New Documentary Examines The Life And Art Of Jim Denevan


Jim Denevan is probably best known as the mastermind of Outstanding In The Field (OTIF), bespoke culinary experiences set in farm vineyards, beaches, meadows, fishing docks, and city streets across the U.S. and beyond.

But chef Denevan is also a talented multimedia artist who creates eco-friendly, geometric sand paintings—called “land art”—that only exist for a short time before they succumb to the elements. Using a rake and stick as his tools, he creates works so perfect and symmetrical that they look engineered.

Now a new documentary, Man in the Field, tells the extraordinary story of this creative genius, an artist and chef whose background is as unique as has been the course of his life’s work.

About Outstanding in the Field

Since 1999, well before farm-to-table became an overused buzzword, Denevan came up with the idea of bringing chefs and farmers together in natural settings. He gathered food enthusiasts together to enjoy multi-course meals outdoors, served at long, elegantly set tables where people could enjoy a meal and connect with kindred spirits in a scenic setting.

The sculpture-like arrangement of the tables and careful presentation and plating of the meals resembles an art form of their own. On average, about 100 to 250 diners participate in each event, many of them culinary travelers who are “repeaters.”

Denevan launched this visionary project in Northern California, the area where he was born and raised, but took it “global” in 2011. Since its inception, dinners have been held in 18 different countries, involving more than 700 chefs in the serving of over 100,000 meals. 

By design, the experiences allow participants to rediscover the integral connection between the foods they eat and their natural sources. Like good improvisational theater, the precise menus and settings are unpredictable but always coalesce at the end to create a memorable culinary experience. 

About Man in the Field

Man in the Field is the name of the recently-released documentary film by filmmaker Patrick Trefz that tells the story of Denevan’s life and upbringing. 

His father, a machinist, died when Denevan was five years old. His mother was absent from the home, throwing herself into her work. He was one of eight brothers, three of whom were eventually diagnosed with serious mental illnesses. He says that he began his artwork when he was 15 years old and retreated to the woods to escape the violence and trauma taking place in his home, where there was virtually no parenting

After premieres in New York City and Los Angeles, Man in the FIeld is currently streaming on Apple TV, iTunes and Amazon Prime.


Speaking to Jim Denevan

Forbes.com asked Jim about his art, the new film, his travels, and thoughts about the future:

What training contributed to your artistic and culinary achievements?

Jim Denevan: I’ve always been intellectually curious about natural processes. I grew up in environments that led to questioning why, for example, the beach looked different in summer than it did in winter. Making art in that environment was realizing a passion that already existed.

My work evolved as a recognition of place and people, and an exploration of how it exists in a specific time and what can come of that. My mother was a math teacher and I was an auto-didact [self-taught person], passionate about exploring culture, and making art that had no reference to other artists. 

What aspects of your personality led you to your artistic calling?

JD: I find repetitive motions of different kinds soothing, therapeutic, like a sport of a different kind that mixes meditation and physical activity in equal measure. I can walk and think at the same time. 

When I started to draw, I had no plan or measuring device. Drawing in sand is the most natural thing to do yet no one was doing this as a primary artistic practice. 

How does OITF couple your interest in food and art?

JD:  OITF combines experience, quality and ephemerality—it’s a space where food and creativity co-exist. I wanted to bring people together in the land to connect with the elements and the produce of the earth. 

My drawings in the land exist for the same time as a dinner in the field, over a period of around 4.5 hours. With my beach drawings, I have 3-5 hours, 6 at most, but don’t have more time than that before the work is erased by the environment. 

Our dinners have a similar temporality and everything is carried away the same night – both leave no trace. 

What events have you “staged” that stand out most in your memory?

JD:  There was a dinner in 2018 where we were enveloped in clouds and visibility was almost nil, until suddenly all of Mt Fuji appeared and everyone applauded.  We enjoyed fresh soba and the best sake in the country.

Another dinner at Big Sur had guests trekking through almost dangerous conditions before the sun allowed the spectacular 360-degree view over the ocean to be revealed.

A dinner celebrating 50 Years of Food on the rooftop of the Smithsonian with a view of the Washington Monument was very memorable because OITF was recognized for having had a significant influence on the culture of food.

Did you have any apprehension about sharing the painful story of your own life? Showing warts and all?

JD:  No, I didn’t because it was up to the director, Patrick Trefz to make the choices about what to portray. 

I connected with Patrick over surf culture.  He was the staff photographer for a surfing magazine and was assigned to shoot photos to accompany a story they were writing about me.  He approached his work from an artistic perspective and was considered as kind of an oddball in his community too. 

Any thoughts about your next artistic/culinary or other endeavors?

JD:  I have a new book in the works and that’s my focus in the next few months. The conditions for drawing are best in January, February, and March and then late November when I will be in my normal places working. The book will be published mid-2022; it will be a record of my work as an artist and with OITF. 

What impact do you think the release of the film will have on you and your work?

JD:  There may be more pressure to participate intellectually and rationally with museums and cultural institutions and I embrace those ways of looking at my work in a more measured way. 

When you travel for leisure, what are your favorite destinations and why?

JD:  A surfing area at the tip of Baja on the East Cape is a place I return to often, but I am fortunate that my art takes me to interesting places and I’ve traveled all over the world.  Often while scouting new locations for OITF, I’ve remained a few days longer to draw in the sand. 

Is there any type of cuisine you favor and why?

JD:  It’s very hard to be really specific but I’ve caught a lot of waves and came to shore to enjoy delicious food in Mexico. I love food culture all around the world.


