You must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot at Kitchen of Innovation. We have a limited amount of food and will have to turn people away once we reach our capacity. Spots are going quickly, so please RSVP if you are planning on attending. We look forward to seeing you very soon!
Kitchen Of Innovation
Produced by Ellen Chenoweth and Kate Mattingly
Saturday October 23
8 to 10 PM
@ St. Stephens Church
1525 Newton Street, NW
RSVP to guarantee seat: email@example.com.
What is Kitchen of Innovation?
Nosh on wraps provided by Sweetgreen.
Imbibe drinks by Marvin. (2 per person with your entry ticket.)
Devour cupcakes by Frosting.
Listen to presentations by terrific DC artists.
The artist with the most votes takes home the income from the night.
(p.s. there will be vegetarian and vegan options available!)
The first time I went to designer and artist Yana Sakellion’s website, I was blown away by her work and its stunning originality. Her videos are still haunting the pathways of my brain. Yana doesn’t draw a distinction between her design practice and her fine art and in a recent interview explained that she feels the two areas are “thinking in different modes about the same set of questions. Ideally, you would be solving the same problems.” Part of that perspective comes from her graduate education at the Rhode Island School of Design, which valued interdisciplinary exchange. Personally, I see a cleanness and clear focus that cuts across both her design portfolio and her astonishing visual and interactive art. There’s a distillation that occurs, so that several months after seeing The Dress, I still see a lone kitten referenced in the video.
But being a creative mastermind doesn’t always mean that you’re easy to work with. Yana excels in this area as well. She gently coaxed me to thoroughly think through what image we were going for with Kitchen of Innovation. In our initial meetings, she encouraged me to freely associate words and share ideas even if they seemed silly. When we didn’t have answers or hadn’t thought about a certain option, Yana would gently make suggestions, creating connective tissue from what we did have. And then she didn’t rest until the postcards were in hand. When there was an issue with the online print service we were using, Yana logged in, argued with the support people on our behalf, and then sent me a screen shot of their chat so I could know exactly what had been discussed in case I needed to reference it! (Did I mention that she agreed to donate her services to Kitchen of Innovation?!) Maybe all graphic designers are this wonderful and client-supporting, but I don’t really think so…. So check out the site of this amazing local artist; we are lucky to have her!
OK, does everyone know how awesome local business sweetgreen is? From participating in DC Capital Area Food Bank’s Farm to School Week, where restaurants pair up with schools to teach kids about healthy local foods, to enthusiastically donating delicious wraps to Kitchen of Innovation, sweetgreen is a local business that knows how to support the community, while serving up tasty and nutritious meals.
Kate points out that their philosophy is aligned with that of KOI – “‘keep it real. care about your impact. share your gifts.’ Sweetgreen states its values as: “We believe we are all put on the planet with the potential to use our talents to make a difference, even if that difference is just a few extra smiles a day on the faces of our friends. No man is an island. We recognize and celebrate our connections.” When I hear people talk about food this way, it makes me think of great performances and exhibits which also emphasize our relationships with one another and the impact of the choices we make. In other words, lots of parallels can be drawn between food and the arts as the things that nourish us and give us sustenance.” They also use ingredients from local farmers, another way of nurturing and supporting the DC area.
If you enjoy the wraps at KOI (and the odds are good that you will!), stop by when you’re in Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Dupont, Logan Circle, Bethesda, or Reston, and return the love!
Kate and I attended multiple programs this summer at local gallery Transformer as part of their Sustainability series. One session in particular really captured our imaginations as Abigail Satinsky and Bryce Dwyer of Chicago-based InCUBATE (Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and the Everyday) discussed their project Sunday Soup and Jeff Hnilicka described a similar effort underway in Brooklyn, called FEAST. The three began rattling off cities where like-minded dinners were taking place and Kate and I both thought that it was obvious that DC should be on the list.
DC doesn’t always feel like a hospitable town for art-making, frequently overshadowed by the federal government and the sprawling non-profit industrial complex, just to name a couple of easy targets. And yet there are some amazing artists who call DC home and create work here without always getting the recognition they deserve. As someone who is involved with both the dance and visual arts scene here, I’m interested in creating a space where disparate disciplines can come together, and helping to support those artists who don’t fit within neat genre borders.
I attended the Creative Time Summit last weekend and Abigail/Bryce spoke about Sunday Soup and Jeff was part of a clever skit describing FEAST. You can watch these short videos from the summit to see part of the inspiration from KOI:
Abigail and Bryce from InCUBATE
And take a look at all the places people are coming together over food to give some money to creative projects! Check out our cute blue chef down there! (this is a partial list, more being added in the weeks to come)
The more I have become immersed in the arts and the lives of artists, the more intrigued I become by the conditions that foster, encourage and nurture creativity.
In DC there have been recent exhibitions and performances that left indelible impressions, often created by lesser known makers (not the people with companies or galleries or full-time teaching positions at local universities). These events make me wonder how local artists find the funding and feedback that seem to be essential to art-making, particularly when these events occur at lesser-known venues, attended by small audiences and written about on local websites rather than mainstream publications. If these are the creations that are exploring new forms, pressing against staid traditions and making art relevant to people in 2010, how will these artists find the support, patrons and infrastructure necessary to continue creating?
One possible answer came in June of 2010 when Ellen Chenoweth and I were among a small group of people at Transformer Gallery listening to a presentation by Jeff Hnilicka. Hnilicka is one of the founders of FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics) and with him that afternoon were Bryce Dwyer and Abigail Satinsky who createdInCUBATE in Chicago. These events are sometimes called “network dinners” because they bring together people who wish to support artists and provide a delicious meal – sometimes simple, sometimes gourmet. Attendees listen to artists’ proposals and select projects to receive the income of the evening. The Wahington Post wrote about STEW in Baltimore in June. These dinners also exist in Minneapolis, Portland, Boston, Jersey City, Philadelphia, St. Louis and other locales.
In October, DC will have its first. Called KOI for Kitchen Of Innovation, the evening is being organized by Ellen and me. We have selected a group of artists whose works have inspired us and compelled us to explore ways to bring more attention and support to their creations. It is a diverse group – dancers, choreographers, film-makers, visual artists and puppet groups. Invitations went out to artists at the end of August asking if they would like to participate. Within 10 minutes of sendidng the emails, one artist had replied “Just a quick response to say I think this is an AWESOME idea” and another wrote back “LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! So happy you are putting this together and I would love to be a part of it.”
On October 23 we will gather in Columbia Heights at St. Stephen’s Church. Attendees will pay on a sliding scale (between $15 and $20) to savor food local growers and businesses and to hear from artists seeking support. Attendees and artists vote on the proposals they wish to fund and the projects with the most votes receive the income from the event. As we wrote to the artists: the purpose of KOI is to make contact with artists who are emerging, inspiring and innovative, to find ways to turn their plans into reality, to connect artists with potential patrons and collaborators and to cultivate the community of creativity that exists in DC.
The feedback we are receiving is fueling our motivation and momentum: it is a project that requires a huge amount of volunteer labor and donations of services. But the outcome more than compensates: for an artist to meet like-minded innovators, to grow their audience by another 30 or 50 or 80 people, and to have a chance to spend a night on the town and end up with money to put towards their next creation. This is definitely worthwhile.
For more information about how to be a part of this event or to reserve a spot, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you at St. Stephen’s on October 23, 8 p.m.!