At the end of the summer I spent a couple of weeks working on a project that was definitely one of the most exciting ones I’ve participated in for some time. I had the pleasure of assisting my dear friend Amanda Berg Wilson on the design and decor for one of the FEED dinners she produces with her Boulder-based theater company, The Catamounts. FEED is a four-course seated dinner that combines food and performance around a theme. I knew I wanted to be a part of this series in some way after attending the previous FEED dinner, “Smoke,” as a guest. Held in the fields of a local farm, Smoke was a gastronomic feast of smoked foods (and drinks!) presented alongside short performance pieces by notable playwrights, humorist David Sedaris, and even a writer from The Onion. It was truly a magical night and set in motion a series of conversations between Amanda and I that will hopefully lead to many years of collaboration (or at the very least many long conversations and artsy musings over glasses of wine).
Held on September 9, the most recent dinner, Feed: Corn, was set at the Altona Grange meeting house situated about 15 minutes north of Boulder. To quote the Altona Grange website, “Granges were started after the civil war as an attempt to educate and organize farmers in new and more efficient farming techniques, organize farmers against price fixing by the railroads, and fight high interest rates on bank loans.” The Altona Grange is one of 492 existing granges in Colorado and stepping into the building felt like stepping back 100 years in time. The theme of this dinner was Corn, which felt rather poignant given the devastating drought our country and its farmers endured this past summer.
For the Corn event I dusted off my old ink brayers (I had not block-printed in years) and printed 60+ tea towels with a vintagey trio of corn cobs. These served as the dinner napkins which guests could take home at the end of the night. Surprisingly the project went off without a hitch though I do have a nice new rag pile full of “mistakes”. After that I created two 30 foot table runners made out of dried corn husks which I had to to be sprayed with water, ironed flat, and glued together in 5 ft segments, then assembled in their entirety on site. The effect was both rustic and lace-like and brought the tables together in a graceful way I had not expected. Lastly, I finished off the table design with rows of jam jars featuring single stem sunflowers. I was lucky to attend the dinner that night as not only a collaborator but also a guest, and it was truly an honor to watch peoples faces as they entered the grange and sat down to the feast and performances that awaited them.
I wish I had images to share of the evening once it was fully underway but by that time I had put down my camera to full enjoy myself. As for the food (courtesy of chef Zachary Wilkinson)? Well I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was starting with the rabbit tamales and ending with the bacon/chocolate drizzled caramel corn. And as is consistent with all Catamounts events, the performances were top notch. I don’t really have the language to describe excellent theater so I only encourage all who are able to to attend a future FEED event and see for yourself. It was truly and honor to be a part of and if all goes well I’ll be back to assist on more FEED events in an even larger creative capacity.
Next up: FEED: Short & Sweet at the Avery Brewing Company on December 16, 2012.