Oh, how lucky we feel at the Harlem Arts Salon to have the inimitable Mildred Howard as our guest chef at our Sunday, March 25th salon featuring Trinidadian novelists, Earl Lovelace and Elizabeth Nunez.

Mildred will try anything. That is, anything that involves stretching the limits of the imagination. She’s GOT to be the hardest working woman in the art business. She should be awarded a MacArthur Genius Award for her prodigious output of installations, paintings, glass houses, mixed media sculptures, and prints.

So it’s not surprising this super duper artist extends her creative energies towards food, preparation and presentation receiving equal attention. Among her long list of chef credits is her stint as interim executive chef at Alice Waters’ (founder of the five-star restaurant, Chez Panisse) Edible Schoolyard.

Come Sunday. The food’s going to be yum yum. Mildred’s shipping the sweetest, ripest California oranges for a mouth-watering orange & olive salad. She tells me she’s sending five different varieties! AND a box of Haas avocados that I remember as wonderfully mellow, rich and creamy for guacamole. There’ll be black bean chili and home-made vegetarian tamales.

Our relationship with Mildred goes way back to our days in lovely La Jolla, sunny San Diego. Hers was among the most successful exhibitions mounted at Porter Troupe Gallery. Howard, who lives in Berkeley, California, probably has more site-specific, public art sculptures in San Francisco than any other living artist! (at least I can’t think of any other). Mildred Howard will join in a panel on Friday night, March 23, at the NYU Black Renaissance Noire magazine release party, where she’ll give a slide presentation about her works. In case you didn’t know, Quincy Troupe is BRN’s editor.

As for trying anything, here are a few of Howard’s recent projects:

Photo courtesy Mildred Howard

Her solo exhibition Parenthetically, It’s Only a Figure of Speech, consists of fifty-two oversized red and black glass punctuation marks that spanned five walls at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA. Parenthetically Speaking: It’s Only a Figure of Speech is is a new collection of work by Mildred Howard comprising more than 40 glass punctuation marks, proofreading symbols and musical notes inspired by At the End, a poem by Quincy Troupe. Both the poem and the exhibition reference punctuation as a metaphor for the passage of time.

Howard’s Blackbird in a Red Sky (a.k.a. Fall of the Blood House) was one of the outdoor art installations displayed on the Mezzanine Plaza at the Museum of Glass inaugural opening in 2002. The piece consisted of a house made of red glass panes set alongside dozens of red glass apples floating in the reflecting pool.

Image credits: Mildred Howard (American, born 1945), Punctucation Marks (Exclamation Point, Curly Brackets, Semicolon), 2011. Blown glass, 36 x 16 x 10, 30 x 10 x 7 and 12 x 7 x5 inches, courtesy of the artist and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA. Photos by Duncan Price.

In 2011 she completed and installed three large works and is in the process of completing four major public art works. At the Palo Alto City Hall, she has installed a phenomenal piece called Clear Story, inspired by the architect Joseph Eichler and comprised of 97,000 bottles in varying in sizes. About 94,000 of them range in sizes from 3/4 inch to one inch. Imagine counting all them bottles! It’ll be there through May 2012.

Clear Story

Clear Story. Courtesy Mildred Howard

The House that Cannot Be in Color But Its Own, 2011 is a permanent piece at the Sacramento International Airport. The title for the piece came from one of Mary Jo Bang‘s poems. The house is made of purple glass and fragments of mirrored glass that reflects the scaled up parts of bits of personal letters written during the California Gold Rush days.

The House that Will Not Pass for Any Color than It\’s Own, 2011. Courtesy the artist.

By 2014 three other major public art works will be mounted at the San Francisco General Hospital, two 12’ x 40’ faceted Corten steel pieces at the Richmond Bay Area Rapid Transit where a poem by Ishmael Reed will weave in and out of the structure and a 16’x16’ empty Rococo Frame (I think this is my favorite piece, at least today it is!) will sit atop of Hunters Point Hill in San Francisco.

Mildred Howard Roccoco frame

Roccoco Frame. Courtesy Mildred Howard

Finally, Howard has twenty two-dimensional works completed in February 2012 at Sharks Ink in Lyons, Colorado, that will be featured at the 2012 Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair (April 28-29) that travels to New York and later to the San Francisco Art Fair. This is the description on the BMA website “For one weekend every two years, more than 20 presses, printers, and dealers convene in Baltimore for this exciting two-day event. Spend an afternoon in the company of remarkable prints and people buying limited editions, drawings, multi-part portfolios, single prints, and photographs.”