An Artfully Delivered Oyster Roast

September 26, 2012

Words by Amy Zurcher
Artwork by katherine sandoz
photography by Cedric Smith 

This week we were all scheming on oysters (after all, they are in season, being that January is a month with the letter “r” in it) and naturally I thought of my friend and well-known Savannah based artist Katherine Sandoz. You see, every year she and her family host a big annual oyster roast on New Year’s Eve at their little farm in Vernonburg. In a word it is magical. Twinkling lights around the tables, which are huddled with people filling up on gossip, oysters and other pot luck deliciousness. All ages of kids running and playing, starry skies, you—out in the country, crisp cool weather… you get my drift- it’s magical. Katherine and her husband Dan (aka “Horace” to her) send out charming invitations encouraging each guest to “please bring kids, dogs, in-laws, outlaws, a side dish to share and the drink/s of your choice”. She describes the process they embark on annually as something they have become quite particular about. “The most important thing, obviously, is the oysters. Our preferred are May River for the size and taste. Dan thinks cleaning the oysters’ is job number one and he spends a great deal of time and a pressure washer to do it. He’s also concerned with the pacing of the cooking; the number of oysters on the fire, when and how many come off at a time. It’s a science of sorts – an equation of how many eaters, oysters, the heat and breadth of the fire and just how hungry the guest.”

A total experience is delivered artfully, the only way an artist such as Katherine could and would do! She explains further “Donning the glove and grabbing the “right” knife, inspecting the shells and choosing, noticing the guests’ different styles of dressing the oysters – all enjoyable and standing at the table is always my favorite part. I tend to eat from the knife, no crackers for me, but dip into the cocktail sauce – the one heavy with horseradish.”

Besides being the “hostess with the mostest”, Katherine is an amazing painter who does abstracted landscapes among other things. She also makes incredible, and I do mean incredible fibers installations, drawings, photographs and witty writings galore. Shoo wee! I’m telling you this is one talented lady! When I gaze at her paintings, such as the one above titled “Oyster Bed Low Tide,” I am at once enticed with their kinetic gush of colors and shapes. I enjoy the sense of discovery that I find within them—something seemingly abstract suddenly becomes familiar to me as I begin to build realistic forms into it as seen through the lens of my own personal experiences and memories.  You can almost get lost in the ebb and flow, the movement implied in this water-based media depicting the Georgia coastline.

Several times a year, her husband takes her out on our boat to an island, marsh area or waterway she has yet to explore. This painting was inspired by her visit to Pine Island. “In addition to some choice fishing holes that my husband and boys try to keep a secret, Pine Island houses numerous oyster beds and some good size swimming holes. At falling tide, it’s high Low Country drama….crabs, appearing and disappearing mud and grasses, oyster shoals, constantly shifting mud, sand and water – all entrancing and inspiring!” If her “Oyster Bed Low” is any indication of the level of inspired creation one can expect out of a visit to Pine Island, I wonder if we shouldn’t all head out for a little inspirational visit! During an “r” month, of course.

For more about Katherine and where to purchase her work visit Katherine Sandoz or shopSCAD

Black and white photography courtesy of Cedric Smith Photography

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