"Potluck" Inspires Communal Connections @ Hashimoto Contemporary, SF
Hashimoto Contemporary SF will host a group show curated by their very own, Dasha Matsuura. Inspired by communal connections surrounding food, Potluck brings together artists working in ceramics, drawing, and painting for a delicious exploration of our relationship with food.
Featuring 28 international artists from the San Francisco Bay Area, Potluck stirs up a rich melange of cultural and emotional experiences. Drawing inspiration from the joy of preparing food and gathering for a meal, each artist mixes in the unique memories and histories ingrained in what we eat. Each piece offers the viewer a personal perspective of food, ranging from favorite dishes and places, intimate domestic scenes, celebratory occasions, and nostalgic recollections.
Contributions to the eclectic Potluck exhibition include Katie Kimmel's playful ceramic seafood platter appetizers, a variety of bejeweled beverages by Sam Keller, traditional dishware painted with clay on canvas by Liz Hernandez, Anna Valdez's summer beer series painted on ceramic slabs, a charcuterie board rendered in detailed spray paint stencils by Casey Gray, a corn offering by Hilda Palafox, and a sweet and saucy milkshake by Petites Luxures.
Let's whet our appetites with this interview from gallery director and show curator Dasha Matsuura and Lyndsie Fox.
Six Pack, Anna Valdez.
Lyndsie Fox: Where did the Potluck theme originate? And how has your own relationship with food culture inspired curation of this show?
Dasha Matsuura: The show was inspired by Casey Gray's piece Roasted Salmon with Lemons & Carrots. I love Casey's work. And food plays a part in different places in his work, but his floral corkboard and cabinet works tend to be what we typically show. He is a phenomenal cook in his personal life and there's something really honest about his food-related work. You can feel his connection, passion, and interest in food and cooking that I love.
From there I began to think about treating the show like organizing a dinner party. The dishes people cook and their artistic practice relate to each artists' personality, interests, and backgrounds. So much of what people cook and what their artistic practice relates to each personality and their interests and background, so I wanted to bring together a wide range of folks who I thought would have interesting conversations with one another.
Food and cooking are also really central to my life. If I've had a particularly crazy week, cooking a big dinner with friends is one of my favorite things to do. There is something really comforting about feeding and gathering folks, and I think I get a similar feeling from curating shows, gathering people's work and voices to make a cohesive but varied experience.
Roasted Salmon with Lemons & Carrots, Casey Gray.
Did you choose artists who specifically make food-related art, or did you invite artists with other focuses to explore this subject?
It's definitely a mixture. There are some folks making work with food as a recurring theme in their work but, for the most part, it's artists I find compelling who were game to participate.
How have these other artists who focus largely on, say, portraiture or landscape, translated this theme into their Potluck works?
It's been super interesting to see how artists incorporate food or their experiences and interests on the subject into their work. Food is so central to memory that it isn't hard to find compelling personal subjects and ideas to tackle, even if work related to food isn't something you typically do.
I have the pleasure to know Casey Gray and other artists personally who are also amazing cooks or have a really deep appreciation for great food. Anna Valdez is an incredible cook, and there are a lot of parallels with her art practice and how she cooks. She makes everything from scratch, whether it's paint made with ground mead from the honey from the hives in her backyard. Every step is an intimately involved process, and I think it shows in both her work and her food.
Food itself can be experienced in so many ways - through taste, smell, touch - every sense employed in the experience. Do you think there are limits when trying to capture such an involved, tactile, sensational experience in creating an inanimate piece of art?
Being constrained to just visual is definitely a limitation to conveying the experience of food, but I think everyone has been really successful in expressing emotional sensations and associations around food, be it fun and joyful, more quiet and intimate, to the more jarring.
Dumplings and Golden Dumpling III, Stephanie Shih
Obviously, Potluck showcases a dynamic group of artists for a comprehensive exploration food. How do you think the materials used and the dimensionality of each work affects the viewing experience?
We received some really great sculptural work that I'm really excited about. Inherently there's something sculptural and textural about food, so the viewer will notice these influences, from really deep impasto, three-dimensional recreations of food to texturally evocative mark-making.
How have these artists drawn on the emotion and psychology of food culture to create evocative works?
There are so many emotions associated with food and there's something intimate about eating and gathering with people to prepare food or share a meal. It can be celebratory, somber, fraught, mundane, memorable, indulgent, simple - all of that is reflected in the show.
I really love Joey Yu's intimate painting of a shared experience that feels like one of those small but really memorable moments of making something together with a friend or a partner. Countering that is Joel Daniel Phillips' piece depicting a very public 1946 photo-op centered on a mushroom cloud-shaped cake, commemorating the test of nuclear weapons. Both pieces are charged with very different head-spaces, but each is as compelling and engaging as the other.
Instructions for Pleasure, Joey Yu.
Food is such an intrinsic part of cultural, social, political, and economic systems throughout the world. You often can't talk about one without the other. Have you seen any specific cultural commentary within these food-based works?
￼Inherently, there are notes of that for each work, because, like you said, food is so intrinsically tied to all of these elements. There are such deep historical, cultural, and personal ties to food, so it's exciting to see a few perspectives reflected in the group's work. Stephanie Shih's ongoing Stone Dumpling House series, where she recreates dumplings and common Asian kitchen items in stoneware, is particularly relatable for me, personally, growing up in a Japanese-American household. Chelsea Wong's work has a distinctive relationship with San Francisco with references to local institutions, some no longer around, that, I think, people are particularly drawn to. Hilda Palafox, Liz Hernandez, and Jessica So Ren Tang's work are also great examples of taking various inspiration points and incorporating experience into their practice.
Because food is such a sensational experience - the way a certain taste makes you feel, the memories you have about a certain food smell, the muscle memory of cooking a certain dish, the people you ate these foods with - it amkes food-related art extremely personal. Are there any pieces that felt particularly emotional for you as a viewer?
I think that's reflected through each work in the show, but Celia Jacobs' piece Portrait on a Blanket had a particularly personal connection to me. It captures this really lovely feeling of leisurely summer picnics, getting a moment of quiet to yourself to relax and think while getting a little sunburned. Anna Valdez's have a similar nostalgic, diary of summer experiences told through empty beer cans. Ness Lee's, characteristically, constructs an overt diary element that I really love too. There are little text entries on the backs of each piece that are also incorporated into the titles and serve as personal diary entries.
Portrait on Blanket II, Celia Jacobs.
You've talked specifically about the sense of community inspired by food. As an active participant in both the food and art world, do you notice any parallels?
The community aspect of food was the most compelling idea driving the show for me. I've been directly involved in the restaurant/bar industry for most of my adult life, from working in restaurants or just being lucky enough to have a lot of talented friends who are chefs and bartenders who make really creative menus and food.
There is a lot of commonality in the creativity within each community, for sure, just through different mediums. Conceptualizing a full menu is similar to the process of preparing an exhibition, harmonizing a cohesive concept with different notes and ideas, all rendered in different pieces, dishes, and elements.
I'm also really excited to bring both worlds together in a special event with Studio Table! They'll be bringing in their very talented Chef Kristen Berlangero to create a canapé and cocktail menu inspired by works in the show.
I love bringing together different groups of people. Whenever I host dinner parties, one of my favorite things is to invite people from different facets of life, throw them all together with good food and drinks, then let the rest happen. Come help us bring folks together!
Potluck opens Saturday, June 29th with an opening reception from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. The exhibition is on view at Hashimoto Contemporary through July 20th.