Italian Art, Southern Style

“For me, sculpture is not only a passion, a vocation, but a way to approach life, to externalize anguish, passion and hope – that which time gifts to every man.” -Giavonni Balderi
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is a wonderful museum and a must see whenever in the Alabama capital city. Traveling exhibitions frequent the museum and one such exhibition that should not be missed features the sculpture of Giavonni Balderi, the famed Italian sculptor known for his exquisite marble pieces.

When a couple of my dearest friends and clients in Montgomery asked to host Giavonni for a dinner party, this Farmer was more than thrilled when invited to be a part. A menu of Southern classics with autumnal nods, flowers heralding the season, and an all-star guest list of some of Montgomery’s best architectural, theatrical, legal, and design talent were assembled… not to mention the host and hostess – a couple who are fabulous in their own right! What a glorious night!

In the host’s beautiful home on one of Montgomery’s fairest avenues, the color scheme for the party’s flowers was inspired by the brocade, tapestry-esque fabric of the host and hostess chairs. Deep corals, luscious lavenders, salmons and golds all intermingle in a marvelous pattern. Sumatra lilies, orange orchids, pomegranates, artichokes, and rusty backed magnolia leaves along with croton leaf accents filled the table’s center and set the stage for the evening. Bundles of wheat, lotus pods, and “petit chou” or baby cabbages were added to the autumn tableau, thus, forming a riot of color, texture, and perfume - de rigueur for the night.

The table was set with heirloom silver and china and mixed with gorgeous goblets of silver and Murano glass. Monogrammed linens, named place cards, and a menu at each place setting sealed the night’s cordiality with Southern grace. As honored as this Farmer was to be a guest, I still had to get going in the kitchen to provide the party with the evening’s sustenance. With the help of my Montgomery Mama’s as sous chefs, we put together an elegant array of Southern favorites to welcome our new Italian friends and then dressed for the party! What fun!

Braised lamb chops, roasted root vegetables, a West Indies seafood salad, and cheese tray complete with honey and pecans were a few of the highlights. My Apple Tart (recipe coming soon) with pears and roasted pecans and walnuts and vanilla crème fraiche ended the evening on a sweet note. The lively conversation and saluts continued and the dinner party was deemed a success. With the perfect setting, flowers, food, hosts and of course, perfect crowd, a night to celebrate art in Southern fashion was truly a delight. Giavonni’s words capture his work marvelously and I could not agree more; and from this Farmer’s table (or friends table), I wish you the best in your entertaining endeavors whether you’re celebrating art, the season, or just time with friends and family. Salut!