Monday, January 19, 2009

Eat This: A Food-Centric Art Exhibit

By Pat Tanner

You can’t eat the works in “From the Garden of Earthly Delights,” the food-centric exhibition at the Arts Guild of Rahway, but I encourage you to devour them with your eyes. You’re sure to come away both hungry and satisfied.

The tempting offerings by 16 accomplished artists are variously witty, provocative, funny, beautiful, touching, sardonic, and downright disturbing. Admittedly, those in the last category - like vegan artist Channan Delivuk’s series of photos, Flesh…It’s What’s for Dinner – won’t increase your appetite anytime soon.

I couldn’t stop grinning at Nao Matsumoto’s lifelike bowls of cheese dip and tortilla chips – made of resin and wax but, come to think of it, maybe that’s not so different from the real thing. The kicker is the plastic toy soldier neck-deep and sinking in the bright orange dip.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at Birth Control, one of five works by Joe Waks. Suffice it to say that the name suits the unopened but, ahem, altered packages of Marshmallow Peep Bunnies in all their pastel glory.

Erika Diamond’s group of three torsos formed by overlapping grape skins is as beautiful as it is original. Traditionalists will enjoy the lovingly rendered still-life oils of asparagus, peaches, oranges, etc. by Gerry Heydt. More unusual are the just as lovingly rendered Hostess Cupcakes, Twinkies, and Devil Dogs in Gina Minichino’s Assorted Snack Cakes.

I won’t be a spoiler by describing the specifics of the video installation Tasting Rachael Ray by Naomi Liebowitz. Let’s just say this perfect audio accompaniment to the works on display will appeal equally to Rachael’s fans and detractors.

Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., but you can also visit during the staff’s office hours or by appointment. Just call ahead to arrange. Although the exhibition technically ends February 1st, the art will be hanging, most temptingly, a few days beyond.

1670 Irving Street

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