SWEET & SAVORY brings together a diverse group of works that examine our complicated and multi-layered relationship to food. Using a broad range of materials, each of these artists points to our cultural obsessions with food as: aesthetic object, social signifier, a vehicle of memory, or an icon of comfort and indulgence.
JULIE ALLEN’s delicate fabric sculptures of pastries and fruit salads and ORLY COGAN’s installation of knitted, crocheted and sewn desserts extend traditional notions about so-called “women’s work”. JOE BRAINARD’s (1942-1994) intimate and poetic collages vibrate with cartoon-like images of ice cream cones, cookies and cake. SCOTT TEPLIN’s signature drawings of sweets are accompanied by a heaping serving of 54 tiny frosted doughnut sculptures. Similarly, PAT LASCH and JAMES JAXXA create meticulous scultures of desserts that look good enough to eat! JOHN AVELLUTO’s poured painting of an appetizing pepperoni pizza extends the trompe-l’oeil tradition in its unique approach to the idea of painting as sculpture. VENSKE & SPÄNLE’s newest sculptures of carved marble playfully “crawl” among boxes and jars of German sweets.
THOMAS LANIGAN-SCHMIDT’s glittering portrait of Paula Dean transforms this culinary icon into a literal icon, replete with Byzantine allusions. Photo-collage and the accumulation of painted gold potatoes conjures one of COLETTE’s historic personae, Mata Hari and the Stolen Potatoes. AL HANSEN’s (1927-1995) signature collage of Hershey wrappers depicting the all-American hot dog begs the question: Is it sweet or is it savory?, while JEAN LOWE’s papier-mache book asks: “What Would Satan Eat?” MARK WAGNER’s currency collage of George Washington eating a dollar bill and C.K. WILDE’s play on Wayne Thiebaud’s dessert paintings rendered in colorful world currencies point knowingly to the relationship between money and consumption. BARBARA SANDLER’s Chiquitta’s Revenge shows a well-heeled foot slipping on the proverbial banana peel.
DONNA SHARRETT’s signature mandalas of synthetic hair, rose petals, guitar string ends, wedding bands and other mementos float on pristine white surfaces of encaustic, like ornate wedding cakes. The materiality of the object is equally tantalizing in CHRISTOPHER TANNER’s scrumptious assemblages of paint, sand, glitter, sequins, faux jewels and shiny leather. AL SOUZA’s puzzle painting Carnival and DON JOINT’s Strawberry Shortcake celebrate culinary decadence and the Carnivalesque while MAC PREMO’s and BUSTER CLEVELAND’s (1943-1998) poured plastic assemblages celebrate the imagery of commerce with bold references to food.
BARTON LIDICÉ BENEŠ’ museum of food relics and colorful petit-fours made from AIDS drugs take a decidedly playful approach to more somber subjects while JOHN EVANS’ daily collages employ numerous labels from food packaging, restaurants and advertising exploring individual and collective memory.