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Arts and Entertainment

Hungry For Art: Food-Themed Gallery Show 'Palate' Opens Tonight

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They say you eat first with your eyes. If that is so, then your eyes will be feasting at "Palate," a new food-themed art show opening tonight at the Scion Installation Space in Culver City.

Curated by Zio Fulcher, the show features a smorgasbord of intriguing art in all sorts of mediums expressing the profound and often complicated relationship between us and food in society. Fulcher, in her first official curatorial project, explains that while "food is simple...there is something deeper going on," as evidenced, for example, in the pastel-pink menace of Scott Hove's frosting and cherry decorated "Cakeland" with shocking embedded predatory mouths complete with fangs and tongues.

Several months in the works, "Palate" showcases the work of several local artists, as well as those from other parts of the globe, who were all hand-selected by Fulcher to participate. Forget the basic fruit bowl still life, however; here the fruit shows up on a sterile orange cafeteria tray in the work of James Reynolds. The London-based artist is showing a series of photographs depicting the last meal requests of death row inmates, including an untouched selection of whole fruits in one or a pack of cigarettes and matches in another.

"I just didn't want it to be obvious," notes Fulcher. This is illustrated in each corner of the gallery, where the use or depiction of food gives the viewer pause. A towering pile of singed skulls are the work of Jeph Guercka, whose pursuit of his ancestral roots in the Czech Republic connected him with the concept of using bones in his art. But Guercka's bones are actually loaves of bread--some studded with found objects, some burned to a crisp, many rotting and molding--formed from a mold he fashioned from real human skulls.

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There's more whimsy on the table festooned with the colorful knit-work of L.A. artist Clare Crespo. Her "Louisiana Feast" is complete with cups of coffee and beignets, a pot of gumbo, oysters on the half-shell, and a King Cake (yes, with the tiny baby buried in the slices). Darlene Lacey's Candy Wrapper Musuem is represented with several sets of carefully-preserved wrappers she's collected in her lifetime, including the intriguing Chicken Dinner Candy, and candy manufactured in honor of several pop culture icons.

Fast food, of course, gets its moment in the spotlight, as best shown by Jeff Vespa in his series of hamburger photos. Lean in close to see these familiar menu items (Wendy's square patties, the Sourdough Jack, and so on) that are stark and almost lonely looking without the benefit of the food stylist's touch to make the sesame seed studding seem more beckoning. Here the bacon grease glistens where it rests in clumps, far less appealing than the artery-clogging grab-and-go we so often crave.

Food in painting is given its due by both Martha Rich and Alan Macdonald. Rich's cheery squares show beloved single food items in bold, bright colors, while Macdonald's large canvasses evoke the old masters while marrying modern products and classical religious portraiture.

For the ultimate in sustainable meat, Tamara Kostianovsky's slaughterhouse beef is actually made from items she found in her own clothes and linen closets. The sinews of muscle and flesh clinging to bone are interpreted in magenta facecloths, a wine-colored airline blanket, a padded hanger, or the hot pink waistband of Victoria's Secret underwear.

Relax and see the recycling of old cookbooks at its best, in an area displaying vintage cookbooks you can thumb through or see as art framed on the walls. The collection was fastidiously gathered during the creation of the gallery project, with bits culled from multiple sources, such as trips to the resale shops or online via Etsy. Spam pie, anyone?

"Palate" comes to the table tonight with an opening celebration from 7-10 p.m. where guests can enjoy complimentary snacks, drinks, and valet parking. They can also enter a candy-themed contest to win a cooking class from Eatz. The art is all available for purchase, and ranges from $150 up to $25,000, with 100% of the money from each sale going directly to the artist. The show will be viewable until June 12th; gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment. Bring your appetite, open wide, and enjoy.

Scion presents: PALATE An Exhibition Curated by Zio Fulcher
May 22 - June 12, 2010; Opening Reception: Saturday, May 22nd, 7-10pm
Scion Installation L.A.
3521 Helms Ave (at National) Culver City, CA. 90232
Gallery Phone: 310.815.8840

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