I HAVE THIS recurring fantasy that one day all of the fascinating, creative, marvelous Savannahians I meet on this job will be at the same dinner party.
The artists and the activists will hobnob with the literati and the laugh riots, the din of so much spectacular conversation mingling with background tunes from local troubadours.
Everyone will bring something delicious to share, and after we’ve stuffed ourselves silly, we’ll all settle in to look at some slides of cool art, possibly made by the same person who brought the wasabi artichoke dip. Suggested attire will be your favorite pair of comfy pants, and afterwards people will fake-argue over who gets to do the dishes.
I’d invite y’all over to my house, but my old yellow Formica table only seats eight. Plus, crowds make the guinea pig nervous.
But, guess what? We’re in luck! More specifically, Slideluck:
The world’s sexiest community potluck returns to Savannah this Thursday, Nov. 13, ready to showcase local art and your homemade casseroles.
Pairing a crowdsourced meal with a carefully-curated selection of 2-3 minute slideshows, these non-profit events were first conceived in a Seattle living room in 2000. Slidelucks are now hosted in more than 85 cities around the world, and until recently were known as the Slideluck Potshow (still illegal in Georgia, but there’s always next election cycle.)
The official goal of Slideluck is to “strengthen community through food and art.” (as if there was a better way!)
Its secret mission, however, is to season Savannah’s aesthetic cravings without spoiling anyone’s appetite.
“We want to demystify the art experience,” explains organizer Summer Teal Simpson. “This isn’t a snooty gallery. People can look at art with their friends and not feel like they’re supposed to say something about it. They can just like it, or not.”
Apparently we like our art demystified around here, because the first Slideluck practically blasted the roof off the American Legion Post 135 ballroom back in January 2013. Summer and another of Savannah’s most delightful and unpretentious arts patrons, Francis Allen, sifted through almost a hundred submissions and about as many types of pasta salad for the homegrown production.
They also had to turn away folks at the door, causing Slideluck Global to sit up and take notice. The international non-profit has been courting the Hostess City for another event ever since, but anyone who’s checked the Sav Happs app lately knows we keep our dance cards pretty full.
“Savannah had such a strong showing, but it was such a huge undertaking,” sighs Summer, who has volunteered fountains of blood, sweat and tears for tons of other excellent cultural happenings from Stopover to Fashion Night. Now that she has a steady gig at Focus Lab, she’s had to pare down her extracurriculars but remains Slideluck’s beneficent ringleader. “I’ve let almost everything else go, but this was my favorite thing I ever did.”
Francis has his own Roots Up Gallery to run with his lovely Leslie Lovell this time around, so Slideluck II has enlisted the aid of some of Savannah’s other big brains couched in its most fabulous shoes:
You’re Welcome Savannah co-creator and Pintrest dominatrix Autumn VanGunten has taken on production duties (the centerpieces are baby terrariums, shut up). Gallerist Jeanne Svendson returns with her essential aesthetic guidance, all while finalizing the last details of her wedding—just a tiny affair of a few hundred that takes place two days after Slideluck, no big deal.
Bree Halverson of Orange PR rounds out this formidable cadre of feminine superpower, sprinkling a gentle rain of publicity upon the fertile ground of Savannah’s eager communitarians. While new to the creative coven, she’s attended Slidelucks in other cities and expects we’ve got the recipe down.
“In New York, you’re desperate to find community,” muses Bree, a recovering Brooklynite. “In Savannah, it’s here—it’s just about finding a big enough space.”
My point exactly! The Legion ballroom can hold 300 before the fire marshal starts grousing, so the popular Savannah practice of showing up an hour late for dinner might get you relegated to the foyer.
Admission is five bucks plus a covered dish or whatever you pick up on your way; $10 if you show up empty-handed.
If potlucks strike the fear of marshmallow-flecked Jell-O in your belly, don’t worry: Dept. 7 East’s Meta Adler and Michele Jemison are bringing trays of their dreamy pimento cheese tea sandwiches, and there will be a fancy Savannah Bee Co. cheese and honey board. Save room for something ridiculously delicious for dessert from Natasha Gaskill and her brand new A-Squad Bake Shop. Other notable noshes will come from Flirt with Dessert, 22 Square and the Sentient Bean.
Foodie coordinator Shabnam Gideon admonishes y’all to arrive early, label your dish and serving utensil and take it all home with you at the end of the night—or you may find someone stirring their cocktail with your ladle when the Legion bar finally opens again after a fire toasted it earlier this year. (I’m hearing early December. I also wait, salivating, for the return of Betty Bombers’ onion rings.)
The supper serenade comes courtesy of the cool cats of Missionary Blues, and other local support comes from Blick Art Materials and the audio/visual aces at Kaufman & Heinz, whose gargantuan screens will ensure that this slideshow will be nothing like sitting through 150 fuzzy shots of my parents’ 1979 trip to Greece.
As a reward for our tremendous togetherness, Slideluck Global is sending down 26 cases of beer from Brooklyn Brewery for this 21+ event. (Hello, free beer. Not even part of my original fantasy, but sometimes you don’t even know what you want until it shows up.)
But the finest fare of the evening will be the art, served up sans pomposity. I can’t wait to loosen my belt for the paintings, photographs, sculptures, jewelry and mixed media fashioned by local and Savannah-connected artists—some whom we know well and some we’ve yet to meet.
So pass the salt and excuse my elbows on the table: At Slideluck, there’s no such thing as a stranger.