BuffetThere’s nothing like food for thought. Eating food. Writing about food. Telling stories about food. Creating abstracted images of food. It’s all just so delicious!!! And nearly impossible to NOT think creatively outside the box when a collage art retreat is sandwiched between a watermelon gazpacho starter and an avocado pudding dessert. I mean I’m just sayin’ it’s a tough creative process, but someone has to do it.

This delightful weekend art retreat was hosted by Connie Rohde, owner of The C Gallery in Los Alamos. Besides being a former Disney Teacher of the Year in Visual Arts, Connie is also an extraordinary cook and local guide extraordinaire of all things tasty and tasteful in this tiny community among the burgeoning vineyards of California’s Central Coast. Karen Browdy, gifted collage artist and Sharron Luft, gifted writer and dear friend, were the artists-in-residence who led us through a weekend of sharing stories and images of family, friends and meals that have been memorable in our lives. Some wildly hilarious, others poignantly funny, others downright sad.

After Friday evening’s first write, we entered the art gallery’s cozy studio the next morning to begin the sorting, scissoring, tearing, auditioning, positioning, adhering, admiring process that is the heart of collage making. One of the reasons I enjoy making art under Karen’s influence is that she brings all the art supplies – support structures, collage papers sorted in Ziploc bags according to color families, glues, and bits of bric à brac. I am not inclined to over-think what I want to create before the retreat begins. I’m more open to possibilities that might present themselves as I sort through her stash. However, on the way out the door I grabbed a couple of plastic bags filled with random stuff left over from a conference art activity just for the sake of getting them out of my office. One of those would provide all the potential art elements of my somethin’ out of nothin’ food-themed collage.

The inside of a security envelop (with an address window) became the background because sharing a meal with others is a place of deep security for me. Leftover paper fragments were cut into varied sizes of circles and layered three circles to a cluster. There are seven clusters since we tend to eat three meals a day, seven days a week – seven being the number of wholeness and perfection. But not all meals are equal. There are those “always” meals that bring fond memories of well-done roast dinners at Grandma’s, or the Sunday steaks Dad masterfully barbequed, or the same menus I cooked week in and week out the first year of our marriage. The trio of objects, clustered over the remnant of a maroon heart, on the envelope’s plastic window include a calendar word fragment “tue,” a smashed beer bottle cap, and a button. A cold Corona is a sometimes choice if I don’t have a margarita, but the two of us have buttoned ourselves, face to face across from one another, in one of La Cabaña’s red Naugahyde booths every Tuesday evening, more or less, for the past twenty-five years. It’s “our place” – that place for both lighthearted and deep conversations, a detailing of the day’s events, the occasional ranting about daily frustrations, the shared information about friends and family, and the place where, more and more, everyone knows your name… and what you always order to drink.

Lace TableclothThis collage isn’t something I’d consider framing and hanging on a wall. But is has sparked a creative intent to use it as the cover for a handmade book about some of my favorite recipes plus fond memories associated with food. Another collage intended for the back cover is suggestive of the lace tablecloth that covered my family’s dinner table when I was growing up. That tablecloth covered over the work beneath which was my mother’s office during the day. These collages have given me lots of food for thought.

What stories are sparked for you about favorite foods, significant meals, or family occasions? What kind of a collage would you create to memorialize one of those stories? What story will you be willing to share with us?

Looking forward to your “food for thought.”

1 comment to Food

  • It was hard work to sort through my emotions spurred by the food story, but I did, indeed, and came out so much stronger, clarifying lines, obligations, tradition…
    putting things in their place, as my sister would say.

    Deeply moving and delicious weekend!

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