‘Kitchen Memories’ at SVMA celebrates culinary beauty

For decades, a self-admittedly “quirky obsession” has compelled well-known food writer Kathleen Thompson Hill to seek out and comb through the back roads of California, amassing a unique, one-of-a-kind collection of the tools and ephemera of America’s kitchens. Individually and collectively, the collection pays homage and respect to the evolution of design, beauty and utility of each and every gadget used to create culinary masterpieces.

From a two-century-old, hand-held wooden juicer to an equally old English cheese grater, her collection includes an abundance of culinary ephemera as diverse as restaurant menus and matchbooks to advertisements, food pamphlets, signs and food labels – all objects that remind us of a simpler time in the world’s perpetually evolving attempts to speed up and improve food preparation.

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art will host “Kitchen Memories: The Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection” from Sept. 7 to Dec. 1, which will be joined by “Delicious Images: Art about Food Paintings and Works on Paper by Wayne Thiebaud and Joseph Goldyne.”

The Sonoma culinary community is at the top of the field of innovative, healthful and creative cuisine. “This exhibition will be both a nostalgic journey into our kitchen memories as well as an education about the excellent design of historic and contemporary culinary tools,” said Kate Eilertsen, director and chief curator for the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.

The kitchen, for many, is the heart of the home, with the gadgets hung on walls and hidden in drawers contributing to the warmth associated with this part of the house. The tools in hand and the sustenance they help provide on family tables, along with the memories of yesteryear they evoke, are represented in “The Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection,” an exhibition in which everyone can remember and reminisce about their personal scents and stories of the kitchen.

Food has always been a subject of great fascination for artists, which contemporary artists Thiebaud and Goldyne skillfully capture in “Delicious Images.” These paintings and prints will highlight the playful aspects of food. Six colorful paintings of cakes, candy and other fanciful food images by Thiebaud, will be seen alongside Goldyne’s series of “sandwich” paintings.

Complementing the exhibitions will be a series of cooking programs, films and interactive projects for people of all ages. Hill will join Elaine Corn for a discussion on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 2 p.m. and cost $15 ($12 for museum members).  “Blast From the Past Live Gadget Demos with Kathleen Hill” are set on Sept. 21, Oct. 12 and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m., and cost $12 ($10 for museum members). The family day “Everybody in the Kitchen” takes place Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $10 (free for museum members).

The “Foodie Film Series” offers a film and a chef to prepare movie themed treats. It kicks off on Sept. 26 with “Big Night,” with Lisa Lavagetto. It’s followed by “Like Water For Chocolate” on Oct. 10 with chocolatier Betty Kelly and chef Dana Jaffe. The series ends Nov. 7 with “Julie and Julia” and chefs Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze. All films start at 7 p.m., and tickets are $20 ($15 for museum members).

With more than 1,000 members, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is the largest visual arts organization in Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Solano counties. Founded in 1998, SVMA exhibits the work of local, national and international artists such as Rodin, Rivera, Goya and Picasso, to date staging more than 100 exhibitions attracting 100,000 visitors. SVMA is also the leading source of art education in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, serving more than 2,000 students annually. Its education outreach includes school tours, an annual student art exhibition, and adult art lectures and history courses.

The museum is located at 551 Broadway, one-half block south of the historic Plaza. The museum is open to the general public during exhibitions Wednesday through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for individuals, free to the public on Wednesdays, and always free to members.

For more information, go to svma.org or call 939-7862.