August 1, 2012
Raising salad-making to the level of performance art, with wine

I just got off the phone with Karen Holmes of Karen's Bakery and Cafe in Folsom. I called her after reading about an upcoming food, wine and fine art event that sounds like a lot of fun. It will be held on the top floor of the parking garage in Historic Old Folsom on Sept. 15, with proceeds going to the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary. For more information and to buy tickets, go here.

Holmes sent me an earlier email in which she said, "I wanted to bring a Fine Art event to the Historic District of Folsom. Artists from outside our community who create fine art -- not arts and crafts. I love art, and the artists who can think that way, and wanted to support fine art in my community. My vision was an event that brought fine art, food, and wine together. I wanted the artists to be able to sell their work, and for people to be able to taste wine and food, similar to the events I've been to at Pebble Beach and Los Angeles."

I was especially intrigued by Holmes' role - she's going to be preparing a "public salad." What's a public salad, you ask? That's what I wanted to know.

Holmes said the salad idea is based on a YouTube video she saw of American artist Alison Knowles performing a piece called "Make a Salad" at the Tate Museum in London. Knowles first did the salad - a very large and public salad - in 1962. Is it conceptual art? Or simply something to enjoy while on a diet? Chew on that one for awhile.

In the video I watched, Knowles opines, "Whenever you eat a salad, you are performing a piece." By that standard, Jack's Urban Eats becomes absolutely Louvre-like when the lunch crowd hits its peak.

Says Holmes, "I just cracked up when I saw the video. I couldn't believe how wonderful, how funny it was."

So, Holmes is going to perform a salad, with the help of several culinary students from American River College who will be doing the prep work - washing, chopping, slicing, shredding. Hey, even Michelangelo had helpers. And I'm sure fans at her bakery hope she might someday do a "performance croissant."

While Holmes is still working out the details - a pitch fork may or may not be used for tossing the salad with the dressing - the performance is expected to be held atop the four-story parking garage, with folks dropping ingredients from the fourth level to folks holding a large tarp on the third level. Christo, eat your heart out. Tin Macuha of Channel 31 will host the salad making, which may or may not make art history. Sometimes you have to be dead for a hundred years before your salads can really be appreciated.

Once compiled and tossed, the salad will be doled out to those in attendance. And leftovers?

"Because we're doing this whole event for the Folsom Zoo, whatever isn't eaten can go to the animals so they can eat it," Holmes said.

Let's just hope the animals don't start getting an attitude - once they figure out that they, too, are performing a piece.

But the salad is just for starters when it comes to performance art. Jake and Joel Moss of DIY Network's "Yardcore" "will sculpt a large pile of urban debris into something that will eventually go on display at the Zoo."

In addition to all that, there will be plenty of wine, lots of good food and fine art for sale.

In her email, Holmes laid out details of the event. She says, "We have corporate sponsorship from Lexus, Toyota, AT+T, Silverado Landscaping, and Folsom Lake Bank so far, totaling over $12K. There is more coming in, but those are the confirmed so far. The response to our requests for participation are blowing us away. My hope was that this would be a regional event, reaching out to the greater area around us. I am pleased to say that the wineries have all responded well. Schaffer Cellars, Trefethan, Trattore, Rutherford, Pruett Vineyards, David Girard, Miraflores, Ciello, Boeger, Madrona, and Perry Creek are all in. We are working on the artists (a jury process) and restaurants now. So far I have confirmations from Spataro, Mulvaney's, Red Rabbit, Source, Bidwell St. Bistro, Hawks, Matteos Pizza and Bistro, and Sutter St. Steakhouse -- that's a strong group. I want to encourage all restaurant people to think of this as an opportunity to do something a little lively with their food."

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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