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Dinner at the museum: Real meal on fine ceramics in Philadephia

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows artist Gregg Moore, left, and chef  Pierre Calmels at a table set with Moore’s fine ceramic pottery for a show called “Heirloom,”  in Philadelphia. Calmels serves a seven-course, $150 dinner called “Table d’Hote” at the museum using Moore’s pottery. Moore says the art, which is  part of a movement called social practice art, is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and the people sharing the meal.  (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance, Sarah Archer)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows artist Gregg Moore, left, and chef Pierre Calmels at a table set with Moore’s fine ceramic pottery for a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Calmels serves a seven-course, $150 dinner called “Table d’Hote” at the museum using Moore’s pottery. Moore says the art, which is part of a movement called social practice art, is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and the people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance, Sarah Archer)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows diners eating a $150, seven-course meal called “Table d’Hote” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The meal, created by chef Pierre Calmels, is served on fine ceramic pottery created by artist Gregg Moore. Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. Visitors can also see the table set with Moore’s pottery in a show at the museum called “Heirloom.” (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows diners eating a $150, seven-course meal called “Table d’Hote” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The meal, created by chef Pierre Calmels, is served on fine ceramic pottery created by artist Gregg Moore. Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. Visitors can also see the table set with Moore’s pottery in a show at the museum called “Heirloom.” (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows diners eating a $150, seven-course meal called “Table d’Hote” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The meal, created by chef Pierre Calmels, is served on fine ceramic pottery created by artist Gregg Moore. Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. Visitors can also see the table set with Moore’s pottery in a show at the museum called “Heirloom.” (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows diners eating a $150, seven-course meal called “Table d’Hote” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The meal, created by chef Pierre Calmels, is served on fine ceramic pottery created by artist Gregg Moore. Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. Visitors can also see the table set with Moore’s pottery in a show at the museum called “Heirloom.” (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows a porcelain cherry basket created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows a porcelain cherry basket created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows a porcelain cherry basket created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows a porcelain cherry basket created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

  • This 2014 photo shows a vase on display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, created by artist Gregg Moore and part of a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Eileen Glanton)

    This 2014 photo shows a vase on display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, created by artist Gregg Moore and part of a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Eileen Glanton)

  • This 2014 photo shows a vase on display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, created by artist Gregg Moore and part of a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Eileen Glanton)

    This 2014 photo shows a vase on display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, created by artist Gregg Moore and part of a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Eileen Glanton)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows four plates created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom.” Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a nightly seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows four plates created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom.” Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a nightly seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows four plates created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom.” Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a nightly seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows four plates created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom.” Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a nightly seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows artist Gregg Moore, left, and chef  Pierre Calmels at a table set with Moore’s fine ceramic pottery for a show called “Heirloom,”  in Philadelphia. Calmels serves a seven-course, $150 dinner called “Table d’Hote” at the museum using Moore’s pottery. Moore says the art, which is  part of a movement called social practice art, is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and the people sharing the meal.  (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance, Sarah Archer)

    This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows artist Gregg Moore, left, and chef Pierre Calmels at a table set with Moore’s fine ceramic pottery for a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Calmels serves a seven-course, $150 dinner called “Table d’Hote” at the museum using Moore’s pottery. Moore says the art, which is part of a movement called social practice art, is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and the people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance, Sarah Archer)

