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Slow Art Day 2024, reflection & a good bowl of soup

I first learned about Slow Art Day a decade ago when I had The Clock Tower Studio Gallery in Oakland, CA's Jingletown neighborhood. Before I formally opened The Clock Tower Studio Gallery, Jan Watten of Grey Loft Gallery had exhibited some of my work. After Jan had included my work in three exhibitions I asked her if she would formally represent me, but she declined. This is what prompted me to open my own exhibition space at that time. Once I did, Jan shared with me the concept of Slow Art Day. She and a couple other Jigletown Galleries were participating and she was right in thinking I'd be open to do the same. For my first event I had 4 participating guests and sold 1 piece of photography Art by a fellow artist. At The Clock Tower Studio Gallery I exhibited not only my work, but the work of other artists as well. The experience was enjoyable and positive for all involved. So when I opened 1UV Gallery Studio in Saratoga I was eager to participate in the global event once again and introduce the concept tot he greater Saratoga Community.


In April 2023 1UV had 2 visitors for Slow Art Day. We shared a positive and enjoyable experience together and they were eager to seek out future Slow Art Day events in their native country, as they were in town visiting family at the time of the event. I looked forward to planning my 2024 event and wasted little time beginning my plans. I thought the event would be better received by Saratoga, as so many of the people i meet present themselves as being intellectual, cultured, and community oriented. I was wrong for many reasons.


I began by reaching out to the many eateries, wine bars, and breweries, as well as to the local Museum and co-op gallery. My grand scheme being that local artists could partner with local food and libation businesses for a positive community-wide event. In general I was met with apathy, disdain, indifference and outright ignored. Two businesses signed on to participate with me: ManyFriends Brewing Company and Hong's Gourmet. At first I felt frustration at what I saw as missed opportunity on the part of my artist and business neighbors. But, after some reflection I decided that it wasn't worth the energy of being frustrated and instead focused on positive relationship building with the businesses that were supportive of my efforts and endeavors. In June 2023 I began marketing my 2024 events partnered with ManyFriends Brewery and Hong's Gourmet. I felt good about our events and they did too. My respect and deepest gratitude to both ManyFriends and Hong's Gourmet.


As the months wore on Saratogans were disinterested and some were outright critical and rude about any time I brought up the events. Some locals even took to bullying my business during the time between then and now, though I don't think that was directly because of Slow Art. What the problem seemed to be was long-time residents who are accustomed to being the "party planners" in town had their ego's bruised by the idea that someone new to town would have the nerve to offer something new and perhaps more interesting that what they had always done. I had approached the local Museum before any of the other businesses asking them to participate with me and was repeatedly ignored. Then, just a month before Slow Art Day they began to advertise a different event on the same day at the exact same time as the events I had been planning and promoting for a year. I suppose it is just an example of how ego and attachment influence human nature in the worst of ways. And, Saratoga has proven to me to be not much more than an insular town that bullies newcomers and views Art as a hobby to keep children and bored housewives busy, as opposed to valid intellectual enrichment of society and community.


So, when tickets did not sell for my events I decided to honor myself and celebrate Slow Art Day on my own terms. It is a holiday for me, and I will continue to treat it as such whether tickets sell for my events or not. Perhaps in the future my business will be located in a community that respects Art and the work I do and will celebrate with me instead of being petty and backhanded.


So, how did I celebrate Slow Art Day 2024? Omar and I visited Carmel by the Sea and visited a number of Art venues. We slowly observed Art in an intentional way and I shared with as many people as I could what we were doing and how we were celebrating. I had wonderful conversations about a wide variety of Art and Art object with a variety of people from all over the globe. Then Omar and I had a meal at a restaurant I love, Enzos, and shared with each other our favorites of the Art we viewed. Then we came home.


