Pensacola’s Seafood Fest is a bustling outdoor food carnival which attracts people by the thousands. Cooks in tents and food trailers hawk their seafood dishes – mullet, crab, shrimp, paella, crayfish, catfish, grouper and an occasional pot of jambalaya. Alongside the chefs, dozens of craftsmen, artists and catalog-gypsies showcase their goods.
With no gumbo in sight, I feasted on shrimp and grits that brought back memories of a South Carolina trip. I moved on to the crafts – from rocking chairs to custom knives to beer coozies to jewelry. An eighteen-wheeler had unfolded itself exposing racks and rows of bass fishing t-shirts.
My son pointed to the engraved wood paintings of artist Tony Krysinsky, and I stopped to marvel at his intricate, yet carefree work entitled “Gumbo Dance.”
In the piece, a chef, seen only from his back, juggles ingredients for gumbo. I envision his hips (or is it a her?) sashaying to the rhythms of bell pepper and garlic spinning in midair. Krysinsky depicts making gumbo like directing a Broadway performance – no music needed as the chef directs the ingredients. My imagination soars and I see myself chopping the ingredients to a cha, cha, then two-stepping to the tempo of a waltz when stirring the roux. The dish then heats up with a boiling salsa, and finally simmers to a tango.
I like to dance around the kitchen every now and then. Doing a “bam” impersonation of Chef Emerill Lagasse and kicking it up a notch is liberating. Of course a real chef, more like the one in the artwork, stretches the ingredients to all limits, tries a new routine, a different number, then presents his final creation to an appreciative audience.
Krysinsky’s engraved wood painting elevates the dish – as they say on the cooking shows. The artist adds the color of the flavors.
I tried to capture the flavor of gumbo with art years ago when I made a wooden plaque for my grandmother’s kitchen. When she died, my primitive piece came back to live with me.
I’d much rather own Tony Krysinsky’s “Gumbo Dance” — I could dance around the kitchen all day long, finding interesting ideas in his art.
To see Tony Krysinsky’s wood engraved paintings visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tony-Krysinsky-Artist/147838691913551