The Slideluck Potshow serves up its first appearance in Ann Arbor tonight. As founder Casey Kelbaugh put it over the phone – naturally as he made squid ink penne with zucchini, lemon and arugula at the same time – “It is a desire to bring people together through food and art.”

To participate in the show, artists submit up to five minutes of slides to be projected after a meal, usually a potluck. Photojournalists, painters, graphic designers and sculptors join the ranks of students and other amateurs in the Slideluck.

“Very few events cross-pollinate that way,” Slideluck’s producer Alys Kenny said.

Added Kelbaugh, who is also a New York City photographer: “Real rock stars of the art world are showing work alongside the lawyers and students that have never displayed. It’s very egalitarian in that way – everyone has the same five minutes.”

Seven years ago in Kelbaugh’s Seattle backyard, he, Kenney and a small crowd of 50 created Slideluck. The night sparked a tradition that would spread worldwide to cities such as Barcelona, Tokyo, London, New York and now Ann Arbor.

But each city brings with it an inherently different Slideluck.

“We don’t want the show in Ann Arbor to feel like New York City. We try to show artists that are working in a community for that community,” Kelbaugh said, adding that the frequent Oregon Slidelucks are packed with images of rock climbing, ski-trips and vegan casserole. (For his part, he recommends the Cherry Clafuti and Ants on a Log recipes from the Slideluck website.)

The event gives artists the chance to take risks with their material. Kelbaugh gave the example of one photographer who has built a career on photographing glassware but who also likes to shoot fire dancing and ballet.

“The event satisfies a completely different side of your personality, show us the stuff you are excited by, the little darlings that don’t get to be aired,” he said.

Depending on tonight’s response, the event could happen two or three times a year. And though there are modifications for this first round (the meal is being catered instead of pot-lucked, but pre-packed desserts are encouraged), it’s a chance for artists to get their work out and see what other artists are doing as well.

“It’s one thing to click through work on a website, but it’s another thing to be sitting in a room with 500 people experiencing it together,” Kelbaugh said. “(The Slideluck) is not the kind of thing that people breeze in and breeze out of. People are committed.”

Slideluck Potshow

At the Michigan Theater

Today, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.


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