I magine a dinner with wildflower-crowned maitake mushroom cakes, blood orange-sea urchin foam, Tassajara Meats with king trumpet mushrooms and savory nettles, king salmon with wild onion blossoms and baby beet-dark chocolate tarts with Schoch Family Farmstead crème fraîche.
Imagine a runway, fashion-show style, but instead of models on it, artists and creators and designers and photographers illuminating their unique craft, whether that’s atypical textiles, insane nature-scapes or arresting oil paintings.
Imagine a cool bar – and an art space – built out of shipping pallets like you see burned in bonfires, and the runway made of more wood pallets (and junked doors), done in a way that interweaves taste, sly reuse and an artist’s sensibility.
Do that imagining, and you have a better idea of the type of shindig coming together in a week, and one with voting already open on Facebook. It’s not something we see around here much. Which is precisely the point.
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Fire flared in the dead of night and the dead of winter, then roared up and over and through one of the most beautiful and densely populated neighborhoods in Big Sur. A beloved local artist heard her sister needed life-saving cancer treatment, but couldn’t afford it.
In both cases, real danger and real suffering happened real fast. In both cases, compassionate response was admirably swift, and in both I recognized a face at the center of the swirl.
The first was the Big Sur “Fire Sale” that transformed mountains of donated clothing into an organized pop-up thrift shop and thousands for fire victims. The second was an art opening-rock show-benefit that leveraged gorgeous paintings and good will to help Amanda Burkman fund her sister’s chemo treatments.
Kierstyn Bachmann-Berlin was the face at the center of each. With the blessings of her boss Nicholas De Luca and his firm, OAS Design, she furnished and chaperoned the spaces for each. (Over the years, De Luca has conceived more than 20 patented inventions like robotics, automation and his futuristic super ovens that do pizzas in a minute.) Bachman-Berlin used to work at Casanova (625-0501) and La Bicyclette(622-9899) in Carmel, which led to the ravishing dinner menu by the gracious and generous exec chef at those restaurants, James Anderson. (Sadly, the dinner’s already sold out.) She built the runway stage with the pallets and doors herself, sanded it, and conceived the artist showcase taking place 4-9pm Friday, Feb. 21, in OAS Design’s space above Cannery Row, across from El Torito, through a door accessed by the Rec Trail near Trailside Cafe.
The overriding idea: Give budding local artists a venue – and a deadline – to present why they are worth cultivating with sales and support. From there the good goes in several directions.
“We want create an energy, an incentive, an opportunity for creative and accomplished people, who don’t know – and don’t have – a place to start,” Bachmann-Berlin says. “How do you empower people who are skilled? How do you give them a platform?”
One such artist is a single mother with kids, another is recovering from a catastrophic accident, still another lost everything in the Pfeiffer Fire. All are immensely talented, and selected by a small board, including Bachmann-Berlin, De Luca, Kristi Reimers (of EcoCarmel) and Todd Champagne (Happy Girl Kitchen). Matthew Glasby, for one, is a wizard with Big Sur jade. Shanti Rackley teams with native communities in Peru to find homes for the vivacious woven designs. Domini Anne translates formal ballet training and master knowledge of gyrotonics into luxury athletic clothing with thoroughly ethical sourcing. (Bachmann-Berlin enjoyed Anne’s contributions so much that after inviting her as an artist, she asked her to join the board, which she did.)
Kodiak Greenwood, Rachael Short, Steve Montez, the Temple Sisters, Jamie Oksas, Molly Nance, Marie Greco and Anderson will also show and present. Each are profiled at www.communitypalette.com. Each will host a table with their wares and wonders, giving the top-floor space a pop-up artisan-market effect, and later pitch their form of expression on stage for about 5 minutes. The one collecting the most votes takes home the proceeds from the wider event.
“I love bringing the idea of entrepreneurship to Monterey,” De Luca says. “I love the creative part of it, that energy within the community.”
One vote on the Facebook page – like access to the evening event – comes free. Further votes, in an interesting twist, are available by donation ($10/one; $20/three votes; $100/20 votes).
A short-but-stylish fashion show with Anne’s two fashion brands (one active, one upcycled haute), plus Parker-Lusseau quiches and pastries and wine (for purchase), add to the mix.
While the event stirs together artistic palettes with dynamic palates and upcycled pallets, the name Bachmann-Berlin and her collaborators have coined for the concept is Community Palette. Nominees for the next installment of the artist showcase, planned to be an annual affair, can be submitted through its Facebook page.
“The artists to do their thing,” Bachmann-Berlin says. “They do what they want to do, and we give it back to them.” And they keep inspiring us.
• Speaking of votes (see story, at left),Best Of Monterey County Readers Poll voting wraps this weekend. And we all know the most important/exciting/competitive categories are food – and restaurant-driven. Visit the blog (www.mcweekly.com/edible) to get to the ballot.
• Best Of season helped inspire a pilgrimage to perennial winner for Best Salad, Crazy Horse Restaurant (649-4771), for its everything-and-more salad bar, open 11:30am-9pm with 30-some ingredients, endless dressings, soup, cold cuts, ice cream, potato salad, Waldorf salad, macaroni salad, four-bean salad and more for $12.
• Hold that thought: Abigail Burk, ex chef de cuisine at Bernardus, is heading for Restaurant 1833, not Sierra Mar.
• It will be illuminating to watch P.G.’s David Olsen and his foray into craft brewing. The insurance broker brewed at home, took classes at U.C. Davis and now partners with Hermitage to produce his Andromeda IPA, starring rare and expensive hops from as far off as Australia. The beer’s debut is 6-10pm Saturday, Feb. 22, at Post No Bills (324-4667), with tastings while supplies last and Kuki’s Food Truck on the scene.
• Superior spirit dinner: Chef Cy Yontz pairs things like tequila-cured salmon tostaditas and crisp ahi tuna drizzled with mango-habanero coulis with Clase Azul tequilas and cocktails Thursday, Feb. 20, at Rio Grill($85, 625-5436).
• More than 20 flavorful Valentine’s Day plays can be found on the food blog.
• Updates on landmark beer operations: Alvarado Brewing Company in the old State Theatre (across from Golden State in Monterey) is assembling a team and developing a menu and beers next month, with eyes on a mid-May opening. Dubbers Sports Bar in Oldtown Salinas has survived grease-trap complications and has a week left of construction before staff training. Expect them to open in about a month.
• Salinas Pizza Factory (758-3227) pumps 20 percent of all sales (not just profits) to Housing Resource Center 11am-10pm Thursday, Feb. 20.
• ”The time to relax,” late, great Chicago journalist Sydney J. Harris said, “is when you don’t have time for it.”