The Festival: Communal Tables


March 18-20, 2011


St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church
the historic Capuchin Franciscan Church, founded in 1908 and in the Friars' care since 1922
10122 Compton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90002

Friday March 18, 3:00 P.M. – 7:30 pm
Saturday March 19, 10:00 A.M. – 5:00pm
Sunday March 20, 10:00 A.M. – 5:00 pm

Visitors are expected at all times to be respectful of this sacred space and of parishioners.

[Created by Italians of Los Angeles and the Accademia Italiana della Cucina - Italian Academy of Cuisine, with the assistance of artists from the Watts Towers Arts Center and Mudtown Farms]
Based on Sicilian tradition, St. Joseph's Tables* are meant to feed the poor, to practice hospitality, and to welcome the stranger. A table is laid out. All are welcome. These tables both commemorate a time when diaspora Italians represented a community in need, and, as a springtime recurrence, they also celebrate abundance. A critical part of 'giving a table" is to engage in the 'ritual begging" for food, collecting what is needed from friends, family, and community, in order to re-distribute it to those who most need it. In Sicilian villages, in previous times, such collecting would have been done barefoot, knocking on doors and publicly humbling oneself. It may represent an act of empathy with those who must do this daily.

Come view our beautiful altar, adorned with ritual braided and decorative breads, garlands of citrus and foliage, flowers, and the seasons' first fruits, and leave an offering of canned and packaged foods, or a monetary donation to benefit local food pantries. In turn, visitors will receive a ritual offering: bread roll, orange, and fava bean!

*Read more: 'Rituals of Charity and Abundance: Sicilian St. Joseph's Tables and Feeding the Poor in Los Angeles." California Italian Studies Journal, 1(2).


Please donate by March 17!
All donations are fully tax-deductible. Donors will be recognized online (unless anonymity is preferred). Download letter on how and what to donate, or proceed to St.Alban's online payment page:
Domate Now
Monetary Donations: Please make check payable to: 'St. Alban's - Discretionary Fund" and send to:
St. Joseph in Watts
c/o St. Alban's Episcopal Church
580 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024.

Food Donations: Preferred foods: non-perishable food items, including canned tuna, meat, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, pasta, rice, beans, etc. Please state when dropping off food that it is a donation for the 'Communal Tables in Watts" food drive.

Food drop-off in Watts:
Mudtown Farms
c/o Watts Labor Community Action Committee
10950 South Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90059

Food drop-off in Westwood:
St. Alban's Episcopal Church
580 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Donations have been gratefully received from: Hugh Leonard, Rev’d. Joanne Leslie, Ava Stanton.



Friday March 18, 6:15 pm

Similar in spirit to the Las Posadas in Mexican Christmas tradition, three parishioners representing Mary, Joseph, and Joseph ("the Saints" or "I Santi"), seeking shelter and hospitality at the Inn, knock on two doors of the Church, are turned away twice, then upon knocking at the third door are welcomed into the Church and offered hospitality at the St. Joseph's Altar.


Saturday March 19
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 pm

MudTown Farms
103rd & Grape St.

Please join us for a morning of family fun at MudTown Farms. Participate in tour, storytelling, food and design project stations. RSVP to Watts Labor Community Action Committee at (323) 563.5639.

MudTown Farms is a 2.48 acre community sustainable farm project located in Watts, California. The MudTown Farms model integrates bio-diverse farming, nutrition education, physical fitness and other community benefit programming to maximize local participation in eco-conscious practices that promote community wellness and access to safe and secure food.

Long before the issue of "food deserts" and the scarcity of fresh, healthful food in some neighborhoods moved onto the public agenda, the Watts community planted a garden on a burned-out lot after the Watts riots of 1965. For years, a small group of people has controlled plots at Mudtown, along the lines of a community garden [...] The Watts Labor Community Action Committee, a service and development organization that bought the land in 2005 with assistance from the national nonprofit Trust for Public Land, is seeking to make Mudtown Farms a vibrant magnet for raising food awareness, improving access and building community, said Janine Watkins, a consultant on the project. Read more on design ideas for Mudtown Farms from students of the "Community Design Program" at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles Times.


Saturday March 19
1:00 - 3:00 pm

St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church
Parish Hall

ST. JOSEPH, SAN GIUSEPPE, SAN JOSÉ - Illustrated Lectures

Charlene Villaseñor-Black, Associate Professor UCLA Art History and
Chicana/o Studies
The Cult of St. Joseph in Mexico and the Hispanic World

This illustrated lecture will look at the imagery of St. Joseph, named patron of Mexico and the conversion to Christianity in 1555 and patron of Spain in 1672. How did artists create imagery for this newly important saint's cult? How was such imagery used during the conquest and conversion of Mexico? What is the relationship between St. Joseph and Mexico's better-known patroness, the Virgin of Guadalupe?

Professor Villaseñor Black has been a professor at UCLA since 2001. She teaches a range of courses on Spanish, Mexican, and Chicana/o visual cultures. The author of Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire (Princeton, 2006), she has published widely on Catholic saints' imagery in the Hispanic world. She has held numerous grants, and has recently been awarded the ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship for 2011-2012 to finish work on her new book, Transforming Saints: Women, Art, and Conversion in Spain and Mexico, 1521-1800.


