Most people know what it’s like to pull up a chair at a family reunion or holiday meal, but not many have tucked their toes under the table at a community harvest feast. Several local art and community organizations are hoping to change that with Saturday’s “Feast on the Street” in downtown Phoenix.
The event’s defining feature will be a half-mile long banquet table, running down First Street between Taylor and Moreland streets. Conjuring images of a glorious wedding feast, the table will be draped in linens and lined with chairs.
People are invited to buy food from the 20 food trucks in attendance or from restaurants along First Street serving “grab and go” meals before sitting down at the vast community table. When the meal is done they can wander along the street to listen to the Arizona Storytellers, enjoy live music from the Bad Cactus Brass Band or learn about mesquite flour from the Valley Permaculture Alliance.
Reclaiming community and fostering sustainability is the goal. Food, art and music are the means.
This concept, though new to Arizona, is an import from the U.K., brought to Phoenix by Clare Patey, ASU Art Museum’s international visiting artist. Patey’s work, focused largely on issues of sustainability, includes the exhibit “CU29” now on display at the ASU Art Museum.
Patey has hosted a similar feast across London’s Southwark Bridge for the past five years and felt Phoenix was ripe for this type of event, said Heather Sealy Lineberry, Senior Curator and Associate Director of the ASU Art Museum, one of the event sponsors.
“In order to solve our environmental issues we must take a broader social and economic perspective,” Lineberry said. “We were naturally interested in Clare’s work and the nature of her work. We’ve been talking to her for three years. The feast has been in build-out phase for about a year.”
Patey collaborated with local artist and area farmer Matthew Moore to create the event, which quickly caught on with other local groups, including Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, said Greg Esser, Desert Initiative Director with the ASU Art Museum.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without all of the community organizations,” said Esser, whose goal is to make “Feast on the Street” a zero waste event. He hopes to accomplish this by having volunteers educate people about green and recyclable waste and composting while encouraging beer vendors to use compostable cups.
“I’m gonna be extremely thrilled if we demonstrate how walkable urban sustainability can feel and work,” he said.
The free event begins 2 p.m. April 13 and kicks off with a giant community salad toss, using bruised produce from local farmers.
“We want to gather a broad Phoenix community in the middle of the urban space around art and food,” Lineberry said. I think it has the potential to be a really unique event in our city.”
IF YOU GO
What: An urban harvest feast focusing on art, food and sustainability
When: 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 13
Where: Downtown Phoenix on First Street from Taylor Street to Moreland Street
Photo: Diners gather on London's Southwark Bridge for a Feast on the Street supper in that city. Clare Patey, ASU Art Museum’s international visiting artist, is bringing a similar event April 13 to downtown Phoenix.