The crème de le crème of creative efforts from local visual, video, theatrical and culinary arts are being mixed, cooked and served in a unique presentation for a worthy cause. “Palette to Plate” is the flagship offering from the “Artivores” and is a conceptual art-dining experience initially cooked up by local visual artist Steve Williams. “We started planning a dinner in the gallery,” Williams said. “It was simple and was supposed to give attendees some lean toward collecting art and just an evening experiencing some of Jacksonville’s art talent.”
The event at Williams’ Florida Mining Gallery features visual artists Jim Draper and Staci Bu Shea, video work by DVA, and a performance by The 5 & Dime, A Theatre Company, with innovative libations and gourmet fare by Dig Foods and bb’s. Adding to the ambience is a site-specific presentation and table display by Glenn Certain Studio Floral Design Artists and Mark Grandin Events.
The proceeds benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville’s education department, for programs such as the museum’s free weekly ArtFusion series, which allows children to make art with a parent or caregiver, as well as Rainbow Artists, an initiative created for children with autism spectrum disorders.
“We like kids’ art programs, so that’s what we requested,” Williams said. “But it’s going into an overall fund that is distributed in different directions. But our philanthropic mission is to primarily help kids through programs that teach or instill creativity.”
While the list of key players for “Palette to Plate” reads like a menu of local art and fine dining, the actual definition of what an “Artivores” event might be — and even what ticket-holding attendees are going to experience — is being kept somewhat under wraps. Social media addicts have surely noticed the appearance of DVA’s Facebook video teasers, which feature local artists like Mark George in their “native” environment, while a Jacques Cousteau-sounding narrator delivers a mock-serious description. In George’s case, he is seen painting while enjoying olives and primo tequila.
“The ‘Artivores’ concept is basically a ‘new breed’ of people,” Williams wrote in an email, “those who like eating amazing food and participating, collecting and experiencing art.” Williams and company hope that the hype they have cooked up will pay off.
“I can only tell you that they will experience an interactive art ‘experience/happening’ that will illustrate the span of man from past to the future,” Williams said. “So the concept has to remain a bit secret.”
Clandestine motivations aside, at $195 a ticket, some diners would certainly like to have something to whet their appetite prior to the Feb. 23 event. The “Artivores” did reveal to Folio Weekly that the event should play out something like this: During the cocktail hour, Draper and Bu Shea are collaborating with Dig Foods’ Chef Sean Sigmon.
“It’s a communal experience, where each guest will create their own individual experience,” Bu Shea said of the reception area, which will feature a selection of appetizers with ingredients and food to be displayed like the composition of an abstract work of art, along with a “real-time” video projection of the proceedings. “As the chef chooses particular wholesome food and ingredients, guests will be able to gather and pair foods together and to discover, like a child, which combinations suit their taste buds individually.”
Draper sees their contribution as a kind of gastronomic tribute in the way that modern art originally collected, gathered, adapted and reassigned different materials or, in this case, ingredients, to make new forms. “I think that in this exercise, the viewer [or participant] takes an active role toward creation while the artist [chef] in essence is more of a procurer or facilitator,” Draper wrote in an email.
Draper and Bu Shea said they hope their hybrid art/food presentation with Sigmon will help kick off the vibe that “Artivores” hopes to achieve.
“The meal becomes a metaphor for art, contemporary art in particular,” Draper said.
After this introduction, guests will be led to another area to experience a dinner prepared by bb’s Chef Joshua Agan and watch a performance by The 5 & Dime, featuring members Ron Shreve, Brandon Mayes and Jill Poland.
“The inspiration for the event is the evolution of man,” said the group’s co-director Lee Hamby. Though he doesn’t want to spoil any surprises for the guests, he indicated in an email that “The 5 & Dime is ‘in the clouds’ over this event (literally — wink!).”
Williams said he intends to make this event the first of many similar happenings that honor the “Artivores” basic mission: to provide much-needed support and nourishment to local art education, specifically with programs geared toward those future artists and foodies of tomorrow — today's children.
While MOCA will reap the first rewards of this inventive blend of culinary and fine arts, Williams said that the “Artivores” are openly encouraging local organizations to contact him about being the beneficiaries of future happenings.
“The purpose for the organization is twofold: bringing interesting food and art events to Jacksonville in order to raise money for organizations that need it.”