Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Art & Breakfast

Croissant Story


I could spend a lifetime photographing the stories of where our food comes from, all the way from the fields to the table. And, I love to meet people who put knowledge  and passion into what they do. 

These images are  from my recent series of hand painted acrylic transfer prints on wood. Not only are they hanging at one of our favorite local eateries "Barbs Bakery & Bistro", but they're also of  the bakery, and what goes on there in the wee hours of the morning. The show will be up until the end of July. 
If you're interested in learning more about how this series came about,
 I'll attach the show statement below.

I've been enjoying experimenting with acrylic transfer printing lately, and this technique seemed particularly appropriate for a subject that is all about hand made. The transfer techniques are tricky, but also a lot of fun to do. It takes me back to my days of working with Polaroid films,  producing similar effects, yet with all new latitudes. 

Slow food is happening fast every night in the Barb's kitchen....
This series of photographs came about thanks to a Christmas cookie.
A couple of years ago, during the winter holidays, my daughters and I made some cookies that we put a lot of love into. As a holiday greeting,  I posted a picture of them to my art blog.
Not long after that, Barb's owners, Jennie and Jason, began plans to build a new website for their bakery & cafe. Jennie came across my blog, saw my cookie posting, and thought she may have found a photographer who just might also be a foodie.  She was right. 
I have been coming to Barb's for years, and have been impressed by the incredible job Jason and Jennie have done to restore, and expand upon, something the legendary Barb started many years ago. 
I, for one, am really glad they have managed to turn it back into a place where locals enjoy gathering for coffee, good food, and a chat.  Long before these photographs were made, I admired the sight of the freshly baked loaves of bread, lined up neatly on the wood rack behind the pastry case, which is also always full of decadent eye candy. So - I was glad to accept the task of creating a body of work for Barb's.
Jennie, Jason and I sat down one day and made a plan for what they might need for their website. To get to know their products better, I came down one night last summer at midnight and stayed until morning, observing the whole process.
To say I was impressed would be a massive understatement. Jason, and his amazing assistant baker Kai, moved like athletes non-stop all night. The whole event (and it is an event!), in a few words, was all about experience, teamwork, efficiency, and care. With the stereo playing, Jason and Kai stayed in perpetual swift motion. Glancing from time to time up at the clock all night, and with few words spoken, they turned scoops of flour into an incredible variety of  picturesque breads, croissants, & pastries. They worked with the urgency of being up against the clock, yet with an amazing gracefulness and quiet confident artistry. 
When the sun began to come up, they literally ran the hot loaves to the wood display shelves, and filled the baskets with pastries. 
Without a doubt, what I most appreciated observing was the utter care with which each and every single pastry and bread loaf was handled. I could see that Jason gets truly excited when the dough is just right, the edges of the bread are exactly the right brown, and the danish pastry is perfectly tender -"real butter is key". He held each pastry like he was putting a baby bird back in it's nest, and as if he didn't have 500 more to make.
In a world that has gone way too far down the road of mechanized mass food production, I am relieved that this island is one oasis where reverence for food and it's origins is still alive and well. That's
easy to see at the market on Saturdays. Not so easy to see what happens in the Barbs kitchen, six nights a week. That's why I wanted to show some of the photos. Trust me, the show is not a Barb's ad. That's not necessary - you're already here. 
The show is to pay homage to Jennie and Jason for keeping it real. Speaking of which, the barley levain bread - toasted...wow!
PS The Barb's website was completed, thanks to the expertise of Morgan Donnelly, and it looks great!