  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows artist Gregg Moore, left, and chef  Pierre Calmels at a table set with Moore’s fine ceramic pottery for a show called “Heirloom,”  in Philadelphia. Calmels serves a seven-course, $150 dinner called “Table d’Hote” at the museum using Moore’s pottery. Moore says the art, which is  part of a movement called social practice art, is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and the people sharing the meal.  (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance, Sarah Archer)
  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows diners eating a $150, seven-course meal called “Table d’Hote” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The meal, created by chef Pierre Calmels, is served on fine ceramic pottery created by artist Gregg Moore. Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. Visitors can also see the table set with Moore’s pottery in a show at the museum called “Heirloom.” (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)
  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows diners eating a $150, seven-course meal called “Table d’Hote” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The meal, created by chef Pierre Calmels, is served on fine ceramic pottery created by artist Gregg Moore. Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. Visitors can also see the table set with Moore’s pottery in a show at the museum called “Heirloom.” (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)
  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows a porcelain cherry basket created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)
  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows a porcelain cherry basket created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)
  • This 2014 photo shows a vase on display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, created by artist Gregg Moore and part of a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Eileen Glanton)
  • This 2014 photo shows a vase on display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, created by artist Gregg Moore and part of a show called “Heirloom,” in Philadelphia. Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Eileen Glanton)
  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows four plates created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom.” Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a nightly seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)
  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows four plates created by artist Gregg Moore on display at the museum in a show called “Heirloom.” Moore’s fine ceramic pottery is used in a nightly seven-course, $150 dinner served at the museum and created by chef Pierre Calmels, called “Table d’Hote.” Moore says the art _ part of a movement called social practice art _ is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and people sharing the meal. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance)
  • This 2014 photo provided by the Philadelphia Art Alliance shows artist Gregg Moore, left, and chef  Pierre Calmels at a table set with Moore’s fine ceramic pottery for a show called “Heirloom,”  in Philadelphia. Calmels serves a seven-course, $150 dinner called “Table d’Hote” at the museum using Moore’s pottery. Moore says the art, which is  part of a movement called social practice art, is created by the experience of the food, ceramics, museum space and the people sharing the meal.  (AP Photo/Philadelphia Art Alliance, Sarah Archer)

Five nights a week at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, 16 people sit down to dinner. But they’re not at a museum cafe. They’re in the exhibit space, at a long pine farmhouse table set all day long with platters, bowls and vases made by a ceramic artist.

The seven-course meal, which costs $150 a person, was created to showcase pottery by artist Gregg Moore, and the meal has drawn rave reviews from foodies. But in Moore’s view, the food isn’t art. Neither is his pottery, no matter how attractive one finds his delicate renderings of fruits and vegetables on the handmade platters.

The art, Moore said, is created by the experience: the food, ceramics, museum space and people who dine there together.

“The people who are eating are works of sculpture, and the piece isn’t complete until the people are sharing this meal together,” Moore said.

Moore’s exhibit, titled “Heirloom,” and the nightly dinner, called “Table d’Hote,” are part of a movement known as social practice art. Social practice art seeks to bridge the gap between everyday experiences and traditional concepts of art. It’s also designed to draw in people who might otherwise be unlikely to visit a traditional art museum.

“It’s about breaking down any sense of elitism and making people see that art is for them,” said Jen Delos Reyes, an artist and faculty member in Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice Program, in Oregon. “Artists can operate in ways that don’t involve the studio-gallery paradigm.”

As part of a Portland social practice program called Shine a Light, local brewers toured the Portland Art Museum, and they then developed beers inspired by the collection, including “The Drunken Cobbler,” an 18th-century painting by Jean Baptiste Greuze. Another evening, museum-goers got tarot card readings from a deck designed to showcase the museum’s paintings and sculptures.

Delos Reyes said interactive elements help “create a relationship between artists’ creative skills and engaging the viewer physically.”

In Detroit, an artist created a full-scale replica of his childhood home, with the intention that it be used for social services. The home has a detachable facade known as the Mobile Homestead. After a summer stint in Los Angeles, it will return to Detroit and serve as a mobile lending library in communities where libraries have been shuttered.

For the Philadelphia dinner, rabbit stew is cooked in a cassoulet pot Moore crafted for the chef, Pierre Calmels. To showcase Calmels’ salt-crusted branzino, Moore also designed a fish platter that allows servers to easily filet the fish tableside. And Moore’s signature creations – pale blue porcelain berry baskets – become the vehicle for fresh berry clafouti, a custardlike dessert cake.

What happens if one of the dishes breaks? So far, none has, but museum spokeswoman Melissa Caldwell says the artist recognizes “the potential for damage.”

Social practice art can involve many fields, including music, drama, and culinary arts, as well as social issues like hunger relief and literacy. The interdisciplinary approach allows artists to weave in various aspects of their lives and interests. Moore, for example, is a passionate gardener, and the work he created in Philadelphia depicts produce from his own garden as well as drawings from an 18th-century French agricultural text.

Artists have varying opinions about which interpretations and settings still constitute art.

“I think that art is subjective and dynamic. It’s a matter of intention,” said Harrell Fletcher, an artist and director of the art and social practice program at Portland State University. “An artist can decide to locate the art part of the project anywhere they want, or the location can be part of the art.”

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