First Friday Santa Cruz

Pairing Fine Wine with Fine Art

Pairing Fine Wine with Fine Art

by Bree Karpavage

At the end of Pacific Ave and the cusp of the roundabout to the ocean sits Big Basin Vineyards Wine Bar, a beautifully crafted room of redwood and steel smelling of fermented grapes, good conversation and fine art. A fairly new addition to the downtown scene, Big Basin Wine Bar moved from Saratoga in 2021 to Santa Cruz – an extension of the popular vineyard and tasting room at the top of China Grade in Boulder Creek.

Long time wine-lover, club member and artist, Randie Silverstein has helped put this new wine spot on the Downtown map, curating First Friday exhibits since November 2022. A long time Santa Cruz Open Studios artist, Randie creates with crushed glass, forming colorful discs and unique installations. Her art curation skills just warming up as she invites both established and emerging artists into the space, pairing fine wine with fine art.

The current exhibition on view through April features the work of Brad Burkhart – a bas-relief clay artist who says his intuition is one of the primary tools of his work. Starting with a sketch flowing through his hands from the subconscious of his creative mind, Brad draws a fantastical scene. The scene has an ancient, mythological and feminine quality, telling a story only your imagination can make up.

Brad wouldn’t have it any other way. The mystery of his pieces and the engagement with art-lovers keeps a smile on his face and a conversation flowing through the room. As you peruse the wine bar with a beautiful glass in hand, Brad invites you to participate in a naming session for a yet-to-be-named art piece. Jot your idea on a piece of paper and slip it into the “Naming Box.” Brad claims that often people who participate have the same ideas – giving much merit to his idea of intuition’s play in art.

Brad in his studio – photo courtesy Randie Silverstein

With names like “Zen Lunatic,” “Spell of the Golden Egg,” and “Fox Fire Magic” you can guess the amount of symbolism and mysticism each work holds. The medium of bas-relief itself is ancient, going back 20,000 years. Starting with a slab of thick clay, Brad turns his sketch into a carved sculpture that ends with days of low temperature kiln firing followed by high temp firing. The final 19×14 inch piece ends up weighing about 35 lbs and shows a range of colors from the firing process.

“I have chosen to develop a style of artistic expression which has little precedent in the modern aesthetic vernacular. I have ignored the modern concept of the human being as divided into mind and body, and of the human as separate from nature.” – Brad Burkhart

Brad’s current exhibit at Big Basin Vineyards Wine Bar features select artwork from his new book, “Reflexions: Sculpture & Poetry” –  a 40 piece collection of art accompanied by 40 poems by Seattle poet, Cheryl Latif. Come by on First Friday to set your imagination free and experience Big Basin Vineyards wine – truly one of the hidden gems in Downtown Santa Cruz.

525 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz
Mon, Thurs, Fri – 3-8pm | Sat and Sun 12-8pm

Follow Big Basin Vineyards Wine Bar on IG: @bigbasinvineyards | On the web:

Follow Brad Burkhart @bradburkhart_sculptor | On the web:

Follow Randie Silverstein @randiesilversteinglass | On the web: