Pour an artist a cocktail to “stir the creative juices,” then hand over a Sharpie and a napkin. What doodle will result? We find out in this just-for-fun Friday series.
The Cocktail: The Basil Rathbone, bourbon, ginger liqueur and Fever-Tree ginger ale, garnished with bruised fresh basil, by Gabe Kveton at Water Street Café
The Artist: Tom Reed, painter, master printer and senior lecturer at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Originally from Iowa City, Reed married a St. Louis native and has settled here so thoroughly that he just built a chicken coop in his Maplewood backyard.
His artwork’s imagery includes stylized rustic features like tree stumps, teepees, frost flowers and totem poles. In a recent show at the Contemporary Art Museum, he exhibited five paintings, one of which has the old world, melodramatic feel of a traveling panorama. Based on an 1827 Niagara Falls publicity stunt, it tells the tale of the schooner Michigan, a rickety wooden boat which was sent over the precipice crewed by wild animals like buffalo, bears and foxes. Most of his paintings begin on pages torn out of coloring books, word finds and jumbles because for Reed, a blank canvas is too inscrutable to engage; he likes to start his work with a dialogue.
In his role as master printer, Reed works with visiting artists at Island Press, which takes its name from an oversized, 60" wide x 120" long “island” of an etching press. Under the guidance of Reed and the Sam Fox School faculty, these visiting artists work in energetic collaboration with students, who gain insight into the technical challenges involved in turning concept into reality. Reed has a ton of photos packed into his iPod showing works by artists like Atlanta-based Radcliffe Bailey, who started with an old tintype of a top-hatted man as the base image for multiple variations of an artistic vision rendered into different printed forms like etchings, intaglio engravings and more.
What made you order the Basil Rathbone?
R: I liked the name, and the ingredients seemed like an intriguing combination. It’s so tasty, like a summery Manhattan.
What sort of restaurants do you like here in St. Louis?
R: Lately, my wife Amy and I really like coming here to Water Street. Franco is another one of our favorites. For breakfast or late nights you can’t beat the Courtesy Diner. When we want great burgers, we head for the Piccadilly, which is just a few blocks over from us on a residential street.
What kind of food do you eat at home?
R: We try to cook every night, then sit down as a family and have dinner together. We’re big on pasta and fish. My specialty is vegetarian tacos: spicy tomatoes and rice stuffed into corn tortillas, then pan-fried and served with guacamole. My eldest daughter Charlotte is a vegetarian, so those work for her. We have meatless meal nights, but I really love smoking meat. I just made some pork ribs the other night that were fantastic. I always do a drive rub first, then smoke them slowly over the course of four hours or so. I learned how to do that here, not in Iowa, from a guy named Dan Gualdoni. He’s an amazing painter and has taught me so much about wine and food. He’s the original owner of Bar Italia. In January, he took us mushrooming out on the confluence. We harvested baskets full of oyster mushrooms the size of hamburger buns off of dead black willow trees. Those became the star ingredient in the most incredible wild mushroom and radicchio lasagna. The recipe came out of Cooking Light, which my mom has given us a subscription to forever.
Water Street, 7268 Manchester Road, Maplewood, waterstreetstl.com
Check back next Friday for more Booze Doodles by St. Louis artists!