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.