Had a try at a potluck / salon last night. I'm afraid I'm still learning to host a party, and am not very good at leasding conversations and discussions interesting directions while getting out dessert plates (for J, Ana Fores' excellent tiramisu).
It might be worthwhile to try to steal an idea from -- is it some men's club like Rotary or Lions? -- which has a "toastmaster" or "mistress of ceremonies" in addition to a host/ess. In other words, while the host/ess can make sure everyone has food and a place to sit and is introduced, perhaps there could be some sort of designated person to see that if people have brought something to share (like Therese's neat broadsides or Ara's new book cover or Wendy's tarot) (the art potluck part), they can share it more formally, and at the beginning of the evening; and then as we eat and chat, can keep leading conversation back to art(s)? I think that's what these toastmasters do, anyway, having never been to a Lions (or Moose, or Elk, for that matter) meeting.
I know that for more experienced hosts, this happens quite naturally, but I am hardly one of them! I think this is one of the reasons that doing a potluck-in-rotation is a fine idea, and having a potluck around an event (such as before the readings Ara, Rob, and I are doing) is also a good plan.
Thanks again for all your parts of making the evening swell as well as sultry (well, ok, just plain hot).