Exhibit Offers Art-to-Table Experience

Feast on donuts, ice cream, pizza and burgers without gaining a pound. Seriously. Nassau County Museum of Art is treating foodies and art lovers in current exhibit Feast for the Eyes.

“I love a show and you walk into a museum and you feel great,” said Franklin Perrell, co-founder of Artful Circle and the exhibit’s curator. “You see color, it’s exciting, and food, what can be better than food?”

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Like a heaping plate of pasta on a chilly winter evening, the exhibit, which spans two floors of the museum, is a pick-me-up. There’s a monumental-sized, mixed media pizza by Peter Anton that is likely the exhibit’s most Instagrammed work. Jeweled purses shaped like produce, think watermelon and asparagus, by Judith Lieber sit in a case. Locals will recognize the Sagaponack vineyards and farmstands in Susan Pear Meisel’s inkjet prints. And of course, there’s an Andy Warhol soup can. Fun as the exhibit is, it offers guests something to chew on—if they wish.

Rachel Lee Hovnanian’s Rice Krispies boxes overflowing with sugar represent society’s need for instant gratification, which transcends from the table to social media. A portrait of Octomom taken by Gillian Laub shows the reality TV star (real name: Natalie Suleman) trying to feed one of her babies as the cameras roll.

“You can’t help but think a lot when you see something like that. ‘What’s going through her head? What’s the life of these babies? What led her to put this on reality TV?’”

Today’s artists are conveying food in a glamorized, super-sized and hyper-realistic fashion, which is in line with the desire for experiential dining.

“You go out east and there are all these experiences you can have with vineyards and farm-to-table. It’s no longer a starch, meat and vegetable that’s regarded as sufficient. You have to have very elegant, uplifting or healthy cuisine.”

Compare that to matter-of-fact photographs of food markets during the economic depression and 19th century paintings of simple picnics and mothers feeding their young children.

“It’s something so modest, intimate and personal.”

The exhibit takes on a political tone at times. There’s a photo by Cindy Sherman, which depicts a young working wife who comes home, spills her groceries, and watches as chaos ensues. Dana Sherwood’s Crossing the Line is a replication of an antique food cart she erected in the Botanical Garden of Brasilia. It comes complete with raw meats, cutting boards and an unscripted night-vision video of animals consuming the foods off the cart. It’s not nearly as succulent or fun to look at as Tjalf Sparnaay’s fruit salad on the first floor, but it’s full of messages.

“It’s about the issue of what happens when humanity interferes with nature.”

But Perrell has no reservations about people who come to Feast for the Eyes simply to dine on the delicious works at face value. To him, the exhibit is like an experience at today’s creative new restaurants: guests can be daring and order the octopus or fall back on the old-reliable burger.

“You hear about a lot of [art] that’s compelling but also exacerbating. [Here], you can bring something to it if you want to but you can just enjoy it.”

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a Digital Editor of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email bethann@lipulse.com or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.