A Landscape Of Memories

Spectacular table settings, cuisine cookbook release sure to captivate visitors as the Bosque Arts Center opens its doors for 2020 Tablescapes

CLIFTON – During the holiday season all over the nation, families gather to give thanks and to celebrate religious holidays together. Some are all about relaxing and having fun, dressing down in cozy fleece for a barbecue with football and beer.

But many families choose to use the festive occasions as an opportunity to dress up and roll out the nice china and silverware for a formal dinner. A beautifully decked table themed-out with family heirlooms, graced with the appropriate table cloth, flatware, dinner ware and glass ware adding panache to the evening of entertaining friends, family and other guests.

With so many events cancelled this year, the Bosque Arts Center was determined to keep one of its immensely popular and fun fundraising events going. Maybe because of this, the 2020 Tablescapes brought the art and skill of table setting to a whole different level.

“This year’s event is definitely over the top,” Event organizer Jan Kieta said. “There were new groups added to the exhibitors. And boy, did everybody show up.”

The exhibit put together by local Bosque County ladies as well as several group efforts runs from Nov. 20 through Dec. 12 during the BAC’s open hours of Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission will be $5 per person with children under 12 free.

The BAC’s Culinary Club took advantage of the special exhibit to launch their “The Art of Cooking” cookbook filled with recipes from their culinary wizards. The beautiful cover art Jelly Jars by Kathy Tate was the 2013 Art Patron's Purchase Award at the Bosque Art Classic, and it hangs in the BAC second floor gallery. The cookbook is available through Amazon, Hulu Publishing, the BAC gift shop and at the Tablescapes entry table. It is the perfect holiday gift.

The Culinary Club had played around with the idea of a cookbook for two years, but it never came to fruition because of busy schedules and the likes. The respite in activities due to COVID-19 got club members inspired to finally make the special cookbook happen.

The Culinary Club was founded in 2007 to provide BAC members an opportunity to cook together, learn about the culinary arts, and host food events in the excellent commercial-style kitchen.

The funds raised with the cookbook will help finance a variety of Club activities from cooking demonstrations and/or dinners by “celebrity chefs” like Tom Perini, Grady Spears, Gerard Thompson, Michael Osborn, and Ken Patrick. The Culinary Club also uses their funds to purchase items, such as serving utensils or new dishes, for kitchen use and they make a yearly donation to the BAC for building use.

The Culinary Club formally meets every other month, but they often host dinners/lunches for BAC events, so they actually cook together quite a lot. Their formal meetings include speakers, wine tastings, cooking demos or food prepared by chefs to be enjoyed just by the Club members.

For example, Kevin Wenzel, owner of Wiseman House Chocolates, demonstrated a special chocolate dessert. Martha Hopkins, cookbook author and teacher, prepared scones. Local restaurateurs Raul Contreras of Cactus Grill and Nena Rieser of Corner Drug Cafe have brought their talents to the Club, as did Private Chefs Theresa Carrier and Jenny Ellis, and the official chocolate taster for M&M/Mars.

“If you are interested in the culinary arts, we have a place for you at the BAC in the Culinary Club,” Club member Virginia Richards said. “And be sure to buy the cookbook to help fund fun events after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”

Special thanks goes to Blake Holman for compiling all the recipes into a manuscript and working with the publisher, as well as BAC Art Club member Judith Baker for compiling all the black-and-white illustrations.

One thing’s certain, the cookbook’s recipes also evoke fond family memories. And they would look fabulous on the finely decked Tablescape displays. Staying in the cooking theme of course, the Club also has a Cookies for Santa table filled with all manner of baking attributes and recipes.

From the simply endearing to classic class to just fun, you’ll find it all at Tablescapes. Several tables stop the viewer, and remember times gone by, dearly loved ones passed on, triggering sweet memories.

This year’s event kicked off without the typical opening night reception. But that did not diminish the sheer wonder on seeing the approximately 40 tables on display in the Tin Building Theatre.

Each table sparks one’s imagination on the back story. Even if you go round the exhibit twice, something new will catch your eye. The sheer creativity and thought put behind the tables is admirable, and the first class execution and attention to detail astonishing.

All of that to the sound of smooth jazz from Sinatra and Satchmo to French Chansons and soul music filling the room, the exhibit is simply delightful.

Return visitors might remember Emily Neal’s An Affair to Remember and Howling at the Moon, a continuing “mostly true” love story.

The first year started with “An arranged lunch date ending with her suggesting ice cream and him suggesting drinks at his club…” Last year, the two lovers were on a beach somewhere after a shellfish dinner, with some wine and beer. “Life was good. No, life was great. In fact they didn’t think it could get much better, but then…”

What twist did this year bring? It’s a shocker and a final chapter. That table alone is worth a visit.

But then there is the joint venture table Dia de Los Muertos overflowing with memories of dear departed family members and friends, including the furry ones. The name of the table is from the deeply spiritual holiday in Mexican culture, celebrating the deceased with food and drink.

As the contributors built the table with food, drink, games and memorabilia, they took the time to talk about their loved ones they were honoring, surrounding themselves with joyful memories.

“We had no idea the profound impact that this table would have on us, and we hope that you catch the wonder of it all!” the caption reads.

Each paw print at the Rainbow Bridge table by Sharon Mooberry bears the name of a furry friend that is now in the heavenly meadows and hills, enjoying the eternal sunshine, playing with other pet angels.

And the Bosque Civic Music Association table was dedicated to their dear friend, talented musician and vocalist Steve Watson, who passed away earlier this year. Donations are sought to establish a piano instruction lab in his name for students young and old so that they too can be exposed to the joy and enlightenment music brings – something which gave Watson’s life special purpose.

And then, there’s everybody’s favorite sloppy uncle’s TV tray and hideous chair. Bubba T. Johnston’s set-up just makes you smile – from the cigar butt in the ashtray, the huge pot of prescription pills, the mac-n-cheese on the sectioned dinner plate, the Bond’s body powder within arm’s reach and the papers, assorted magazines and books strewn across the carpet with the reading glasses.

It’s as if the pot-bellied, unshaven, but totally loveable old grump with a big heart just stepped out to walk the “dawg.”

Some tables had place settings for some very illustrious characters. Karen Cornett’s It’s a Jungle Out There brought Tarzan, Jane, Jane Goodall, Mufasa, Simba and Jack Hanna together for a meal. At the Bosque County Spay and Neuter table, Lassie, Old Yeller, Garfield, Toto, Felix and the Cheshire Cat shared stories about other furry, four-legged beasties.

Some mighty interesting, stylish stories could be told at the The Cliftex Theatre table by the movie star dinner guests Greta Garbo, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey and Paul Newman. Wayne is a bit the “odd man out,” but he had finagled his way onto the guest list by bribing the maitre ‘d to sit by his “way out of his league” infatuation, Greta.

Sculptress Bobbe Gentry once again had specifically sculpted items and hand-painted all manner of clowns for her colorful table called The Clown’s Café.

These are but a few examples of the 40-plus tables on display; all worth seeing and admiring.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, each attendee to Tablescapes will be required to wear a mask and follow viewing instructions, which include maintaining social distancing.

Entrance to Tablescapes is through the main front doors and immediately into the theatre. Please do not let the minor restrictions keep you from enjoying the exquisite display of creativity in sensational table setting.

Note: Other areas of the BAC will be closed to the public during the exhibit and the BAC will be closed Thanksgiving weekend.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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