Written by Emily Franklin, Education and Outreach Intern for the Spring 2014 semester.
Digest This!, a first of its kind series of events here at SITE Santa Fe in conjunction with our current exhibition, Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art on view through May 18, 2014, has hit the ground running. Every Tuesday this March, SITE extended an invitation to the Santa Fe community to join us for a not-so-standard “artist talk.” Each event deviated from a classic lecture style, stimulating the mind and taste buds by incorporating visual presentations, presenter-audience conversation, and, of course, food and drinks.
Truly a community event, the Digest This! series welcomed over 100 Santa Feans and visitors into SITE’s gallery-turned-dining hall to try delectables from local businesses, including Cowgirl BBQ, La Choza, Tune-Up Café, Second Street Brewery, Atrisco Café & Bar, Izanami, and Santa Fe Spirits. The series also featured other New Mexican organizations and individuals such as Cooking with Kids, Albuquerque poet laureate Hakim Bellamy, sake sommeliers Deborah Fleig and Linda Tetrault, coffee roaster Tai Ayers, Bizia Greene from Etiquette School of Santa Fe, and author Carmella Padilla.
Both new and familiar faces filtered into the event space each Tuesday, casually nodding to people they might recognize but faithfully chatting with the person they arrived with. Until the treats came out. Whether it was sampling a flight of sake with individual snack pairings at Digest This: Izakaya Dining & Artisanal Sake or practicing continental vs. American style etiquette over a squash casserole at Digest This: Coffee & Etiquette, our once-shy guests unfailingly began sharing words with the person next to them, across from them, at the other end of the table from them. “Is this the apple brandy or the single malt whiskey?” echoed across the dining room as new acquaintanceships were formed over… booze… at Digest This: Spirits & Poetry, and chuckles escaped at Digest this: Celebrating Family Cooking & Some Like it Hot: The History and Hospitality of New Mexico Chile when Carmella Padilla read a passage from her book about green chile, a subject of shared New Mexican camaraderie.
One guest at our chile event asked, “How does this program tie into SITE, the exhibition and mission?” From the perspective of a fly on the wall, it was clear to me that sharing food and drinks sparks conversation. Be it with your husband, wife, best friends, or lecturer, the act of gathering around a table and nourishing your body creates community. A community so strong that artists across the world have been inspired by that act. Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art is the product of that inspiration and, moreover, the community it builds exemplifies SITE’s mission.
SITE is so excited about the turnout for the Digest This! series and would like to thank all those who attended, presented, and donated! Keep your eyes peeled, ears unfurled, and stomachs hungry for future public programs, as we hope to continue to host this new take on the “artist talk.”