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Experience the Art of Gastronomy in Healdsburg

Celebrate food, glorious food with all of your senses at the Art of Gastronomy, a unique, month-long presentation by the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, March 18 to April 19, 2015. 

Diving headlong into the passion, mystique, culture, and beauty of food and drink, this special exhibition combines a national juried art competition,  a curated presentation (both visual and oral) of gastronomic poetry and literature, a hands-on culinary event, a cookbook pre-release party, and an afternoon tea.

"I wanted to create something new and exciting," says Cheryl Itamura, exhibition chairperson for the HCA and a member of its board of directors. "It's not just an exhibition of the art of gastronomy, it's a month-long celebration."

More than 200 works of arts were submitted in the visual arts competition. Jurors Spring Maxfield, Charlie Pendergast, Vicky Kumpfer, and Itamura whittled that down to the show's 111 pieces by 77 artists.  Through mixed media, assemblage, fiber arts, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, painting, drawing, glass, and metal work, these original artworks explore food and drink, its preparation, its presentation, the gusto with which we consume it, and the power of the memories it creates and evokes.

A call for written entries brought in more than 60 submissions of poetry, flash fiction, and song lyrics. Curator Cynthia Helen Beecher culled that down to 12 pieces that will be displayed on the center's walls, next to the artwork.

"It's a chance to see the written word celebrating the art of gastronomy alongside the art, without illustrating the words but merging the two together, creating something that is more than either one," Beecher says.

Eleven of those 12 writers will read their work during the exhibition's "Poetry of Gastronomy Evening," along with other authors whose submissions were selected by Beecher. In all, the evening will feature 23 readings, including a performance of song lyrics.

But art and literature are just the beginning of this exhibition, which includes an ongoing series of events. All events will be free and held at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, except where noted. The exhibition's calendar includes:

  • Opening Reception, 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday, March 21 (wine sponsor Simi Winery).
  • The Poetry of Gastronomy, 7 to 9 pm, Saturday, March 28. Selected Sonoma County authors will read their gastronomical explorations.
  • Art of Gastronomy: Beautiful & Delicious Hors d'Oeuvres with Chef Anne Cornell, 6 to 9 pm, Saturday, April 4, at Relish Culinary Adventures (14 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707-431-9999). Limited to 20 participants, this class explores the artfulness of the plate and how it can influence our perception of flavor. Participants will work in small groups to create a wide variety of hors d'oeuvres that concentrate big flavors in small bites. ($120; proceeds benefit the Healdsburg Center for the Arts and the Art of Gastronomy exhibition.)
  • The Once & Future Pantry: A Delicious Evening with Michele Anna Jordan and her Magic Pantry Apron, 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, April 11. Author, radio host, and columnist Jordan celebrates the pre-release of her fully revised Good Cook's Books – "Tomatoes," "Mustard," "Salt & Peper" "Oil & Vinegar," and "The Good Cook's Journal."
  • Afternoon Tea, 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 19. The exhibition closes with an opportunity to meet some of the artists and writers, and to enjoy a casual cup of tea and delicious treats.

"It's exciting," says exhibition chairperson Itamura. "I hope this will set a precedent for exhibitions to come, so there are all sorts of activities tied together with each exhibit."

The Art of Gastronomy is sponsored by Relish Culinary Adventures and Re.tro.fit HOME. Healdsburg Center for the Arts, 130 Plaza St., Healdsburg, 707-431-1970.

Photo on the right: Kathleen Youngquist

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