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The little things we do have big impacts. K.J.

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We can’t believe it’s already mid-December.

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Arlene Wanda Nelson, 77, died Dec. 11, 2018, in Ketchikan. She was born Arlene Wanda Charles on Oct. 29, 1941, in Ketchikan.
10/6/2018
Leventhal blends ceramics and culinary art
Ceramicist and chef Robin Leventhal stands for a portrait on Thursday during setup for her exhibit, “The Cultivated Table‚“ at the Main Street Gallery. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek


By DANELLE LANDIS
Daily News Staff Writer

Artist and chef Robin Leventhal wants to connect with people through her sea-inspired, sculptural ceramics work and her culinary craft at her October Main Street Gallery exhibition titled “The Cultivated Table.”

The opening, which was scheduled for the first Friday of the month, promised a presentation by Leventhal as well as an oyster tasting, utilizing serving pieces she created.

“I’d been marinating on these ideas for a long time,” she said of her work.

After graduation with a master’s degree in fine arts, Leventhal said she took a job in catering, leading to a career as a chef and also as a restaurant owner for six years. She said she was attracted to food service, as, unlike art, which seemed like a luxury item, food is essential.

“I love the creative process behind food,” Leventhal said, as she can connect with people on a primal level: their bellies and their minds, too.

“I’m unifying my two passions,” she said.

Her ocean-inspired themes, she explained, are born from the fact that she always has been attracted to the sea — she pointed out that her horoscope sign is Pisces, after all. Growing up, she was “raised on fish,” she said.

Leventhal said she loves the forms of the ocean, the “sensuality of iconography.” She added, “my lines really evoke the feminine form.”

Leventhal lives in Walla Walla, Washington now, and sees the Palouse hills there echoing those same “womanly,” undulating forms that she said “feel like a big hug.”

Making her ceramics pieces is “a very organic process,” she said. “I am responsive to what the clay is telling me to do.”

She explained that she must respond to the clay she has in her hands, as each batch has its own unique character. The moisture content, its thickness and temperature all require different treatments.

“But me putting my intention through, without getting disappointed if it doesn’t do what I want,” is important, she explained. “Following my instinct and trusting my hands” is critical to her process.

Along with creating her art, Leventhal teaches at the One Country Culinary Institute in Walla Walla. She said she learned her own culinary skills “in the kitchens of the people I worked under.”

The work she is showcasing in the Main Street Gallery show are all hand-built items, using a pinch pot or slab process, she said. The collection includes “organic little pods,” that she said can be used as salt cellars or to hold little plants, and platters that are perfect for serving seafood on, but that could be utilized for any purpose.

Leventhal, who grew up in Idaho fishing and harvesting plants from the wild, said she always felt a pull to Alaska.

“Alaska has been a place I’ve been captivated by since I was a kid,” she said.

This will be her first visit to the state, and she will be in Ketchikan from Thursday morning through Sunday.

Leventhal’s show will be on display at the Main Street Gallery, at 330 Main Street, through Oct. 26. For more information, contact the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council at info@ketchikanarts.org.