Showcase: All You Need is Love and Lobster
A deliciously offbeat show by a Maritime artist with a flair for retro fashion and a hunger for certain crustaceans
It’s quirky, it’s retro—and it’s unlike any art exhibit you’ve ever seen.
With Canada’s momentous anniversary now upon us, Canadians from coast to coast are reflecting on what it truly means to be a Canadian and what our country means on the world’s stage. It’s no secret that many parts of the world are in an eerie state of political turmoil, war, economic instability and anarchy, yet Canada still continues to enjoy a sense of prolonged stability, calm and compassion.
For Maritimers, a big part of the Canadian experience is catching, preparing and eating lobster.
Have you ever eaten a fresh Nova Scotia lobster? Steaming hot with melted butter, and a squeeze of lemon on the side?
You start with the legs. Succulent, tasty temptations of the feast to come. A spray of juice from freshly cracked claws and knuckles full of the taste of briny ocean—you’d better wear a bib!
Then—best of all—the tail, so full of meat and dipped in butter, it is a dripping-down-your-chindelicious delight!
By now you are stuffed, and if you just can’t eat any more, your lobster body is snatched up by someone else at the table who savours the caviar of the lobster— the roe and the tomalley inside. The roe is the “red stuff,” the unfertilized eggs of the female lobster. The tomalley, or the “green stuff,” is the digestive gland that acts as the intestine, liver and pancreas. Many consider them a delicacy.
As you’ve likely surmised by now, I love lobster! And I love the language of dining with lobster. When buying a lobster, I first ask for a female, and then inquire, “Is she fresh and is she full?” Meaning full of meat and loaded with roe. I always start with the legs and end up asking who wants my body. The words used to describe the meal are like those used to describe a beautiful woman. Eating a female lobster is an enticing feast.
My absolute love of lobster inspired a recent art
show that launched on June 18 at the ARTSPLACE in Annapolis Royal, N. S. I titled it “All You Need Is Love. And Lobster.” It is a contemporary culinary showcase, with a menu of 17 acrylic paintings, celebrating the savoury experience and sexy language of dining with a Nova Scotia lobster. Most of the women featured in this series were selected from vintage advertisements from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Extracting the images of these women from their original advertising environment, I placed them in the context of adoring lobsters, then added retro backgrounds and headlines.
Picture Angie Dickinson, laying full length in a 1981 ad for California avocados. The headline asks, “Would this body lie to you?” Using just her legs, with a lobster draped over one of them, my repurposed headline reads, “Fresh Lobster.”
The director of the gallery, Sophie Paskins, a delightful addition to the art scene in Nova Scotia, joked when she saw it, saying, “That lobster looks awfully tired!”
“Of course,” I replied, “he was up all night. Lobsters are nocturnal, you know!”
The headlines are fun, full of opportunities for me to play on words. “Ret-roe Lobster,” with its paisley/floral background reminiscent of the ’70s, is one example. Or in “Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat,” the lady depicted sports a boa of female lobsters, as she goes about her life “merrily, merrily, merrily.” After all, the more roe there is, the more lobsters you get to enjoy! And no matter what shell the female lobster wears, she is always in fashion.
In “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue,” the blue-gloved
woman holds a blue lobster as if it were a bouquet of flowers. Did you know that the blue lobster is very rare? Only one in two million is blue.
I can’t help but feel that Maritimers are spoiled in Nova Scotia. Although the lobster fishing seasons are staggered and vary by location, it is lobster season all year long! In the painting “Tis the Season to Be Jolly,” a woman hoists a lobster trap like Santa’s sack, against a background of lobster Christmas wrapping paper.
Not only is lobster delicious and always in fashion, it’s healthy, too. According to Canada’s Food Guide, lobster is generally low in fat and provides essential nutrients. A one-pound lobster contains around 115 calories, less than 1 gram of fat and a healthy 28 grams of protein per cup. Dipping it in butter, however, adds fat and calories, but that’s the diner’s choice and no fault of the lovely and nutritious lobster.
With all the positives lobster has to offer, it’s no wonder I was so inspired by the subject! ■
A snapshot from Cynthia’s exhibition in June 2017, from left to right: woodcarver Philip Eisner; David Archibald (kneeling); Cynthia; Christine Henry Delong (Cynthia’s twin!); Hal Forbes; Wendy Abramson (behind); Jan Mckinnon; Sue Hersey; and Becky Robar.