OAKHURST – It’s been said we eat with our eyes before our mouth, and now you can easily do both in a most imaginative way, for free, on three different occasions.
The public is cordially invited to a Celebration of Tasteful Art at local Timberline Gallery, which amounts to a splendid collaboration between 16 artists and 16 local restaurants, resulting in a feast for the sensibilities as well as the palate. The first of three receptions is on Saturday, July 18. Participating restaurants are providing the food; the gallery offers the ambiance and the art.
Jacqueline Kurtt and Vivian Helena are Timberline Gallery artists who took the restaurant idea to owners and managers of area food establishments. The food folks responded with great enthusiasm to the concept of local fine artists recreating their meals in a variety of media.
“The whole idea of the food show is great,” says Jacqueline. “We want to connect with the community, because sometimes we’ve felt kind of alone at Gallery Row. We get a lot of tourists, and every once in a while I talk local people who say, ‘I keep meaning to go to the gallery!’ We’d love to see more local people visit the galleries.”
That could happen soon, as the restaurants involved are passing out gallery reception invitations to their best customers. If you don’t have one yet, consider this your invite to attend.
Jacqueline’s restaurant is Jade Gazebo, where the rich, mouth-watering aromas coming from the kitchen were among her chief inspirations for the special weaving she’s created.
“The Chef doesn’t speak much English, but I could smell the spices and seasonings,” Jaqueline adds. “The Chinese letters on the weaving say seasonings, and I used the colors of seasonings, like mint and cinnamon.”
The size of the piece is approximately 14 x 30 inches, and the artist says it takes a concentrated effort, all things considered.
“This piece of fabric was woven on the loom in the other direction, not horizontally as you see it now. The loom does two layers at the same time: a layer under those ripples and a layer of the ripple. You have to figure in the time to dress the loom as well as the weaving so it takes about an hour each inch. It’s a whole lot more than people realize.”
Like Jaqueline, each artist learned about their partnered restaurant, from menu and food preparation to location and staff. After interviews and observations, and perhaps a meal or two, the artists returned to their respective studios to create an impression of the food, or restaurant’s ambiance, or whatever strikes them about the place, all using their specialty media. Fiber arts, weavings, watercolor, pastels, oils, jewelry, sculpture, photography and ceramics are all included.
David Caris is the local ceramic artist who’s teamed up with El Cid Mexican Restaurant, much to his dining pleasure.
“Visiting El Cid was very interesting,” says Dave. “The owner, Tony Olmeda, took me into the kitchen to view the various entrees that were in process. I always enjoy the challenge of figuring out, in advance, just how I am going to make a piece.”
Dave says recreating an El Cid meal was made a little bit easier due to his experience making Mexican food out of clay once before. This time around, the menu is a little more elaborate, but some of the basics are the same.
“I’d previously taken over two years to finalize a chips and salsa piece, and I used what I learned then for the glazing of the tortillas.”
Among the reasons Dave favors this flavorful project collaboration is because it’s not a project that could take two years – an end date was naturally built in. Being part of this Tasteful display, says Dave, “widens the decision making about what the artist will be doing and it also put a time frame on completing the art.”
We caught up with Dave in an early stage of production, when the work had been bisque-fired, and again at the end when the glaze firing had taken place and the pieces were complete.
“I used slab technique for the Mexican Platter and the Taco Salad. It was all hand built, including the olives, cherry tomatoes and lettuce shreds. The guacamole was a thick slip liberally applied. Seven different glazes were used and there were, as usual, two separate firings in the kiln.”
Celebration of Tasteful Art at Timberline Gallery launches on Saturday, July 18 from 2- 4 p.m., with a reception and appetizers offered by that night’s featured restaurants. The first reception includes restaurant Oka with artwork by Julie Mitchell, DiCicco’s with artist Wendy Denton, The Blue Heron with Anita Stoll, Iron Horse BBQ with Lola Nelson, Time for Tea with Janet Morita, and Pete’s with Dick Nelson.
Artist Janet Morita feels the restaurant she’s working with is a perfect fit, because she is pleasantly prone to paint florals.
“I am really fortunate to have been paired with Time for Tea,” Janet explains. “I took photos of the teapot in there, and changed the color of the tea cup a little bit so they would match. I have really enjoyed this process. The more we can do to connect local businesses and artists with the community, the better.”
Anita Stoll is paired with the YLP restaurant Blue Heron, having painted two pieces for the show, “Your Table is Waiting,” and “Centerpiece.”
“They were inspired by the elegant table settings at the Blue Heron restaurant,” Anita says. “I’m very excited about this show and I love that each restaurant featured will be providing food from their restaurant at the recption.”
That particular evening, July 18, will feature an additional treat: Patti “Kizan” Hummel will give a special demonstration of Japanese Floral Arranging. Patti has studied at The Tokyo Sogetsu School of Ikebana.
On Saturday, July 25 from 2- 4 p.m., the featured restaurants and artists are Taste of China with Francis Ades, Sweetwater with De Sheldon, Pops with Raymond McGee, Alice’s Cookhouse BBQ with Vivian Helena, and El Cid with David Caris. Appetizers offered by each restaurant will help celebrate the special exhibit.
Vivian Helena’s three-dimensional textile work depicting a classic meal from Alice’s Cookhouse BBQ is notable for many reasons, including its striking beauty and sheer authenticity.
“My piece is 3D fiber art, all fiber. I used real rib bones, boiled and sealed them, then wrapped them with batting and fabric that looks like meat. I made the basket with rope and fiber. The red checked fabric continues the theme from Alice’s interior.”
A quick call to Alice’s confirmed the restaurant is pleased with the partnership.
“We’ve seen pictures,” Sarah Jackson of Alice’s says. “We love it!”
The last reception in the delicious series is Saturday, Aug. 1 from 2- 4 p.m.. Celebration of Tasteful Art at Timberline Gallery will feature Supernaws BBQ with artist, Merylyn Whited, Cool Bean with Zyg Zee, South Gate Brewing with Karen Tillison, Jade Gazebo with Jacqueline Kurtt, and Crab Cakes with Sandy Kowallis.
Jacqueline Kurtt strongly encourages the community to visit the gallery and have fun with this exhibit, and others.
“Come in, see the art and talk to the artist that’s working the desk. We are a co-op, so each day a different artist is taking the desk, every month they will talk to an artist and will show them their work.”
Jacqueline says visitors to the gallery have a chance to make a people connection, an art connection, an enjoyment connection, and reminds people looking for the perfect token of esteem for a loved one could find it in the gift gallery.
The entire exhibition will hang from Saturday, July 18 through Sunday August 2 at Timberline Gallery located along Gallery Row at 40982 Hwy. 41, Oakhurst.
The public is welcome to come support the local artists and the participating restaurants and join in the fun. There is no charge for the exhibit or for the three receptions. Timberline Gallery is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. For additional information, call the Gallery at (559) 683-3345.