Michelle wrote about food in literature while getting her Masters degree from Johns Hopkins. We lived in Baltimore and spent many evenings drinking wine and talking about books, food, movies, ideas and art. Listening to her talk about how everything is affected by our relationship with food opened my eyes to how food is a tangle of the ordinary, spiritual, political and cultural. Michelle is my muse but I haven't done a pile of portraits of her. She is not a sit still kind of girl. She feeds my mind. The ideas make their way into my art.
I eventually started a series of paintings of food. I exhibited those paintings in many exhibitions including two solo shows, Shelf Life at Opus6ix Gallery and Fresh at David Joyce Gallery. Just recently I am included in two group exhibitions that question the role of food in culture. Farm to Table:Table at David Joyce Gallery in Eugene, Oregon and Culture and Agriculture at New Visions Gallery in Marshfield, Wisconsin both deal with the disconnection between the food we eat and its production. I heard Tony Shalhoub interviewed on the radio yesterday and that made me think of Big Night. Michelle and I saw that movie at The Charles Theater when it came out in 1996. The cultural enthusiasm over food was buzzing in the zeitgeist. When we moved to Eugene in 1997 The slow food movement and Community Supported Agriculture were taking off. Eugene already had well established farmers markets and community garden programs. We got a community garden plot and began growing our own vegetables. My series of still life food paintings began with squash grown from our community garden. Here is something I wrote for the Farm to Table:Table exhibit-
Farm to Table: Table Since the industrialization of our food supply we have begun to develop a vision of a romantic farm. We romanticize agriculture of the past. This is not so helpful in describing the past but instead tells us more about our own desire. Industrialization has many benefits and we cannot go backward. Industrialized agriculture also has costs. One of these is our connection to the food. We seem to need its connection: we want a beautiful vision of where our food comes from. Our food has never come from the Garden of Eden. It is doubtful the truth of food production will ever live up to that idea, but I see that we crave that vision. In that way food is important beyond it’s physical nourishment. In the painting of still life the subject takes on a new importance. The image is similar to a shrine. We are allowed the time to observe and contemplate. I feel that this exhibit is a connection to my own personal work. It seeks to question our own connection to the food we eat. How can we reconcile our physical needs with our spiritual needs?