Now, I love Enzos, and normally when I am there I enjoy an excellent meal. But everyone has an off day now and then. It was a rainy day and when I heard the soup of the day was minestrone I was looking forward to a bowl. I had decided I was going to have soup and salad for lunch to save room for dessert...something I rarely indulge in. When my soup came, it lacked salt. There were no noodles of any kind, and the vegetables were nearly mush. My husband had a lovely house made pasta that looked wonderful and he raved about. I didn't try it thought because it was a meat dish. We shared dessert and I decided to not complain about the soup. Why let an off bowl of soup tarnish an otherwise perfect day of Art and conversation? No reason to do so.


When we got home I changed clothes into something more snuggly for the cold damp weather and went to the grocery store. I got what I needed and came home to make the bowl of soup I wanted for lunch for us to have for dinner. The results were spot on and we finished our Slow Art Day with joy.


Minestrone is traditionally a meat-based soup. The stock is made with a soup bone or ox tail. But I have come to make a vegetarian version that is as delicious as the traditional recipe. And when you pair it with a fresh baked loaf of focaccia and a beverage I call a Golden Goose...you can't go wrong. Sometimes you just need to take your time. Slow down. You can't rush a good bowl of soup or Slow Art Day.

Still reading?

OK...

Here's how you make my vegetarian minestrone, focaccia, and a Golden Goose:


FOCACCIA

Ingredients:

  • a palm full of active yeast

  • a couple pinches of salt

  • a couple pinches of sugar

  • enough warm water

  • enough olive oil

  • enough flour (I use a combination of all purpose and spelt)

  • some rosemary


Directions:

I don't have exact measurements because I size it up or down depending on how many loaves I want to make. It's about texture of dough. So....dissolve the salt, sugar, yeast and a hand full of flour in the water. Let the yeast activate for 5 minutes or so. Then add in some olive oil and start mixing in the flour until the dough is the right texture. The dough should feel satiny and just slightly on the wet side, but not sticky. Knead it well in a wedging motion until for 8 to 10 minutes. It shouldn't stick to the board but it shouldn't be dry at all. Place the dough in an oiled bowl covered until it rises and doubles in size (about an hour and a half). Then add a generous amount of olive oil to a cookie sheet and press the dough flat into the sheet leaving dimples in the surface with your fingers. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with salt and rosemary and allow to rise a bit while the oven preheats to 425 for 20 minutes. Then bake for 25 to 35 minutes. It's done when it looks like the photo.


LARISSA'S MINESTRONE

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yukon gold potato

  • 3 stalks of celery

  • 2 large carrots

  • 1 medium sized onion

  • 1 medium sized zucchini

  • a large bunch of oyster mushrooms

  • 1/4 cup frozen corn

  • 2 bunches dandelion greens

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley

  • 1 can borlotti beans

  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper corns

  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 6 cloves of garlic minced

  • 1 jar crushed tomato or 1/2 a bottle of tomato juice

  • enough water

  • enough salt

  • 1/2 a stick butter

  • a drizzle of olive oil

  • parmesan cheese to garnish


Directions:

Chop the potato, carrot, celery, and onion. Mince the garlic. Pull apart and separate the oyster mushrooms. Put these things in your soup pot with the butter, olive oil, bay leaves and black pepper corns. Saute over medium high heat until fragrant. Then add the rosemary, crushed tomato or tomato juice, oregano and some salt. Add enough water to make the soup the thickness you desire. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the beans and bring to a boil once again. Once the veggies are tender taste again for salt. Add if needed. Add the orzo to the boiling soup. When the orzo is half done chop and add the dandelion greens. Once the orzo is done and the greens are tender taste again for salt. Add if needed. Chop the zucchini and parsley. Add this to the soup with the frozen corn. Cover and turn off the heat. Allow to combine for 5 to 8 minutes then serve garnished with parmesan with the bread and a:


GOLDEN GOOSE

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 shots of Grey Goose Vodka

  • a splash of orange juice

  • 1 can flavored bubbly water of your choice

  • a couple splashes of orange bitters


Mix it together in your tall glass and enjoy.


BON APPETITO.



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