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Friday, February 10, 2012

Meet Our Masterminds: Eric Cohen and Eliane Lima

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 2:30 PM


The economy sucks, but we don't care -- the Bay Area is home to artists so talented they deserve to take over the world. That's why the Masterminds grants are given to three local and emerging artists who need that little push to become even more awesome.

SF Weekly has narrowed down the potential winners to 10 finalists, with the three winners being chosen Feb. 16. at Public Works during Artopia. Until then we're going to fall in love with their creative work all over again by featuring the profiles (written by our arts critic Jonathan Curiel) of two finalists each day right up until the event. Today, meet Eric Cohen and Eliane Lima.

Eric Cohen: The Wine Photographer

Making of Shoe Shine Wine - ERIC COHEN
  • Eric Cohen
  • Making of Shoe Shine Wine

At the dawn of the 20th century, black-and-white photographs of wine and winemaking tended to be predictable, often just images of happy people holding up wine glasses. Eric Cohen's work is a radical bookend to those early photos. Under his lens, the processes of harvesting, fermentation, and bottling are turned into cosmological panoramas. Wine gurgles to the surface like volcanic bubbles about to explode. Swirls of vino turn into clouds of pinks that resemble the aurora borealis. Even grape fields are blurred and re-imagined as dreamy landscapes.

Making of Shoe Shine Wine - ERIC COHEN
  • Eric Cohen
  • Making of Shoe Shine Wine

It's proximity that lets Cohen get so close to his subject: He's the owner and winemaker of the micro-winery called Shoe Shine Wine, based in the Mission District. Winemaking has been Cohen's occupation since 2003. Two decades earlier, at age 13, he started taking images with a camera that his uncle gave him. "Photography and winemaking share the same intersection of art and science, and I have been consumed by both for a long time," he says. "Both are expressions of ethereal moments that can never be repeated in the same way again."

Making of Shoe Shine Wine - ERIC COHEN
  • Eric Cohen
  • Making of Shoe Shine Wine

Cohen's artistry extends to his bottles, which were included in SFMOMA's recent "How Wine Became Modern" exhibit. Instead of the industry-standard bottle-tops, Cohen uses "fabric capsules" -- coverings that are distinct wraps of fabric. The timing seems right for Cohen, 43, to enter a new artistic phase in his life. Before submitting his portfolio to SF Weekly, Cohen -- a single father of a 5-year-old boy -- had never seriously shown his full body of work to anyone. "I was taking pictures of winemaking to document the process for people and allow people to get some sort of sense when I was making wine, and it largely grew into something just for me," he says. "I never even printed them. It's been 10 years in the making."

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