December 10, 2007
Seconds on Second Saturday

Is it just me, or does anyone else sense that the Sacramento area has a disproportionate number of artists obsessed with food themes in their work? I've noticed it before, but paintings and sculptures involving food, restaurants and the like really jumped out at me during the Second Saturday art walk this weekend.

You really didn't have to visit any place other than 20th St. Art Gallery to get your fill. From Carol Marine's "Cabbage" and Kathleen Stock's "Artichoke" to Parker Carson's "Waitress" and Martha Stewart's "Pumpkins and Cranberries," many of the works celebrated food and dining in ways colorful, dynamic and refreshing. Martha Stewart? Well, she's not the media doyenne, but an actual Sacramento artist whose intense watercolors focus to a large extent on kitchen art, say the folks at 20th St. Art Gallery.

At any rate, is all this food art an offshoot of Wayne Thiebaud's impact on the area, or does it reflect either the diverse cornucopia that is the Sacrmamento farm scene or our current infatuation with culinary matters?

At least Jim Ferry and his 20th St. Art Gallery were ready for art patrons whose hunger was fueled by the exhibit. He had on hand Michael Sampino of Sampino's Towne Foods at 16th and F, overseeing a veritable buffet line of first-rate pasta and salad.

Galleries and boutiques, in fact, seem to be upgrading their food and wine offerings during Second Saturday. At his Hawaiian-apparel shop Swanberg's on J, owner Lauren Lundsten was passing around a tray of sushi from Tamaya down the street and pouring glasses of the splendid Gnarly Head zinfandel, while over at Solomon Dubnick Gallery platters of thick and nutty chocolate-chip cookies by Jules Westreich were being snatched up as quickly as they were spread out. She's baked them for Bette Midler, Bon Jovi and others as part of her day job in the entertainment business, but even without word of that background getting around they were immensely popular.

Which raises the question: With all this food and beverage in galleries and boutiques, does Second Saturday help or hinder midtown's restaurant scene? I'd say it helps, priming appetites for a more balanced and heftier meal afterwards, and exposing the restaurants that cater the foods to a wider audience. It's a win-win pairing. If January is as chilly as it usually is, that's what I'll be looking for, chili.

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