Live, Eat, Create

Live, Eat, Create

Brightwater blends ingredients for new series


On June 7, Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food will launch a bold new experience with its Brightwater Salon Series.

“Since we are primarily a culinary school, there are limited ways for the public to engage with us,” says Jessie Wagner, Brightwater’s business development manager, of the impetus behind the event. “So we wanted to invite the public in to experience what we do here.”

Wagner says the burgeoning arts community in Northwest Arkansas was a logical partner for the endeavor.

“We realized that a big part of what makes this community special is the art scene here,” says Wagner. “We wanted to explore food and art as equal expressions, with food elevated to the level of fine arts.”

The inaugural event will feature Chef Aria Kagan and artist Hubert Neal Jr., and the theme is “how art, food and the visual arts in particular heal the mind, soul and body.”

“Aria Kagan is coming to Brightwater for the month of June to manage a lot of the programs Brightwater is putting on,” says Wagner. “She’s a private chef in Florida, and the driving force with her food is that it’s local — she wanted all the ingredients to come from within 20 miles of Brightwater. I think we’re going to achieve that about 90 percent.”

Neal is the owner/operator of Bentonville art gallery The Visual Poet’s Society and the artist behind various public and private art murals like the one behind Peddler’s Pub in Bentonville. He says he was immediately intrigued by the salon concept.

“When you hear something unusual, that’s a challenge — you can be sure you’re going to do something new, or something that’s never been seen or rarely seen,” he says. “And it might just be successful, on top of it.”

Courtesy photo
“I’ve always considered food edible art,” says artist Hubert Neal Jr. who, along with Chef Aria Kagan, will be creating a feast for the eyes and stomach at Brightwater’s first salon. “You’re mixing different things together to come up with something, and you make something beautiful.”

Attending the Salon Series will be a unique opportunity for art lovers to see him work.

“There’s this wonder of, ‘How is this person doing this thing?’” Neal says. “Watching the making of anything is always interesting, but there’s a kind of romanticizing of art — watching someone seemingly create something out of nothing. I like it — it’s like putting on a show.”

Wagner says that, going forward, there will be two Salon Series events a year, each pairing a noted area chef with a visual or performance artist. The Brightwater Salon Advisory Council of 12 members will be responsible for choosing participants and themes.

“I want the selection of the artists and chefs to be equitable and represent the community as a whole,” says Wagner.

Wagner says accessibility is also a key factor of the event.

“The most important part of the salon is that it’s supposed to provide a place of accessibility to emerging artists and students of the arts,” says Wagner. “Toward that end, we’ll give away a round of tickets each time. We’re talking right now to different high school teachers and teachers on the main campus of NWACC [to identify students]. They’ll be seated at the table with professional artists and people that consume art [and have] a chance to be a part of that conversation.”



Brightwater Salon Series

WHEN —6:30 p.m. June 7

WHERE — Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food in Bentonville

COST — $70

INFO — 631-8600

Categories: Food