Last month, a tiny gallery tucked away on New York City's West 18th Street — Gallery 151, one of the city’s premier pop-up art galleries — hosted a food-focused exhibition. Marking the re-launch of their Urban Green Initiative, "Slow Food/Fast Food: Eat What You Are" dove into the transformations of food in art over the past 500 years — exposing humanity’s representations, interpretations, and overall relationship with food, and how they have or haven’t changed over time.
The rectangular gallery lined its walls mostly in canvas. Newer, more vibrantly-colored works were set alongside darker, ominous jet-ink reproductions of older 16th- and 17th-century oils. Modern artists such as Alia Diaz, John Grande, Marco Kalach, Alexander Kaletski, Tracy Miller, and Jonathan Stein contributed to the food-in-art exploration, offering their own opinions — some positive, others harshly negative — to the present day citizen’s relationship with food.
Adjacent to the Chelsea Green Sales Gallery, a new luxury condominium project slated to open in fall 2013, the doors were opened and the space shared, making the small gallery a sole viewing space and the sales gallery a place of mingling, bites, and sips.
Classic still life was turned on its head — parading everything from bejeweled-bagel-and-shmear sculpture to air-brushed banana peel shoes, putting farm-to-table against grocery-prepackaged and provoking reactions from these contrasts.
Works included canvas and oil, mixed media installations with cardboard, paint, and pencil, photography, sculpture, crystal, ink, and more. What was surprising was each medium’s ability to capture a specific mood of food in culture.
In the end, viewers were left with questions. The introspective study created an equally introspective look inside the views and values of each of us. In seeing, taking apart, setting against, and piecing back together, what are our values on food and where do they lie? A conversation that may never end. (We hope... )
Tyler Sullivan is The Daily Meal’s assistant editor.