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Matters of the Art: Brew or Cuppa?

Matters of the Art: Brew or Cuppa?

Duke City fans of 'Downton Abbey' can demonstrate their upper-crust resilience and commiserate with other lovers of the show; Immastar Productions has proven they know how to put the “variety” back in 'variety show' with their I'LL Drink to That event series.


Tea and sympathy

ABQ Free Press

The Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) considers the end of “Downton Abbey.” (Photo: ITV)

Take pity on “Downton Abbey” fans. After five years of success on the public television airwaves and unanticipated cultural prestige, the big-hearted melodrama tracing the fortunes of an aristocratic English family and its household staff is slated to come to a close at the end of its sixth season.

As Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, would chastise anyone who might dare to respond callously to the news, “My dear, a lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears.”

Duke City fans of the show can demonstrate their upper-crust resilience and commiserate with other Downton lovers. At The St. James Tearoom (320 Osuna NE), Goodbye to Downton offers a full afternoon tea of dainty nibbles and demure sipping in the Downton library hosted by Lord and Lady Grantham.

Encouraged to dress in their most dignified Edwardian or Roaring Twenties getups, guests will be able to engage in some good old-fashioned conversation about their Downton knowledge and hopes for the final season.

As we go to press, all slots for the Wednesday, Jan. 20, event from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. have already filled. A second date, Tuesday, Jan. 26, was added to accommodate the overflow, but has also reached maximum capacity. At $48 per person, it’s a testament to Albuquerque’s love of finery, fancy houses and English accents.

To be placed on a waiting list (and perhaps politely beg for another date to be added), contact St. James’ Event Registrar, Laura, at 505-681-3265.

In the meantime, consider dropping by the tearoom for their regular service. January’s menu theme is Starry Night: Honoring Impressionist Painters. The three-course afternoon tea includes delights like “Van Gogh’s Traditional Tea Sandwich,” consisting of cucumber with grapefruit mint butter, and “Carot’s Grape Custard Tart.”

Make reservations by visiting stjamestearoom.com or calling 505-242-3752.

Mic check

ABQ Free Press

El Moises paints a canvas at Tractor Brewing – Wells Park. (Photo: Tractor Brewing)

After 45 iterations of their popular I’LL Drink to That event series, Immastar Productions has proven they know how to put the “variety” back in “variety show.”

On Sunday, Jan. 24, their first brouhaha of 2016 kicks off at 4 p.m. at Tractor Brewing – Wells Park (1800 Fourth Street NW) with a blistering assortment of artists, comics, musical acts, poets and vendors selling original art, prints, clothing, food and more.

Performers include Albuquerque favorites like Jessica Helen Lopez, whose two-year stint as Albuquerque’s Poet Laureate comes to a close in just a few short months; Ebony Isis Booth, wielding a velvet-titanium voice that has the power to arrest an entire room whether she’s speaking or singing; and The Riddims, New Mexico’s own purveyors of feel-good, desert-flecked reggae/ska.

I’LL Drink to That (IDTT) also offers a feast for the eyes, including a lineup of artists who’ll be painting live and auctioning off their canvases. Phoenix-based El Moises, making his IDTT debut, promises to wow audiences with the frenetic, hard-edged lines of his impossibly colorful, electrically charged painting that draws on traditions from Chicano murals to Mexican iconography to modern-day pop celebrities.

Painter Michael Fish melds abstract color geometries with lush figurative images whether he’s depicting cow skulls, coyotes or Eazy E.

Jessica Estevan drenches her wooden panel canvases in thick, organic swathes of oil, acrylic and resin to depict vibrant Southwestern landscapes and likenesses.

IDTT is completely free to attend, so all your funds can go to supporting the artists and beer-brewers of your local economy. Tons more recognizable names round out this exciting roster of creative minds, so see the event page at bit.ly/JanuaryIDTT for more details.

Lisa Barrow is a member of the Dirt City Writers collective. Visit her on the interwebs at facebook.com/LisaBarrowLikesWords. She most recently served as arts & lit and web editor at Weekly Alibi.


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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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