Mountain Wines was originally exhibited at the Highlands Inn, Carmel CA May 16- August 18, 1996


Mountain Wines is a series of photographic poems about a unique place and some very special people. It is about the relationship of the family of Jeffrey and Ellie Patterson and Mount Eden Vineyards, the mountain where they live and work each day, and, by implication, the spiritual forces underlying the creation of their wines.


The narrative of this exhibition is based on the Patterson’s daughter, Sophie, who grew up on the isolated mountain that breathes life into the people and the vines they call home. The story and poems themselves are not biographical; instead, they blend fact and fiction. To portray the Mountain Wines ‘girl’ at age seventeen, I selected Kelsey Gray, Ellie’s stepsister. Young Sophie, her mother, and her father Jeffrey, the winemaker, also appear in my photographs.


From a cross-cultural perspective, the aesthetic of this exhibition synthesizes basic principles of Japanese arts, such as the tea ceremony, with the modern lifestyle I refer to as Northern California country. In this work, and underlying social theme is wa, or harmony, and my central visual standard is derived from sabi and wabi, the subdued loneliness and beauty the results from integrating ancient and modern, urban and rural, hi-tech and lo-tech into one continuous form of life.


There is nothing overtly ‘Asian’ in Mountain Wines and this underscores my belief that the Pacific Rim art of the 21st century is basically a spiritual force that does not necessarily need to be semiotically represented by icons perceived as exclusively Eastern or Western. It is this power of synthesis of East and West that makes art so exciting and, at the same time, so necessary to human survival


— Ronald Phillip Tanaka