Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reflections on Second Seating, The Blog

What was I thinking as I wrote yesterday’s post? The words seem formal, giving information, yet holding back the names of the artists that I’ll be working with as well as the East End companies that will, with luck, support the making of fantasy table dinner tables that incorporate their brand, be it coffee, milk or cake. As I said, in time all will unfold. The first post was an attempt to give a ‘word picture’ of what is essentially, at this moment, a concept. There is so much more inside my head - images and bits of text, potential donors, promotional ideas, contact lists.

There is a whole lot outside of my head too that includes a growing cache of random dinner plates from garage sales, tables and funky chairs from resale shops, blue wine bottles, coffee mugs, a stack of twenty white tablecloths from a friend in Minnesota, candelabra, varied vases and bowls and an expanding trove of photographs that hint of things to come. I am seeing great swaths of tablecloths hung across the ceiling, reflecting projected images of dinner past. I see enormous chandeliers made from dozens of tin and aluminum cans, shells and broken pottery.

I’ve been mulling ideas for this installation for almost a year now. I am no longer sure of just how or when the original spark of an idea occurred, though my original word document on the subject is dated November 30, 2007 and is overrun with stream of consciousness verbiage that, upon rereading, now simply adds more ideas to my mental file cabinet.

Suffice it to say that on this bright morning that calls to me, “Go walk before it is too muggy and ozone-y,” that my autumn days will be well filled with preparations for ‘Second Seating.’ I consider the process to be similar to preparations for a great feast, a visual feast and with any luck, a thought provoking feast. For the last week or so I’ve focused on oyster shells and for good reason.

The McGrady’s and I gathered fresh oysters in Lilliwaup little over then days ago. And a big box of oyster shells and styrofoam popcorn is somewhere in the mail between Seattle and Houston. I couldn’t leave the shells behind. No, I see those oyster shells piled high on a heavy laden dinner table. The oysters themselves have been consumed. They are gone.

The table is beautiful, overrun with silver scallop shells, empty too and resting among the spent oyster shells. Silver candelabra no longer cast light on iced and quivering oysters or on the diners who enjoyed them. The dinner is over, for real and metaphorically. The message of the empty oyster shells? Well, the fate of our oceans. Tuna is tainted, species near lost and seas are rotting with poison run off. The table is beautiful, but at what cost?

The message of this dinner table is a long way from Lilliwaup, WA, where we shared a warm family time and the oysters were gathered by three generations. That pleasant afternoon encourages a call to action for our oceans. I’ll be visiting with the Galveston Bay Foundation and other groups so that this ‘Second Seating’ dining table will be not only beautiful, but will offer us responsible and perhaps uncomfortable answers to our dilemma with the oceans.

This is the table I am thinking about today.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What Is It All About?

‘Second Seating’ is an art installation scheduled to open in spring 2009 in a metal shop/ warehouse on the eastern edge of downtown Houston. ‘Second Seating, Houston’, the blog, will document the making of this installation. Designed as a series of elaborate fantasy dinner tables, ‘Second Seating’ will be created with cast off furniture, found and recycled objects, vintage table linens and silver flatware, assorted china, crockery, Coke bottles and oyster shells, paint and paper, all mixed with text and photo imagery.

‘Second Seating’ refers to the practice of turning tables at restaurants in order to serve more diners and thus, the title becomes a metaphor for second chances, the passage of time, fulfillment and memory. ‘Second Seating’ also references the revitalization of Houston’s East End with it ’second time around’ possibility.

With an installation, an artist often uses a particular space as an integral part of the work. Setting fantasy dinner tables in an unused warehouse and using raw and recycled materials from East End businesses and industry suggests that both the space and the resultant art work will purposely reflect its origins and indirectly deliver information about a specific community as manifested through a collaboration among several artists.

‘Second Seating’ will both celebrate the vibrancy of the East End community and highlight the vision of a group of artists who, using common materials, create uncommon beauty and a dreamlike environment that is poignant, whimsical and wise.

This blog will chart the making of ‘Second Seating.’ Please join us as we begin to gather the materials that, when assembled together, will make magic of whatever you thought about dining.

More details about individual tables and specific artist’s work will unfold - just like grandmother’s old fashioned, hard to iron linen table cloths.