Direct Experience, the creative productions of Zalman Berkowitz

Narrative of Particulars the art and work of Zalman Berkowitz

About Zal and Mania


Growing up I  had the great good fortune of being raised by a dynamic, strong single mom in a loving household. Material resources were often a struggle and I was presented with this dynamic of an emotionally rich, ethically disciplined (even righteous) home life. Momma was a peacenik, bohemian, hippy, vegetarian and we went to many potlucks and drum circles. My kid life was filled with radical intellectuals, artists, poets, musicians and perhaps most importantly, adults that treated me like a person more than like a “kid”. Most often I filled my time with science fiction books and lots of legos.

All those hours of solitude, in retrospect, set me up nicely for studio practice. Funny how that goes (but I am getting ahead of the story a leetle).

So, all was well in the childhood land of Zal, then came School and exposure to other people living very different lifestyles. Media in those days was “News” and you got it on TV and Cable (if you could afford it) Audio was on Tapes (Dolby Hi-Speed Dubbing!) or Records (wax plates with grooves which you tried NOT  to scratch), movies were VHS (or Betamax… remember Beta? Probably should have called it Alpha… way to set the bar low guys. Who does Number 2 work for? Nobody now…).


Time passes and I translate my love of food, parties and people into becoming a fine-dining server, eventually move to New York City to study art from Myron Barnstone at his rigorous Atelier in Pennsylvania and fall nose first into the Wine Trade. New York City provided the opportunity to work with Michael Green and Gourmet Magazine, TVFN, Food and Wines From France, Fortune 100 companies, large and small scale food and wine events in multiple markets. All of this was heady and fantastic and I loved the environments I found myself in, and the respect I was treated with. Initially by accident I caught the ‘Wine Bug’ and deepened my appreciation for the mystery of wine through study and loads of field experience, achieving a few certifications and winning a competition along the way.

Cork Dork, a sommelier-for-hire service is my current incarnation of wine exploration. Find More about Cork Dork here.

That Artist tickle never quite left me, even when I was spending my energy 100% in the wine world. Loved what I was doing, but it left me unfulfilled creatively, and painters gotta paint, so to the chagrin of my Mentor, I moved back to the desert.

I have been combining my loves of wine and art in some fashion or another since then. Offered my first public gallery exhibition in 1996, and worked as a Sommelier in Grand Award Restaurants in Seattle and Arizona, leading more than a few wine classes, staff trainings, wine dinners and wine programs.

Back in Seattle, following the success of a co-operative artist-charity-partner venture, I opened and operated a contemporary art gallery at the Seattle Design Center and continued to show my work in alternative venues: artwalks, festivals, coffeeshops, clinics and wellness centers, even an organic soap shop (shout out to Ballard Organics!).

Continuing with art, I accept a few select commissions each year, sometimes corporate, sometimes private and continue to keep my brush moving with fascinating visual conundrums.




Throughout my life story the practice of making things, putting things together in new ways has always been a way to spend some time with myself and process the intensity of the world and it’s myriad relationships. I am fascinated by how things work (or don’t). I feel like a perpetual student. I have been painting and working with wine and food for more than 20 years professionally. I think of each discipline as the ‘never ending story’ and appreciate how further study deepens experience.

I do not know if ‘Artists’ are born or made, or if talent is innate or cultivated. Pretty sure it’s both. Eros inspires Logos. While we may not all choose to express ourselves in Art, surely each of us is Creative. Similarly, while we don’t all share the passion of discovery in Wine, no doubt there are subjects that capture our attention, and mysteries that we are drawn to.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear (uhm, eyeball?) and share some of that which I find beautiful. I hope that you will join me on one of my social media platforms (Facebook , Instagram , Twitter ) and share some of your world and the things you find beautiful in it.

Looking Forward!