Menu: edible elements of artKirkland Arts Center
May 12th through June 3rd.
Ah, opening night receptions! Got’a love’em! This show was curated by Leslie Riches and was put together masterfully! It’s rare that I’ll attend a show that I love just about every thing about but this one did it. It starts out with a very simple premise; food as art. What came from the artists was very high concept.
I found that the flow of the gallery worked very well with the sets of work on display. As posted earlier, I was to display a eight foot by eight foot en caustic coffee painting of a barista’s rosetta foam art. I understand fully why the portraits from the coffee culture series were opted for by the facilities director, Jason. I can’t imagine that painting in with the rest of this work. Excellent job!
Most of the artists were present for the opening and all were very gracious and pleasant to talk with. I would like to thank each one for their insight and approachability.
One of the goals of this show and the Kirkland Arts Center was to show contemporary art in an area that historically hasn’t embraced it. This was approached with the idea of using food as the theme so everyone could connect with the concept.
Because of the subject matter and hunger in the Northwest despite an over-abundance of food this Opening Reception was also a food drive to benefit Hopelink’s Kirkland Service Center, and all visitors were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items.
Here are some highlights to the show:
Carmen Valdes (Seattle, WA) put together one of the most compelling installations ever utilizing rice. Two larger than life, larger than me, chop sticks were intricately adorned with thousands upon thousands of grains of rice. The patterns she obtained with the naturally colored, hand sorted, rice is as lavish as treasured tapestries. A must see. Very smart. A textural statement on the worlds dependency on rice. Very rich visually.
Theresa Lovering-Brown (Davis, CA) created beautifully encased garlic and chili peppers wrapped with sterling silver and steel. Her work presented here revolves around immigrant workers she sees everyday toiling away. Theresa’s vision, attention to detail and skill combine to make very desirable wearable art.
Teresa was kind enough to pose for a photo of what she was wearing to the show. These pieces are wonderful to view on a pedestal and even more stunning on such a radiant woman.
Patty Cokus (Seattle, WA) had one of my favorite concepts. This one took a second round to get the full effect for me and a second “wow.”
The first time viewing her capillary tubes and reading the description I got the idea that food is carried in our blood stream and it’s what makes our body what it is. Patty had taken very small bits of food and some how, meticulously placed it inside the blood capillary tubes. Of these she made unique looking sculptures or jewelry. This was a wonderful idea, very worthy of being in this show.
The second time around I noticed the individual sculptures not only had food in them but each one was a different type of diet. The furthest to the left was a very health diet and the furthest to the right was packed full of Dick’s burgers and greasy fries! To go even further the health diet sculpture had a resemblance to a healthy hourglass figure while the further to the right you go the more bulbous and unflattering the sculptures became. The second wow.
Dee Fontans (Calgary, Alberta) is a performance artist and contributed some wonderful images of clothing made of food as well as many small tiles (pins?) made of Japanese seaweed. Some of the jewelry she had on display consisted of tubes with different types of food in them. A couple of her outfits were on display as well.
Edward Patrick Kranz – Ezju (Seattle, WA) displayed 6 of his coffee culture series. These images are scenes of coffee culture here in Seattle painted with coffee as the medium. This on going series is an attempt to take a look at different cultures of the world through one of the most influential commodities around. The coffee bean. The next step in this series is a trip to Guatemala and Costa Rica to paint the fair trade farmers and how their culture is affected by coffee beans. There should be a telling contrast in the two sets of paintings.
Tom Müller (Los Angeles, CA) had two excellent works in progress for us to witness. One has been decaying since 2003 and the other was a more recent (set up yesterday) display of oranges under bricks on wooden blocks. This piece will change throughout the course of the month long show. Theoretically each time you visit the piece will be different. Last night there was juice from one of the oranges that exploded under the weight of the bricks! What fun!
Seriously Tom’s work shows a wonderful juxtaposition of organic and inanimate objects and the beauty of change. Again, wonderfully thought out work.
Toi Sennhauser (Seattle, WA) had one of the more interactive pieces at Menu. A cleverly crafted vender cart peddling wish cream puffs! A patron could purchase an unfilled cream puff for $1. Using a funnel hose with a cream puff filler attachment the patron then plugged the filler end into the cream puff and whispered a secret into the funnel. Once the secret was safely inside the pastry real cream was then pushed in to fill the void and hole. The patron could then eat their wish or serve it someone else to try.
When I attempted this I found it hard to come up with a secret. After a few moments I did and filled my cream puff! Leaving my secret cream puff for someone else to consume a friend of mine and I pondered the consequences of telling my secret to her. Would something happen to the cream puff? Was it safe? Should we call Homeland Security?
On a side note, Leslie Riches smashed her secret cream puff on the wall! If only walls really did have ears! What an ear full that one would have got!
Another concept from Toi was a shelf with three candy jars. The candies were repetitive of who she thought her Mother, Father and Husband were in context of color, flavor, smell and texture in the mouth. I tried a piece of her husband first and found him to be rather rich tasting as in a toffee but after several minutes a powerful but not overwhelming hot spice kicked in. All in all she has a good man.
Toi’s mother was a lighter colored, salty taste of a lady that gave way to a very sweat core. This was in contrast to her father that had an amber color and tasted just that. Tasty but not too sweet, not too spicy or salty. Just good. There were some flakes of flavor that would spark out momentarily and then resume the amber flavor. Mellow Yellow. This was a very cool multi-sensational reorientation of her loved ones. I enjoyed her family.
Josephine Balakrishnan (Berkeley, CA)teased our senses with the power of chocolate! Three fun pieces made of chocolate, edible rice paper and edible ink captured our eyes with whimsical imagery and torture our noses and taste buds with the desire to consume her delicious work.
There was joking about pitching in and purchasing one of the bars to eat it. Just to put some of us out of our misery. I’m not so sure it was all humor though. I’ll have to back and see if all three made it through the night!
All in all I had a wonderful time. Made some new friends. Talked to some old friends. Even learned a thing or two. I’m looking for a book now. The History of the World in Just 6 Cups. Apparently it explains history through a few beverages and how the world we know today was shaped by them. I’ll let you know if I find it, read it and what I think.
If you haven’t made it to Menu: edible elements of art I would highly recommend it!
Menu is funded in part with grants from 4Culture, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Premier Properties, Artsfund and individuals.
Leslie Riches has been a member of the Seattle Metals Guild since 1996. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Washington and studied metal work at Lynne Henry Studios. Past exhibits include the Larson Gallery in Yakima, BKB and Company, and the Commencement Gallery in Tacoma. Her work was in the 2004 Tacoma Art Museum’s Northwest Biennial.