smelling of each wine. Above each vessel are descriptions of the wine organized by quite imaginative aromatic labels. Each aromatic descriptor is accompanied by an explanation of its historical origin and marketing value. My personal favorite of the series is “Hamster Cage.” From the other side of the wall, the installation takes on a more voyeuristic and visual dimension as one sees the shadows of visitors tentatively stooping down to peer at or inhale something from obscure vessels.

Sissel Tolaas‘ piece is easy to miss but for the small plaque indicating her reproduction of the scent of a 1976 wine that earned a rare 100 points from a young Robert Parker. Tolaas drank the wine and analyzed the chemical composition of its odor on her breath using headspace technology. She then recreated the odor compound and put it into a container of white paint. This paint was finally applied to a small alcove in the corner of one of the galleries.

Such a complicated yet undoubtedly pleasurable project seemed to produce confusion and skepticism among the visitors. Many seemed to think they didn’t get it, perhaps owing to a weak sense of smell or were convinced that this was “some arty BS,” as one woman put it. Her bold statement resonated with those around her who preferred to think that it was a joke piece rather than admit they didn’t smell what the artist herself smelled. A sort of olfactory Emperor’s New Clothes?

Given that Tolaas is a fan of her provocateur predecessor, Marcel Duchamp, I am inclined to think that her piece is partially ironic but also challenging to an American audience afraid of shoving their noses right up to the paint on the wall, which is precisely what it took me to really get a good whiff. (I admit that I waited until no one else was around to see me do this.)

While the more daring visitors tried to smell the odor by rubbing the paint delicately with their fingers and sniffing those, I took a cue from my dog. He has taught me that the best way to smell some objects is to put your olfactory receptors as close as possible. As soon as I was alone I pushed my nose smack in the middle of the alcove and rubbed it around, sniffing all the while. And having been a bartender for years, I can tell you that it most certainly smells of stale wine breath.

“How Wine Became Modern” invites your eyes, ears, hands and noses (alas, there are no taste installations) to enjoy wine and design at the SFMOMA from November 20 2010 – April 17, 2011.

Scents that Heal

DON’T MISS THE LAST TALK OF THE SUMMER GARDEN SERIES

This Sunday September 12, 2010 1-2pm

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden at the University of California Botanical Garden.

Admission is free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students, FREE for UCB students).

ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED. Call 510-643-2755 to reserve  your spot.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SERIES…

Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm.

Tea Time

This SUNDAY August 29, 2010 1-2pm

Join Olfactive and Toshiko Ueda, educator at the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco and proprietor of Atelier B Pastry in San Francisco gives a presentation on the role of scent in Japanese tea ceremony in What the Nose Knows series at the University of California Botanical Garden.

Admission is free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students, FREE for UCB students).

ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED. Call 510-643-2755 to reserve  your spot.

*     *     *

DON’T MISS THE LAST TALK OF THE SUMMER GARDEN SERIES!

September 12, 2010 1-2pm    Scents that Heal

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SERIES…

Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm.

birds do it, bees do it

This SUNDAY August 15, 2010 1-3pm

Join Olfactive and Matt Osowski, biologist at WRA, Environmental Consultancy, and wetlands and California native plants expert, leads a walking tour of the California Garden focusing on fragrant plants, flowers and pollination in What the Nose Knows series at the University of California Botanical Garden.

Admission is free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students, FREE for UCB students).

ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED TO 30 PERSONS. Call 510-643-2755 to reserve  your spot.

*     *     *

DON’T MISS THE LAST TWO TALKS OF THE SERIES!

August 29, 2010 1-2pm    Scent and the Art of Tea

Toshiko Ueda, educator at the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco and proprietor of Atelier B Pastry in San Francisco gives a presentation on the role of scent in Japanese tea ceremony.

September 12, 2010 1-2pm    Scents that Heal

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SERIES…

Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm.

learn about natural perfumery this SUNDAY

Join Olfactive and perfumer Laurie Stern of Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery for the next scent lecture Honoring Antiquity: The Art of Natural Perfumery in What the Nose Knows series at the University of California Botanical Garden this Sunday August 8, 2010 1-2pm.

Admission is free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students). After the talk, guests are welcome to explore the rest of the Garden on their own.

ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED TO 30 PERSONS. Call to RSVP at 510-643-2755

Honoring Antiquity: The Art of Natural Perfumery

Natural perfumery is an ancient art form that consists of capturing the essence of flowers, leaves, and woods and mixing them to create something new and delightful. During this event, Laurie Stern, the artisanal botanical perfumer behind Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery, will share her expertise and sense of delight in the world of natural perfumery. You will have the rare opportunity to experience some of Laurie’s aromatic treasures from all over the globe. Laurie will also share perfume stories from antiquity to the present that are inspiring, rich and sensual.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS LECTURE SERIES…

Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm.

UPCOMING TALKS

August 15, 2010 1-3pm    Birds Do It, Bees Do It

Matt Osowski, biologist at WRA, Environmental Consultancy, and wetlands and California native plants expert, leads a walking tour of the California Garden focusing on fragrant plants, flowers and pollination.

August 29, 2010 1-2pm    Scent and the Art of Tea

Toshiko Ueda, educator at the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco and proprietor of Atelier B Pastry in San Francisco gives a presentation on the role of scent in Japanese tea ceremony.

September 12, 2010 1-2pm    Scents that Heal

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden.

join us at Olfactive’s first Scent Event

Do you smell?

Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held on select Sundays in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm. Each talk lasts approximately 1-2 hours. Admission is and free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students).

ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED TO 30 PERSONS.

Schedule of Events

August 1, 2010 1-3pm    Awaken Your Senses

To kick off the Nose Knows series, Gina Zupsich, Olfactive Scent Institute founder, introduces a nose-guided tour of the herb garden. She will show some techniques to maximize your olfactory experience and highlight how some of these plants are used in cooking, health, beauty and magic. The Garden’s own herb horticulturist Elaine Sedlack will be present to answer questions.

August 8, 2010 1-2pm Honoring Antiquity: The Art of Natural Perfumery

Natural perfumery is an ancient art form that consists of capturing the essence of flowers, leaves, and woods and mixing them to create something new and delightful. During this event, Laurie Stern, the artisanal botanical perfumer behind Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery, will share her expertise and sense of delight in the world of natural perfumery. You will have the rare opportunity to experience some of Laurie’s aromatic treasures from all over the globe. Laurie will also share perfume stories from antiquity to the present that are inspiring, rich and sensual.

August 15, 2010 1-3pm    Birds Do It, Bees Do It

Matt Osowski, biologist at WRA, Environmental Consultancy, and wetlands and California native plants expert, leads a walking tour of the California Garden focusing on fragrant plants, flowers and pollination.

August 29, 2010 1-2pm    Scent and the Art of Tea

Toshiko Ueda, educator at the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco and proprietor of Atelier B Pastry in San Francisco gives a presentation on the role of scent in Japanese tea ceremony.

September 12, 2010 1-2pm    Scents that Heal

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden.