Outstanding in the Field

If you’ve never heard of the artist Jim Denevan or Outstanding in the Field, I highly recommend you do some exploring on the internet and see what there is to see.  I would start by trying to take in his incredible sand sculptures.  Jim’s drawings are astonishing from any angle, but they are done on such a large scale that you need an aerial view to take them in fully.  I particularly like contemplating this series of images because they feel outside of time and space; the earth is the canvas, and yet there is something extraterrestrial about these drawings.

In more recent years, he has applied his creative vision to a series of farm dinners known as Outstanding in the Field.  As Howie Kahn says in his beautifully written profile of Denevan, “he brings tables to places you only dream there could be tables.”   The intentions behind these events are dear to my heart for the way they help reconnect people with agriculture and recover simple pleasures that have been lost to most people who live in cities and suburbs.  But beyond the cultural significance, these dinners are works of art in themselves.  It’s really difficult to put into words the feelings that come from witnessing something like this.  Maybe because our modern, industrialized culture so rarely honors places in such a humble way – we erect skyscrapers, highways, monuments, and all manner of expansive structures and infrastructures that celebrate our technological achievements and make marvels possible.  On the other hand, these farm dinners, this kind of event – well, in my opinion, they are another kind of cultural activity entirely.

I feel lucky to have been able to attend the first Outstanding in the Field in Oklahoma, which took place at Crestview Farms in Edmond in late October.  I was too busy serving up the delicious menu the guys at Ludivine put together to take many pictures, but I did snap a few photos on my trusty Rolleicord.

To top it all off, I got to hang with the incredible people that put this on after it was all over.  You can read about their adventures on the Outstanding in the Field blog.  Just found out they’re coming back to Oklahoma again next October.  We are some lucky folks!