I could tell this morning by the way it smelled outside. The air is crisp, the fires are (almost) out, and summer is over. Which led me to reflect on one of my favorite activities of the past summer: Silverlake Wine‘s Friday night tastings at Barnsdall Art Park.
On a grassy plateau in East Hollywood named Olive Hill—a place that many people who lived a few blocks away did not know existed—there is a large park with beautiful, 360-degree views of the city. (And for the first few weeks, a bit of June Gloom.)
But there’s also this house! The ridiculously gorgeous Hollyhock House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for art patron Aline Barnsdall in 1921. And they had tours of this house (sorry, no wine inside). Here’s a shot from the first week (note how hardly anyone is there).
And if you’re looking for hollyhocks, by the way, this is the place to go.
Sipping a frosty Grüner Veltliner in the shadow of this temple-like structure was like being transported to a magical end-of-the-workweek world. Only 1.6 miles from my house.
After a few hours—aided by a few Spanish reds—the ridiculously gorgeous house would suddenly start to glow.
As the weeks went on, the word got out, and the crowds grew in accordance with the temperature. There was suddenly a DJ, and people brought picnics, and—to the chagrin of some people, according to this article by my friend Jess—their kids.
I held meetings, met neighbors, collected business cards. Each week, another random sampling of friends converged on my blanket.
My friend Parker was a regular. Obviously as you can see from her behavior here, she always had one too many.
Each sunset was spectacular. I remember this one, clouds feathered across the sky, which only got better as I walked home.
Or this day, after we’d gotten a freak June rainstorm, and the sun didn’t really set as much as the sky just got darker and darker blue.
By the end of the summer, it had become the place to kick off the weekend. And, since a portion of the tasting fees went towards the Hollyhock House renovation, I think the hundreds of people converging before this landmark did manage to do some significant preservation work. I think I might have funded an entire wing by myself.
As the sun set on the last night—much earlier than it had a few months ago, we lamented—I realized there was no reason this easily-transportable instant party (especially with the mobile eateries who tagged along every week) couldn’t set up on any public space in LA. In fact, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. To prove it, they’re trying out movie nights with beer tastings that will happen once a month.
Luckily, they plan to be back pouring rosés up on Olive Hill next year. It wouldn’t be summer without it.