Nosh is Nice: Grub-Inspired Art Featured at Glitter Milk Gallery
“Everybody has something they love to digest! We want to celebrate the stuff that helps keep us alive!”
Food is part of the universal human experience, rife with personal, political and cultural significance. It engages all the senses, and has the uncanny ability to tap into our psyche. Unlike sight or sound, taste and smell are associated with bodily experience. Western convention has valued activities of the mind more than sensation, in part because the latter is subjective, ergo a sloppier subject of study, but it’s precisely this sloppiness that’s celebrated in Buffet: A Grub-inspired Show, which abounds with nostalgia, irony, and color.
The June 6 opening of Buffet included ample lowbrow comestibles, the list of works was cleverly designed to resemble a menu, and even the music selections seemed relevant (and played at a mercifully tolerable volume).
Among the nostalgic notables is Gala Delish’s, Sugar Bomb, a collection of shellacked meringue-like confections and candy dishes arranged on a vintage TV tray. Alexandra Johnson’s embroidered composition Royal Sweets features a nonpareille-encrusted frame.
Asian popular culture is a repeated theme, including an illustrated anecdote about the pleasures of ramen by Stephanie Kang titled, “How to Eat Ramen: A Guide”. Kawaii-inspired Spicy Springs by Andrea Hines, depicts a bowl of curry filled with adorable ingredients. Kim Nguyen’s mixed media drawing Sushi Sushi on the Soy Shore, is inhabited by anthropomorphized sashemi cavorting on a beach of rice.
I was initially disappointed that half the works included are digital images. Aside from the potential for high color saturation, digital art lacks sensual appeal, but it’s accessibility is consistent with Sharpe’s vision for the gallery. Furthermore, because Sharp doesn’t limit her exhibitions to regional artists, the inclusion of reproductions is a pragmatic solution to the logistics of packing and shipping. The viewing audience benefits by having the option to purchase reproductions of exhibited works. That being said, I would’ve loved to see Angelina Ricardo’s, Mashed Potato Dreamer in its painted form, instead of a scanned/printed version.
Food has inspired many plastic, literary, and performative works. Still-lifes by the likes of Willem Kalf, Clara Peters, readily come to mind. Kara Walker’s A Subtlety or The Marvelous Sugar Baby (2014), included sculptural objects made from sugar. Marcel Proust’s epic À la recherche du temps perdu, was prompted by the taste of a tea cake. Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons (1914), includes many poems dedicated to foodstuffs. Performative examples include Meret Oppenheim’s Cannibal Feast (1959), Allan Kaprow’s, household (1964), and more recently Rirkrit Triavanija’s events that revolve around the preparation and consumption of food.
The only quibble with Buffet is the number of zombie girls–often disembodied heads or busts of young women, with vacant or averted eyes. Six such daft damsels, in an exhibition with a mere thirty-two works is a notable percentage, particularly when their relevance to the theme is not apparent. At least the sexpot/retro harlots of Coffee is Your Master, by Ryan Brady, or Anthony Carpenter’s The Devil and the Angel Pizza, are sentient (albeit dangerous) female specimens.
Buffet is the eighth exhibition curated by founder Miranda Sharp, since Glitter Milk’s opening in spring of 2014. Sharpe is supported in this endeavor by her partner/gallery technician/fiancée Josh McVety.
Glitter Milk Gallery is located at 901 Alpine Ave NW, Grand Rapids 49504
Hours are by appointment. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org