Archive for the ‘Art and Food’ Category

Today’s guest post comes from arts educator and painter Kenny Yee.  He has years of experience teaching art to youth from toddlers to teenagers.  Here are a few of his ideas for recycled arts projects using food packaging from egg cartons and cereal boxes to candy bar wrappers. 

Ravens Stadium made with recycled materials

Ravens Stadium made from cardboard, bubble-wrap, and other recycled materials

Thunderstorms and gas prices are increasing, the NBA playoffs are on almost every night (unfortunately the Miami Heat are still in it), and parents and caregivers will soon scramble to find activities for their young ones to keep them occupied and engaged.  Yes, summer is almost here.  Because of the aforementioned increase in gas prices and the season’s high expenses in general, it helps to be resourceful in finding some summer fun that is free and accessible.

So if you have kids, work with kids, or spend time with kids, the following art projects can get you out of a jam on a rainy day or be the perfect activity on a sunny afternoon. There are projects for kids of all ages and all you really need is food packaging and wrappers; recycled materials (i.e. cardboard boxes, plastic bags and bottles); a few art activity necessities like tape, glue, scissors, and paint; and some imagination.

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Six Characters in Search of an Author by Kenny Yee

Six Characters in Search of an Author by Kenny Yee

I can’t resist plugging Kenny’s latest show: He’s part of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s “The Seam” exhibit, which will be in the Fox 3 Gallery at MICA – Fox Building, 3rd Floor, 1301 West Mount Royal Avenue in Baltimore, until February 15th.

I know I’m biased, but I’m going to offer my opinion anyway: It’s a great show.  What I most appreciated was the variety of work in the exhibit, from abstract and figurative paintings and glassware to videos, photographs, and installation pieces made with brightly-colored pom poms and 400 pounds of dirt from Home Depot.

Here’s the food tie-in – there are paintings on toast.

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Baltimore Counts! Book, Holland Brown Books I have mad Baltimore pride, so I love the new Baltimore Counts! book from Holland Brown Books.  It’s a counting book for kids, but it’s also filled with fun Baltimore facts and artwork from local artists – and Kenny’s one of the artists.  His painting is with fact #20.  (Kenny and I even made it onto the website – that’s us at the book opening!)  All proceeds from the book also go to the local nonprofit, OrchKids, an afterschool music program. 

So why am I plugging a children’s book on a food blog?  It’s a bit of a stretch.  But there are three fun food facts in the book, including one that makes me love Baltimore even more:

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Notebooks made with recycled paper and food labels

Are you longing for a notebook that, each time you reach for it, exudes a lovely whiff of chocolate in your direction? OK, maybe a notebook like this isn’t up as high on your “wants” list as, say, an iPad. But it sounds pretty cool, right?

And it can be yours rather quickly: you can make your own notebooks at home using your favorite recycled food labels and boxes like a Clif Bar box, coffee bag, or my favorite, a drug-store chocolate wrapper.

(Note: the scent of a coffee bag is the strongest with the chocolate bar wrapper closely behind; the Clif Bar boxes don’t have a scent.)

This idea comes from the super fun book Eco Books: Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin (and Kenny, who checked the book out of the library).  They have tons of ideas in here, including a cassette tape notebook (finally, a use for those old cassettes!) and cereal box organizer system.

Eco Books: Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin


But today is all about food notebooks.  First find a food label or box that you really like, and just remember the size of your label will influence the size of your notebook.  (King size candy bar wrappers, for example, will only be big enough for small notebooks.)  This label will be your cover.

Then think about the writing paper you want to use inside.  You have a few recycled choices:

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2010 Commencement Show at MICA, Kenneth Yee paintings

2010 Commencement Show at MICA with paintings by Kenny Yee. There's a whole spread of food downstairs; we just forgot to take a picture of it!

This is the fourth installment Kenny’s Food and Art series, following Introduction to Food and Art, Use Your Coffee to Make Some Art, and Food and Art Trivia.

I was recently doing some research to find out when and how wine first got associated with art openings, but with my poor online investigating skills, I was not able to find any information.  Food and Art seems to go hand-in-hand, pleasing your senses of taste and sight simultaneously.

As I’ve mentioned in last Sunday’s post, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars will often allow local artists to exhibit work on their dining room walls – an alternative space to galleries.  Owners see an opportunity to support the local art community while realizing that a room full of compelling artwork can enhance the dining experience of their patrons.  Not only does fine art show up on the walls within the food industry, but food has invaded many facets of the Art World.