Luisa Del Giudice, Project Coordinator, Watts Towers Common Ground Initiative
Rituals of Charity and Abundance: The Sicilian St. Joseph's Day Table in Los Angeles, A Feast for Our Times

This lecture explores the various meanings of the mid-Lenten St. Joseph's Table tradition in Sicily, Los Angeles (and New Orleans), and the place of food altars and communal tables within the Watts Towers Common Ground Initiative. How does this tradition address issues of food justice, symbolically celebrate abundance, as well as dramatize the migration narrative itself (through the Holy Family's Flight into Egypt pageant). How is the St. Joseph's Table tradition indeed, a 'feast for our times," going beyond the prism of a specific ethnic community? How does this work of bridging academic discourse and social engagement embrace an 'ethnography of compassion."

Professor Luisa Del Giudice was born in Italy, emigrated to Toronto in 1956 and has lived in Los Angeles since 1981. As an independent scholar, university and public sector educator (as the founder-director of Italian Oral History Institute), she bridges roles and audiences through innovative programs on ethnology, folkore, and oral history. She has lectured and published widely on foodways (e.g., gastronomic utopias, wine culture, history of pasta, St. Joseph's Table), material culture and belief, oral expressions (especially song and folk revival movements) and oral history. She is committed to peace and social action through cross-cultural and interfaith dialog. She is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society and Knight (Cavaliere) of the Italian Republic.



Sunday March 20
Immediately following 11:00 am Mass

Shared Meal of Pasta e Fagioli - Italian Bean Soup
Offered to parishioners of St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church

Soup prepared by Evan Kleiman, breads by Celestino Drago, fruit donated by Sam Perricone, Food Forward, and served by volunteers from UCLA, the Italian community of Los Angeles, the Italian Academy of Cuisine of Los Angeles, KCRW, Watts, and others. All donations of collected foods and monetary donations will be distributed to local Watts residents through the food pantries of St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church, the Watts Senior Citizens Center, and the Watts Towers Arts Center.

Communal Meal made possible by chefs Evan Kleiman (Host, KCRW “Good Food”) and Celestino Drago, with Sam Perricone Citrus Co., Food Forward, and your donations! See above. Download letter on how and what to donate.

Domate Now


Sponsors of "Communal Tables & Sustainability" Program:

Accademia Italiana della Cucina - Italian Academy of Cuisine
Istituto Italiano di Cultura – Italian Cultural Institute
The Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles
Watts Towers Arts Center
Mudtown Farms
St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church
St. Alban's Episcopal Church
St. Alban's Interfaith Beijing Circle
UCLA Chicana/o Studies
Loyola Marymount University
Food Section, Los Angeles Times
Wesley Foundation serving UCLA
UCLA Episcopal Campus Ministry

"COMMUNAL TABLE & SUSTAINABILITY" Coordinator: Luisa Del Giudice



While in Watts, Visit…

Watts Towers Arts Center
1727 East 107th St., Los Angeles, 90002

Watts Towers
Hours, Admission, Guided Tours & more at website

Migrating Towers : I Gigli di Nola and Beyond
Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center
Closes April 30; Re-opens in New York: John D. Calandra Italian American Insitute, Queens College, CUNY, June 22 – August 19, 2011

Dominique Moody: Narrative Odyssey
Manifesting Artistic Dreams

Watts Towers Arts Center
Closes August 7

Mudtown Farms
(see above) Located three blocks east of the Watts Towers 

St Joseph's Table

Donations gratefully received from: Hugh Leonard, Rev’d. Joanne Leslie, Ava Stanton, Tiziana Alessandro Mitchell, Celestino Drago, Evan Kleiman, Sam Perricone,Charles W. Sacquetry Jr., Paula Tavrow, Margaret Davis, Luisa Del Giudice, Trader Joe’s, Ralphs Market, Nora Clark, Edward F. Tuttle, Claire Lavagnino, Joe Calabrese, the Rev'd. Susan Klein,, Elisabetta Conti, Nicola Faganello, Dyan Sublett, Claudia Rapp, Elizabeth Goldfarb, Roxanne Hill, Kersten and Tom Stempel, Via Nueva Mexican Grocers,Marisa Antonini, Mirella Ventress, Italian Heritage Culture Foundation, Bread for the Journey Los Angeles

Special Thanks to: Nicola Faganello, Italian Consul in Los Angeles, Alberto Di Mauro, Massimo Sarti, Caterina Magrone, Michela Magri’, Serena Cammozzo, Istituto Italiano di Cultura; Rosie Lee Hooks, Rogelio Acevedo, Alex Campos, Augustine Aguirre, Watts Towers Arts Center; Claire Lavagnino, Dept. of Italian, UCLA, Teresa Perez, St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church; Janine Watkins, Mudtown Farms; Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times; the Rev’d. Susan Klein, Nancy John, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Celestino Drago, Drago Restaurant Group, Evan Kleiman, Host, KCRW Good Food, Sam Perricone Citrus Co., Nilde Rivosecchi, Rivodesign, the Buscemi Carlson Family, Elena Tuttle, Edward Tuttle, Mattia Bastasin, Perricone Family Foundation, Nancy Romero

St Joseph's Table