An Artist-Curator’s Thoughts

The Vision: Alexis C Plank has a very specific vision for her “Family Supper Plank Dinners”. They take place on Sundays. Each food has a place on the table that is intentional. She knows what goes where and how it goes there. She wants to pay farmers for their hard, physical labor in the open field, in the dirt, under this beating sun to give us the best food possible.

We are all huddled together for these “Plank” dinners. Friends, new friends, our little community growing a little stronger, a little softer, side by side. I thought since we were eating off the table, why even bother with utensils? Serving each other was the most fun. I like to use my fingers for salad and meat. I like the casualness and my posture to be as organic as the food. I love seeing Alexis plate food with her fingers. “Yes, people who make food for other people use their fingers,” she said.

Alexis activated my courtyard and the show “Community / Humanity” with what people in the art world call, “Social Practice”. Practice perhaps because we are learning so much about how to collaborate. How to let go and when to take charge. With the help of friends, we have a tribe to build together;

The Prep: Clinton and I tried to hang a parachute up as a sun shade which my higher self said wouldn’t work, but it was too beautiful not to try. I told Alexis that the pool area was for the volunteers and cooks to prep and smoke the chickens. We all jumped into the pool as it’s an Ojai summer and they ended up just staying naked chopping veggies and pulling poultry out. Fire making… when guests arrived they were still kinda half-naked. I’ll never forget them making fire naked, slapping butts at the cutting board.

The Dinner: People were in my garden chatting and pointing; Connor, a permaculture person who built his own house and kitchen on his folks property, Hayden a gardener homie and Dan, a friend. Familiar faces trickled in but also guests of the artists; a mix of filmmakers, shop owners, neighbors. I was so thrilled to see Alexis, knee deep in my fire pit cooking that (Griffin helped me dig) and throwing logs in. I wanted a really deep pit fire for ceramics and fit for a whole pig if I wanted to coal cook it.

Ashley, brought gorgeous herbs for the table settings. I sent her pictures inspired by Chez Panisse’s annual Bastille Day party of garlic wreaths and fennel. She helped serve at the bar, set candles. Gave light female energy. Mark and Molly brought ice. Molly said to me, “I hate doing dishes, so it’s my dhanna for you.” She had previously helped me wash dishes after Sat Puran’s “Pie and Pool Party Artist Talk”. Hayden showed up with unfiltered sake and to help with anything. Tyler filled in and manned the bar, and his friend donated beers to sell. I was so touched.

Post-Pre Thoughts:

I had lived here alone for most of the first year, healing after the Thomas Fire had taken my home, my art and then when I was ready, I wanted to be with my community again. See who was out there. With Chiron House, in full effect for our “Community / Humanity”, we waved a seriously, big magical wand with all the volunteers, sweat and bodies moving tables, chairs, wood, food, art and people through space. Ilka took 5 days off her busy schedule from up north to come hang the show with me and tell all her magnificent stories. Cara came by the gallery the day before and installed her “Seaweavings”with me. Alexis, after 3 weeks together, shifted seats, added an extra day and prepared a deliciously seasonal meal. Best pickled apricots and lemon cucumbers I ever did meet. The timing that chefs have with serving hot food still blows my mind every time. Thank your mothers!

So, thank you. Thank you. To everyone who led. To everyone who held. To everyone who brought good energy. To everyone, especially Alexis Plank for this memorable endeavor. Everyone had a magical time… x Betty

More about Alexis C Plank

Photos by Sam Stenson

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