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A Second Life for Food

Interface Gallery examines the relationship between food waste and hunger by letting you get your hands dirty.

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Suzanne L'Heureux, owner and curator of Interface Gallery in Temescal, got the idea for her new show, ironically, while in conversation at a silent retreat last year. Her talking partner, Oakland social entrepreneur Dana Frasz, was discussing her food philosophy — namely, how she puts food on the table for her family largely through dumpster-diving. She also told L'Heureux about Food Shift, an organization she'd recently launched that's devoted to reducing hunger by diverting usable food from the waste stream. "I was floored," said L'Heureux. "I immediately thought, 'This is a great theme for a show.'"

The eponymous exhibit, "Food Shift," opens with an event on Friday, November 2 (6-9 p.m., free), that will feature an animation on industrial farming, assorted sculptures representing cast-off food, a video on farming issues in Fresno's Westlands Water District, and food-dyed textiles. But the month-long exhibit extends well beyond opening night: L'Heureux has organized a series of six "extracurricular" events throughout November — including a film screening, a preserves-making lesson, and a fabric-dyeing workshop — in hopes of offering new ways of understanding the complex relationship between food waste and hunger. "People in the Bay are already familiar with a lot of these issues surrounding food," said L'Heureux. "I didn't want the event to be preaching to the choir, or to just be a long list of dos and don'ts. Having people participate in the exhibit in a hands-on way lets them connect more deeply with the issues."

Many of the events relate to something that L'Heureux and Frasz feel particularly passionate about: a "second life" for food. During the "Dinner to Dye For" event on Sunday, November 4 (4 p.m., $60), guests will enjoy a delicious dinner while learning from Sasha Duerr of the Permacouture Institute how to dye fabrics using food scraps from their meal, including onion skins, avocado pits, and carrot tops. On Wednesday, November 7 (6 p.m., $5-10), Interface will host a screening of dumpster-diving doc Dive! Living Off America's Waste, followed by a discussion with Frasz. And on Sunday, November 11 (1 p.m., $50), participants will learn how to make "hyper-local" preserves entirely from neighborhood-foraged fruit, courtesy of Lonna Lopez of Oakland Dry Goods. On top of picking up the ins and outs of preserve-making, guests will receive a map to local fruit-foraging sites.

"Having interactive opportunities creates a form of connection for people," said L'Heureux, who organized the exhibit's participatory events as an experiment in audience engagement. "Art like this can be really powerful as a point of entry. I want people to take home the idea that a just and sustainable food system is possible." Through December 2. Most events at Interface Gallery (486 49th St., Oakland); see website for full schedule. InterfaceArtGallery.com

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