What a delight to be asked to participate as an artist in the SAM Party in the Park held annually in the Olympic Sculpture Park. Each year SAM invites 40+ local artists to create a unique culinary experience and are given a stipend to set up a table at the annual event. Was in great company this year, with many of my most favorite Seattle artists…Susan Robb, Liz Tran, Diem Chao, Paul Komada, Jeffrey Mitchell, Casey Curran and many others.
The inspiration for my table was the glass sea sponge, as I recently had seen the work of marine biologist Dr. Henry M. Reiswig at The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC and was struck by how beautiful, delicate..and at risk these marine organism are. It seemed the perfect muse convey the beauty, vitality and fragility of regional waterways. Vast reefs of rare, glass sponges, with skeletons made of silica glass, that span more that 1000 square kilometers where the intricate network of coastal waterways that includes the southwestern portion of the Canadian province of British Columbia and the Pacific northwestern portion of Washington. They are considered one of the ocean’s most unique living treasures. More than 16 have been document in the Salish Sea…the only place in the world where extensive reefs are formed. If damaged, they take 200 years to recover.
The DEEP SEE: Savoring the Salish was the title of our project. The timing of this creative opportunity could not have been more perfect, as it was happening just as I was preparing for my marine focused art residency at Friday Harbor Marine Labs at the Whiteley Center on San Juan Island. I rounded up an awesome creative team of like-minded creative collaborators who care deeply about our fragile marine environments. Our Deep See team, Alexa Williams (interior architect), Mariko Hirasawa (industrial designer/artist), and Julie Myers (interior architect/artist), put together an engaging table that celebrated these most special inhabitants of the Salish Sea.
Each of our guests got a laser cut scuba masks representing different species of sea sponges to wear throughout the dinner.
The platform for our centerpiece was a layered topographic map of the sea floor. We created 12 microscope ‘specimen’ slide artworks collected from the Salish Sea and pressed between glass, for each person at our table. The idea was that they magnify and celebrate the exquisite beauty that is in hidden in our coastal waters.
Thierry Rautureau, ‘the Chef In The Hat’, the talented force behind Lou- lay Kitchen & Bar and Luc restaurants, was our chef. We requested him specifically for our table because he has been instrumental in launching ‘Smart Catch’, a sustainable seafood program created with leading chefs that encourages restaurants to work toward ensuring an abundant supply of seafood by serving more sustainable seafood.
Special thanks to Ginny Ruffner for recommending me to SAM for this event! And to Andrea Burgess and her crackerjack team at SAM for making this such a special event.