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Calling all Food & Drink Lovers: Be a Part of the American Pantry MAP

Calling all Food & Drink Lovers: Be a Part of the American Pantry MAP Calling all Food & Drink Lovers: Be a Part of the American Pantry MAP
National photographic project by artist Andrea Blum celebrates American food culture with photo shoot at Montalvo on Sept. 29 at 1:30pm

At 1:30pm on September 29, 2013, culinary artist Andrea Blum invites the community to participate in her national photography project  My American Pantry: a celebration of creativity, taste, community, and entrepreneurship. Taking place on the Great Lawn of the Montalvo Arts Center, the event will begin with an aerial photo shoot, followed by a community picnic with participants sharing dishes prepared from family recipes. The resulting photo will be included in an interactive digital atlas of American food and drink representing American food and entrepreneurship. 

It is free to participate, but advance registration is required. Please sign up at  myamericanpantry.com/montalvo-picnic-phot o.

This will be the first time Blum has invited the general public to participate in one of her MAP photo shoots In the past, she has limited participants to professional artisan food and drink producers, including cheese makers, vintners, and farmers. “Part of the aim of my project is to celebrate the rich local traditions around the preparation and sharing of food,” she said. “Asking participants to share family recipes seemed like the natural evolution of the project.”

All participants will be asked to bring a picnic blanket of a specific color, a homemade food to share, and the recipe for the dish. Participants who are professional artisan producers will also be asked to bring products and tools of the trade of their craft. “Be prepared to relax in the grass and to share what you bring with those around you,” said Blum. “We will do the rest with the composition and with the remote control camera flying above.”

Begun in 2013, the My American Pantry (MAP) project is an interactive tapestry of people, food, story, and recipes that celebrate the American table, conceived of by culinary artist Andrea Blum. Traveling around the country, Blum documents the wide array of artisans, products, and food traditions native to different geographic areas. First arranging participants and the tools of their trade in a carefully designed composition, Blum then captures the image via aerial photography by means of a remote-controlled camera. The photo shoots also provide an opportunity to gather stories from participants about their practices, products, and their craft. 

The end-goal is to create an online and offline map of people, products, and stories allowing viewers and even shoppers to interact with the images and stories. Blum hopes to bring the finalized project from all 50 states to the World's Fair in Milan in 2015. More information about the MAP project is available at  myamericanpantry.com.       

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in California, Andrea Blum is a journalist and chef turned entrepreneur. Her passion for food ignited as a child after eating her first French meal in a famous restaurant in Philadelphia at 11 years old. That experience changed the way she thought about food. At 20 years old, she took a year to study in France learning the history, art, and cultural significance of food that would quickly become part of a lifelong fascination. Though she later returned to France and Italy to resume her studies of fresco painting and art restoration, every moment of her free time was spent exploring the cooking, farming, and culture of the French and Italian food world, with mothers, grandmothers, master cheese makers, and artisans.

In 2003, Blum traded her paintbrush for pen, graduating from Columbia University in Journalism with awards in social justice reporting. She has since worked as a reporter covering the environment in Northern California. But she has also stayed close to her passion for food, writing for newspapers and magazines such Gourmet and Saveur, and hosting tours to discover and indulge in Italian regional "food worlds" such as the Cilento and Amalfi Coast regions of Campania.

Blum’s interests have always been related to the geography of food; she seeks to discover the stories each dish can tell whether it’s from the highlands of Tibet or in remote villages in Turkey. My American Pantry (MAP) is an extension of her geographic quest to follow food back to where it’s made. Only this time, she has chosen to focus on American artisan food, its rebirth, its crafters and its terroir.  
Blum's photo shoot is presented as part of the public programming organized around Flourish: Artists Explore Wellbeing, Montalvo’s latest multiyear programming theme, coordinated by the Lucas Artists Residency Program in collaboration with Montalvo’s Education Department. Through exhibitions, conversations, performances, and workshops, Montalvo explores the question, “How can we live meaningful, happy, and healthy lives?” For more information, please visit  montalvoarts.org/flourish.

Who: Culinary artist Andrea Blum, in partnership with the Montalvo Arts Center
What: A public potluck picnic and photo shoot, organized around the My American Pantry project to celebrate American food and drink.
Where: Great Lawn of the Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga, CA.
When: Sunday, September 29, at 1:30pm
Admission: Free to participate, but advance registration is required. Please sign up at   myamericanpantry.com/montalvo-picnic-phot o.

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