As I wrote earlier, wine– and sometimes beer as well – is a staple at art openings.  During special events and art walks, it is common to see a light spread of food, such as crackers and cheese, with fruit and cookies.

In one of the group critiques at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), a classmate of mine served doughnut munchkins, pastries and juice right before her crit, possibly a peace offering for us to be gentle.

And in Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World, she writes about her experience of sitting in on a crit class at CalArts, and it is the responsibility of those receiving constructive feedback to actually feed the peers in attendance.

But when I think about the MICA art openings – which always have an impressive offering of sandwich wraps, veggies, hummus and pita, fruit, chips with salsa, crackers and cheese – I can’t help but envision the flock of undergrads who circle the food table and then set up camp and chow down like it’s their last meal.

Here’s a good example.  At a recent studio visit, the artist provided a generous amount of pizza for the students.  To my surprise, after one slice and a conversation, I went back to the table for a second slice and all 5 boxes were empty!  I was shocked, but fine with it.  Ten minutes later, when the food had been long gone, there were a couple of younger artists who still had a plate full of pizza – maybe 5 slices each – enjoying their smorgasbord in the corner.  It prompted one of my classmates to question their lack of consideration and say if they were still hungry afterwards, “go home and eat a bowl of cereal.”

My favorite food and art experience was in Portland, Oregon during a monthly art walk.  While navigating a long stretch of blocks that housed numerous art galleries, you could walk the festive streets in the cool evening breeze as local musicians played on sidewalks and various food vendors offered a variety of delicious bites from their tables and carts.  I remember eating some tasty authentic tamales while enjoying all that Portland had to offer from their local artists.  A perfect blend of food and art for the perfect night!

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I want to say a big thank you to Kenny who really came through for me this weekend while I was having fun going to all the festivities for my good friend Nicole’s wedding.  Without further ado, here is the third post in Kenny’s Food and Art series, following Introduction to Food and Art and Use Your Coffee to Make Some Art.

For week three of my Guest Blogging on Food and Art Sundays, I’m offering some random Food and Art Trivia with some advice for emerging artists:

Van Gogh Art

1.  VAN GOGH EATS PAINT:  During Vincent van Gogh’s tragic and emotionally-troubled life – he also had a complicated condition of mild epilepsy, bipolar disorder, syphilis and glaucoma – the artist spent time in an asylum where he endured periods of mental collapses where he ate his own oil paints.

2.  THE VISUAL ART IN FOOD:  For those who have seen Iron Chef America (a cooking competition), it is clear that visual aesthetics is extremely important when it comes to food. A chef can be awarded up to 20 points from a judge – 5 of those points are based on “plating”, which means 25% of your score is based on visual artistic merit and not taste! I’ve seen episodes where one chef may have slightly edged another in taste, but ultimately lost the competition because the other chef’s artistic plating was far superior in the judges’ eyes.  

And as a side note, I’ve learned some secrets about the Iron Chef show: *Chefs actually get 15 minutes to discuss and plan with their teams after learning what the secret ingredient is and the secret ingredient never comes as a complete surprise to them: apparently they are given a list of 5 ingredients before the taping, 1 of which will be the secret ingredient. The chefs also provide the show’s producers with a list of ingredients that they will need for each of the 5 possible secret ingredients so they are available for them at Kitchen Stadium.

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This is Kenny’s 2nd guest post as part of his Food & Art series.  If you like what you read here, please stop by Kenny’s website to view his art, or take a look at his blog.  Also, as an aside, Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, Kenny’s Mom, and all of you who are Moms, and have a wonderful day!

Using Coffee in Art

Coffee was used like paint, covering the canvas of "I Fall in Love Twice a Day."

Jen always begins her morning with some chocolate – hence the name for her blog – I however need to jumpstart my day with a more conventional, caffeinated beverage.  And if I had to choose one item of consumption that I could not give up, it would most certainly be coffee.

For my second Sunday posting of Food and Art, I will turn my attention to my one constant craving that I have whether it’s early in the morning, mid-day in my studio, or late-night right before I go to bed.  Some studies suggest that coffee consumption reduces the risk of being affected by Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Even though opinions vary, researchers involved in an ongoing 22-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health state that “the overall balance of risks and benefits [of coffee consumption] are on the side of benefits.”

But it appears that people are not just drinking it to wake themselves up or to improve their health.  They are also applying coffee in the field of the creative arts… myself included.

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