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An Evening of Food and Art at Fargo House on Saturday, May 17

Chef Colleen Stillwell and (behind the book) artist Dennis Maher in Maher's house. (photo by Ginny Stewart)

Eat a House

What happens when an individual enters a house unlike any other for a meal that further challenges the senses?

CS1 Curatorial Projects invites the public into an experiential moment with a curator, an artist, and a chef. “Fargo City-Table-House Repast” is an opportunity to discover the aroma and taste of foods prepared to parallel the ambiance of the Parlor Play Room, Bridge Room, Library, and Wardrobe Room. The spectator is transformed into a participant in the creative process during a collaborative progressive dinner orchestrated by Claire Schneider in the unique home environment of Dennis Maher.

A defining feature of Fargo House is a continual reorganization of the materials within. Participants will echo this movement as they cycle through the rooms while stopping to enjoy the culinary delights of Chef Colleen Stillwell. Art triggers experience as experience triggers art. Consume it all.

Schneider is a former curator at Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Gallery. Upon returning to Buffalo, she began CS1 Curatorial Projects to facilitate collaborative creative art projects in unexpected spaces. She introduced the endeavor last summer by partnering with Chris Barr at Echo Fair. “Meaningful Offerings” invited fairgoers to trade their talents and services for art.

The image of the solitary genius is eroding as the collaborative spirit of environmental art is seeping into the consciousness of politics, business, economics, and the arts. Creative insight is viewed more and more as a shared human capacity rather than a divine gift. Contemporary artists are co-creators. Schneider’s curatorial projects expand the vision of how we experience art in our time.

Stillwell also returned to Buffalo after gathering skills elsewhere. She is back to launch the Culinary Institute of Niagara Falls after training at the Culinary Institute in Napa, California and working with renowned chefs in Manhattan. The two women joined with poet Lynne McCabe last fall to re-imagine Buffalo’s Irish and industrial history in a farm-to-table presentation of food and text called “Eat Your Hearts Out.”

“It’s all about relationships,” Schneider says of her curatorial work. Maher uses similar words to describe his own art process with materials and objects. Public artist Theaster Gates refers to “the poetics of repurposed and salvaged materials,” a genre of art practice that thrives in a world that fervently consumes, trades, and discards. Maher’s poetry transcends preservation and renovation. He is a master of accumulation and manipulation of matter—creating new relationships between elements. The monochromatic teal house nestled on a nondescript block of modest homes on the West Side of Buffalo does not hint at the complex space within. During the last five years, he has excavated and rebuilt the conventional interior structure into a living work of art that is continually making and unmaking itself— always on the brink of becoming. The walls and floors of Fargo House have been altered to allow light to capture the layers of communication. The space features ironwork, hinged structures, a dreamlike world of miniatures, and micro-architectural objects. He combs local flea markets and thrift stores for the globes, statues, mirrors, toys, boxes, books, dollhouses, cages, mantles, and columns of his textural surfaces. His interest in entropy and the instability of objects is reinforced through an ongoing process of addition and subtraction of materials. Sections of wall and ceiling are peeled away to reveal patterned papers, and earlier hues of paint—past and present collide. The ground floor art gallery is designed as a giant cabinet, complete with a wall of hinged plywood portals, opening to the window light, as needed.

The process of regeneration and renewal will soon extend into another property recently acquired to nurture the city’s collective imagination. Assembly House 150 will become a living laboratory for artistic and architectural experimentation to be called “A Center for the Urban Imaginary.

The Fargo House Dinner on May 17 promises another rare chance to share in the emerging culture of food as art. Chef Stillwell is crafting a nine-course meal of surprise edibles to be consumed in nine different atmospheres within Maher’s architectural oasis. The evening is limited to 50 ticketholders. Wine will be provided by Georgetown Square Wine and Liquor, with Paula Paradise as sommelier. Assigned start times will allow small groups to move through the house in a staggered fashion to eliminate crowding.

This movable feast is full of imaginative possibility—a rewarding adventure of the senses not to miss.

Tickets for the Fargo Dinner are available at Find the “Fargo City-Table-House Repast” page on Facebook or email Learn more about Fargo House at

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