Designers set fantastic tables for Seacoast fundraiserBy ROB LEVEY
Special to the Union Leader October 27. 2014 10:25PM
PORTSMOUTH -- Setting the table could be seen as a chore, but for some of New England’s top designers, it is an art form at Tablescapes, a recurring fundraising event to benefit Arts in Reach.
According to Tablescapes creator Darcy Horgan, table designers are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild, which in past shows has led to table themes ranging from “Bed and Breakfast” to “Parisian Romance.”
“The designers don’t have to cater to a client’s wishes or budget,” she added. “Instead, they are free to realize their own vision. It’s amazing what emerges on a tabletop when that spirit is encouraged and released.”
Laura Malloy, principal at Malloy Interiors in Portsmouth, said she was equally attracted to the mission of the event’s nonprofit beneficiary, Arts in Reach, which is “to empower teenage girls through mentoring and the arts.”
“I was the same age as many of these girls when a teacher and mentor said I was good at my craft and encouraged me to develop my art and design talent,” she said. “That teacher and the sense of achievement and empowerment she provided helped me realize I could do it and is the reason I have my own design business today.”
Malloy said she has incorporated the mission and spirit of Arts in Reach into her table theme, “Be.”
“Encouraging everyone—but especially young girls—to achieve and reach their full potential is represented at each place setting with the theme of Be,” she said. “Our place settings and decorations represent the basic features found in nature that are used to help relax, contemplate, and consider the endless possibilities within each of us.”
Tablescapes, taking place Nov. 7-9, will also feature hands-on workshops led by food, wine and design experts. The weekend’s first workshop is “Festive Holiday Table: Chocolate Christmas Trees & Hammered Tin Sugar Skulls” and will be led by cookbook author and pastry chef Erin Gardner and Ellen Foord, contributor to DIY Network & HGTV.
“At our workshop, we’ll explain how you can make something beautiful that tastes equally delicious,” said Gardner. “You can elevate something but not sacrifice flavor along the way.”
According to Horgan, Sunday’s lineup of workshops is “a foodie’s dream” with James Haller, chef and owner of the former Blue Strawbery Restaurant, reading from his latest book. Local celebrity chef Evan Hennessey will facilitate “Nature + Technique: Cooking From Within an Arm’s Reach,” followed by “a chocolate lover’s tasting delight” with Susan Tuveson and beer tasting with David Adams of Granite State Growler Tours.
“You can reminisce, learn the latest cooking techniques, spend an hour savoring chocolate and finish it off with a craft beer—what could be more fun than that?” Horgan said.
According to Arts in Reach Executive Director Mary-Jo Monusky, what distinguishes Tablescapes from other design events is how it harnesses creativity to help transform the lives of teenage girls. She noted funding from past events enabled girls to record a 30-second radio commercial for Arts in Reach and visit a recording studio to produce a CD of their own original work.
“These opportunities provide experiences that these teens would simply not be able to have otherwise,” she said. “Arts in Reach is about bringing that light to our teens so they may shine in an environment where it is safe to try new things and take on new challenges—Tablescapes helps make that possible.”
Returning table designer Anna Hardy of In-Home in Exeter, who noted her design is based on fantasy and mystical woodlands, said Tablescapes also makes something else possible.
“People can expect to have a darn good weekend,” she said.
Daily tickets are $18 or $12 for seniors and students. A weekend pass is $32, and the Friday opening party is $50. For more information, or to purchase tickets online, go to www.airnh.org/tablescapes.