Note: This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.


Watch the trailer for Man in the Field on YouTube:





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Sooners Travel to Texas for Jim West Challenge


Oct. 17-18 / 54 Holes / San Marcos, Texas / Kissing Tree Golf Club / Live Scoring

NORMAN – The Oklahoma women’s golf team travels to Texas for the second time during their fall campaign to compete in the annual Jim West Challenge Oct. 17-18 at the Kissing Tree Golf Club – a par-72, 6,287-yard course. Competition will begin Sunday with 36 holes and conclude Monday with the final 18 holes. Both days will feature an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start and be broadcast on ESPN+.

The Sooners last competed at the Illini Invitational at Medinah Golf Club. OU was led by Meagan and Libby Winans, who each finished tied for 27th with a pair of even-par 216s. It marked the second tournament of the fall slate that M. Winans led the OU contingent. 

L. Winans is at stage-2 of LPGA Q-school and will be absent in the lineup for the first time this fall. 

Hannah Screen, Mikhaela Fortuna, Maria Fernanda Martinez and Nina Lang finish out the lineup for the Jim West Challenge. 

Screen finished third in the lineup at the Illini Invite, and tallied a 2-over 218 (T37th). She has been in the lineup for all three fall states with Fortuna and M.Winans. 

Fernanda Martinez returns to the lineup after not competing last weekend, while Lang competes in back-to-back tournaments for the Sooners after playing in the Schooner Fall Classic as an individual. 

OU LINEUP

Meagan Winans, Fr., Richardson, Texas: Made first career appearance in the Crimson and Cream at the Sam Golden Invitational … Finished tied with Screen at the Sam Golden with a 1-under 216 … Led the OU lineup at the Schooner Fall Classic, finishing with a 4-over 214 to finish tied for 22nd … Tied with sister, Libby Winans, for the team lead at the Illini Invitational … Sister, Libby, is a senior on the OU women’s golf team. 

Hannah Screen, Sr., London, U.K.: Two NCAA Regional appearances (2021 at Columba, 2019 at Auburn) … In second season with the Sooner after transferring from Houston where she was All-AAC and led the Cougars to an AAC title … 71.70 scoring average would be lowest in program history … Led Sooners at five tournaments in 2020-21, including T4 at Big 12 Championship … 2021 All-Big 12 honoree … 2021 All-American honorable mention.

Mikhaela Fortuna, Sr., Manila, Philippines:  Two NCAA Regional appearances (2021 at Columbus, 2019 in Norman) …  Second-lowest scoring average (72.85) in OU history … Played in four events for the Sooners in the spring of 2021 after sitting out fall season … Posted T12 finish at the Big 12 Championship and was in second after the first round … Six of her nine rounds in 2021 are par or better … Career-best finish is T7, accomplished three times … 3-0 at Big 12 match play in 2021 … Second-lowest single-season scoring average (71.90) in OU history as a sophomore … Led OU at the 2021 Sam Golden Invitational, firing off rounds of 70-68-69 for a 9-under 207.

Maria Fernanda Martinez, R-Jr., Veracruz, Mexico: First appearance at an NCAA Regional in 2021 in Columbus, Ohio … Career scoring average of 74.34 is 12th-lowest in OU history … Tied career-best finish of T19 at the Big 12 Championship, posting back-to-back 70s to close the tournament … Advanced to round of 32 at the USGA Women’s Am Four Ball with sister Maria Jose, who plays at Houston … Made two appearances in the OU lineup this season … Tallied a career-low 68 at the Sam Golden Invitational.

Nina Lang, So., Ingoldtadt, Germany: Competed at Baylor in 2020-21 .. Finished inside the top-20 in three of her four events with the Lady Bears … First appearance in the OU lineup was at the Illini Invitational … Competed as an individual at Schooner Fall Classic, finishing tied for 27th. 

THE FIELD

No. 2 Oklahoma State 

No. 14 Texas A&M

No. 16 Florida State

No. 22 TCU

No. 24 Texas Tech

No. 30 (RV) Oklahoma

No. 34 (RV) Miami

Houston

Kent State

Missouri

New Mexico

Tennessee

Texas State

Tulsa

UNLV

THE COURSE

All three rounds will be played at Kissing Tree Golf Club (par-72, 6,287 yard course).

FORMAT

Fifty-four holes will be played over two days with 36 holes being played Sunday, Oct. 17 and the final 18 on Monday, Oct. 18. Both rounds are an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. 

BROADCAST

The tournament will be streamed on ESPN+ with Sunday’s broadcast starting at 11 a.m. and Monday’s beginning at 8:30 a.m.

LIVE STATS

Live scoring and final results will be posted on GolfStat.com. A full recap will be posted on SoonerSports.com following the completion of rounds each day.





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Traveling Exhibit on Puppeteer Jim Henson Coming to Michigan | Michigan News


DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A traveling exhibit about the legendary puppeteer Jim Henson is coming to Michigan starting next month.

The exhibit called “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited” will open at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn from June 5 to September 6.

The interactive display will delve into his work on “The Muppets,” “Sesame Street,” “Fraggle Rock,” and “Labyrinth.” It’ll feature puppets, scripts, storyboard and costumes. Henson died in 1990.

“This exhibition explores Henson’s unique contributions to the moving image, and how he and a talented team of designers, performers, and writers created an unparalleled body of work that continues to delight and inspire people of all ages,” said a news release from the museum.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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