Tuesday, January 14, 2014

At The Table With...Seth Minkin

    A little while back we catered the This Old House Wrap Party in Arlington. As I walked through the newly finished renovation I came across these brilliant paintings of crabs and guitars. Later on as the event was winding down, an exuberant fellow poked his head in to the makeshift kitchen in the basement and asked to meet the chef. We chatted for a bit and as it turns out his name is Seth Minkin and he is the oil on canvas artist that drew all this amazing art work. We traded cards and a few weeks later I reached out to him to see if he would like to collaborate on an At The Table With...dinner. Emails were exchanged and a week later Seth and I met at his studio.
   Seth's studio is tucked in to the corner of a large office incubator for multiple tech start ups, located in a converted factory loft space in the South End. While it seemed like a peculiar space for an artist to set up shop, Seth had found a comfortable space among the whiteboards, office furniture and conference rooms to create and display his art. To be honest with you, I secretly wished that we had an artist in residence creating bad ass paintings in the corner of our office!
   We chatted for awhile to determine the best way to go about the dinner and naturally pairing his paintings with food (a painting for each course) made the most sense. So we walked around the office checking out his art and then selected the most striking selections..it was a good time.
      Pairing food with art is not necessarily a unique or new idea. However it does present a bit more of a challenge than your standard beer or wine dinner. Seth and I are are not too dissimilar in that we are both using our inner muse, funneled through years of practiced technique, to present on object (a plate of food or painting) to our respective audiences, with the hope of eliciting an emotional response. And at the end of the day hopefully to make living at the same time.
      While the nature of art and it's true purpose in our existence is a conversation for another time, the intersection of oil on canvas and plated food strikes an interesting balance. For Seth his creations are preserved for the foreseeable future, but my creations only live for 30 minutes at the most. The short life span of my art gives me as a chef great freedom to succeed or fail on a nightly basis. As the saying goes, you are only as good as your last plate. Culinary artistry is also not transferable or 100% reproducible either through digital means or reasonable physical transport (although we try to do this with the catering company!). Seth on the other hand can create a painting that is transferable, reproducible (either digital or analogue on film), durable, and on some level only gains value as it gets older. However, as Seth reproduces his art digitally (see painting above) does it lose value? Since the advent of digital reproduction, is Seth actually in the same boat as me in regards to preserving/copying his art to reach a greater audience?
Seth Minkin     The concept of the value Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction basically states that, as art is reproduced, it's inherent value is lost and that only the "aura of the authentic" of the original creation maintains it's true value. Since my art form can't be reproduced with the exactitude of a digital copy,  I put forth the proposition that a night At The Table With.. is very close to reaching the aura of the authentic. Especially with a great artist like Seth, who as part of the dinner will be hand drawing original art to be given out to the guests.
   The point of all this rambling is so that the guests attending the diner can understand one of the more lofty goals of the evening, which is to combine our disciplines in way that we can both eek the most positive aspects of our chosen art form. Hopefully, the guests, as well as Seth and I will gather the aura of the authentic from the dinner that extends beyond the reach of the image you see at the top of the page.  Even if we fail at this goal, all will be well fed, friendships will be formed, and art will be created for the viewing and gustatory pleasure of our guests!

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