James Conaway

High on Wine in New Zealand

If Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy were real it would still take place in New Zealand because no other place has so much natural enchantment. But the ring wraiths would be searching for grape clones instead of the gold ring, and Frodo would be uncorking a 2010 vintage Pinot Noir and not sweating the small stuff.

Iconic Greece: Thessaloniki

Icons are, for the uninitiated (that means most of us), an encounter with the unknown: religious paintings on wooden panels of great antiquity. For others, they take on great spiritual significance. And there’s no better place to see them than Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

James Conaway’s long love affair with wine began with a column at the Washington Post and inspired him to pen two non-fiction books on the subject — but he eventually came to realize that fiction has advantages over journalism when dealing with “a subculture as broad as the Earth and as deep as history itself.”

Great Scotch!

The whiskey industry is no longer in precipitous decline and sales of single-malt scotch have romped for a couple of decades now. Its popularity reflects the heightened awareness of quality among drinkers of everything from tequila to cognac — and a willingness to pay for it.

Bellows Unmasked

One of the most vivid, spontaneous American painters of the early 20th century, George Bellows, chronicled in bold strokes both the interior and exterior life of New York City. His best known oils are probably his boxing scenes – “Club Night,” “Stag at Sharkey’s,” and “Both Members of the Club” – all part of a literal treasure trove of Bellows’s work that just opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Food Fridays: America Eats

Spanish chef José Andrés, a force of nature in the culinary world (Time just named him among its annual 100 most influential people in the world) and an enduring presence in this nation’s capital, founded America Eats Tavern less than a year ago in the space formerly occupied by his popular Café Atlantico (405 8th Street,…

The most famous depiction today of a wave may be Hokusai’s block print, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” Not only is it a beautiful, stylized evocation of the sea’s power but also a layered testament to the illusion of solidity (Mount Fuji poking up in the background) and human frailty (those poor fishermen cowering in their…

The 20th anniversary of D.C.’s Environmental Film Festival is underway (March 13-25) and shouldn’t be missed, in part because there’s nothing quite like it. This assemblage of films from around the world makes the urgency of climate change both real and provocative, and provides a running history of the environmental movement itself. Symbolically, Washington’s cherry…

The sheep on that hillside off Highway 28, just north of San Francisco Bay, remind me that this place, called Carneros, is named for rams. It was once considered useless for anything but pasture, but today extensive vineyards indicate a different reality — primo chardonnay and pinot noir and, indirectly, art. Those sheep aren’t moving…

You’ve heard of the Napa Valley wine auction, that stellar, expensive summer dueling among high-end wines for celebrity. But have you heard of Premiere Napa Valley, a similar vinous stand-off held every winter? Probably not, unless you trade in wine and have clients willing to put down as much as, say, $1,000 for a bottle…

Homage to Catalonia — and Miró

It’s spitting snow in Mont-roig del Camp the day I arrive, the coldest day in living memory in Catalonia. An hour and a half south of Barcelona, this one-time home of the famous painter Joan Miró is worth a day-long distraction from the sensual intensity up the coast. Joan – pronounced sho-ahn, a Catalan variation…

Altitude: Art from Above

If you’ve read contributing writer Jim Conaway’s feature stories in Traveler (like the Walk into America series, or his latest, Portland Reigns), you know that his evocative prose brings landscapes to life. But Conaway’s artistry isn’t limited to words. He’s a painter as well, and has done a series based on the Earth as seen…

Tibet Comes to Washington

Contributing editor Jim Conaway has always wanted to visit Tibet. Fortunately, he says, it’s come to him via two exhibits now on display in Washington, D.C. I once met the Dalai Lama, in the mid-Eighties. I was a reporter for the Washington Post’s Style section and the Dalai Lama was in town drumming up support…

Traveler contributing editor Jim Conaway reviews two new exhibits that just recently opened in Washington, D.C. Thank God for the women, I’m thinking, standing in the bright, airy space of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. I don’t necessarily mean the model for Modigliani’s Nude on a Blue Cushion, with her gorgeous, rosy…

Art in Amsterdam

Jim Conaway is just back from a visit to Amsterdam, where he checked out two current exhibits at the city’s celebrated museums. In Amsterdam, two unique artists beckon this winter from distinctly different worlds. Anyone passing through Holland, even with just a few hours between connecting flights, should make tracks for both the national Rijksmuseum,…

Adventures in Scottsdale Arizona

Contributing writer Jim Conaway sends a dispatch from Scottsdale, Arizona where he spent this past weekend at the Travels Classics writers’ conference. Okay, so you don’t do spiked saddle oxfords and are dismayed at the sight of kelly-green links spouting water in the Sonoran desert. I won’t say get over it but I will urge…

Oil and Water at the Corcoran

Contributing editor James Conaway is also our resident art buff, so we’ve asked him to review some of the best exhibits he visits in his travels. Today he contrasts two exhibits currently on display at the Corcoran Gallery in D.C. Washington, D.C.’s prestigious Corcoran Gallery of Art currently has two oddly complementary exhibits of special…

Selected Works at the National Gallery

Contributing editor James Conaway is also our resident art buff, so and we always appreciate his willingness to offer us a tour of some of the new exhibits he finds during his travels. National Gallery of Art in Washington: so-called “modern” art has ingeniously been made not just accessible, but practically participatory. We’re not talking…

Fall into Art in Massachusetts

Traveler Contributing Editor James Conaway is inspired by the New England’s fall foliage, and goes looking for other inspirational art at two local museums. The foliage factor’s just beginning to radically alter the New England landscape. I wanted something thoughtful to add to the palette of fiery reds and yellows of just-turning maples as I…

Preserving Baja’s Coastal Treasures

Jim Conaway’s feature in this month’s issue, “Is Baja on the Block?” looks at how the spread of tourism and development is threatening the integrity of Baja California in Mexico. Here, he introduces some of the people trying to help sustain the marine heritage of the region. Peter Patterson looks more like an American teenager…

What’s New at the National Gallery

Contributing editor Jim Conaway is an admitted art buff, so he’s offered to begin reviewing the many exhibits in D.C.’s galleries. Today he discusses two new shows at the National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery of Art is possibly the best deal for travelers in Washington, D.C.  It has one of the world’s great,…

Contributing Writer Jim Conaway gets the dirt, literally, on Napa Valley’s organic wine business. The barn is old, red, and lovely, topped by a droll weathervane – an elongated frog in mid-jump – and surrounded by a riot of blooming mustard and other chest-high nitrogen-fixers. This dense, nutritious jungle overruns the nearby vineyard and nearly…