The Oklahoman

Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns served up in OKC’s ‘Art of Food’

- Brandy McDonnell

Featuring works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer and Oklahoma’s own Ed Ruscha, the latest exhibition at Oklahoma Contempora­ry Arts Center offers a visual feast created by some of the biggest names in contempora­ry art.

A veritable cornucopia of prints, photograph­s, sculptures and more, “The Art of Food: From the Collection­s of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation” is on view through May 22 at the Automobile Alley landmark, where admission is free. The exhibit dishes up an array of themes related to what we eat, from cultural traditions and land use to climate change and animal welfare.

“(It’s) a show about one of the most commonly depicted objects in our history, but taking different angles,” said Oklahoma Contempora­ry Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis.

In time for spring break, the nonprofit arts center will celebrate “The Art of Food” with a full menu of familyfrie­ndly activities from 1 to 4 p.m. March 11 for its monthly Second Saturday XL. Boasting the theme “Eat Your Art Out” in honor of the exhibit, the festivitie­s will include story times, a canned food drive, popsicles from WonderVan Pops, and art-making activities.

“I’m excited because it’s such an accessible show. We get so many people here who aren’t art gallery familiar, and this is something that all people can relate to,” said Lori Brooks, Oklahoma Contempora­ry’s communicat­ions director.

Here are eight tasty artistic treats to keep your eyes peeled for in the exhibit “The Art of Food”:

1. Hometown hero uses chocolate syrup, baked beans and more to make a statement

An iconic Los Angeles artist who grew up in Oklahoma City, Ed Ruscha was in an especially organic experiment­al phase when he created the 1970 series of screenprin­ts “News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews & Dues,” each depicting a single word boldly depicted in Gothic typeface.

“(It’s) a signature style of Ed’s, taking words and then transferri­ng them to paintings or prints. He’s riffing on some of the British-isms ... with these different phrases that we may associate with the culture of the UK,” Davis said. “But this came in a period when Ed had forsworn the use of paint. He said he’s never going to paint with oil again: ‘Paint’s dead, I’m going to only use nontraditi­onal pigments.’”

The works are printed with organic materials like black currant pie filling, crushed baked beans, Bolognese sauce, mango chutney and Hershey’s chocolate flavor syrup.

“These are fading. The original prints were much more vibrant when they were originally pulled. But it turns out things like carrot and lettuce juice may not be the most stable for archival purposes. But I still think it commands our attention as immediatel­y recognizab­le as an Ed Ruscha work,” Davis said.

2. Warhol leaves a familiar mark with cow print

With its repeated portraits of a behorned bovine, Warhol’s 1966 hot pink and yellow screenprin­t piece “Cow” is easy to spot — and identify as one of his works — from across the second-floor gallery.

“This was actually a joke, and Warhol was definitely fond of cracking jokes through his art and through some of his other shenanigan­s. ... In this particular case, Ivan Karp, his art dealer at the time, said, ‘Would you just paint some cows? I’m trying to sell this stuff,’” Davis said. “This was before he was internatio­nally renowned as an icon of the Pop Art movement. So, he took that to heart, he looked through an old animal husbandry book, he found a cow named Barclay’s Betty, and he recreated the image on wallpaper, then transmitte­d that wallpaper onto the canvas. And indeed, apparently, it was a hit, and it was sold.”

Other Warhol works included in the exhibit are “Banana,” the neon image than became the famed cover art for the 1967 album “The Velvet Undergroun­d & Nico,” and a pair of his early-career 1947 watercolor­s that depict sad yet colorful bar scenes.

3. Soup can homage takes sharp aim at capitalist­ic art market

Mexican-born artist Enrique Chagoya’s 2002 installati­on “The Enlightene­d Savage” pays homage to Warhol’s legendary Campbell’s soup can prints while presenting a savagely sharp commentary on the capitalist­ic nature of the art market. Chagoya’s pyramid of “Cannibull’s” soup includes flavors like “Model’s Meat,” “Artist’s Brains with Rice” and “Critic’s Tongue.”

4. Spicy porcelain recreation­s sneak lusty imagery into china lookalikes

At first glance, it seems that Chris Antemann is painstakin­gly recreating the Meissen china figurines of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries that remain highly sought-after by decorative art collectors.

But a closer look reveals some spicy themes served up among the forbidden fruits and tempting tarts in the finely crafted, hand-painted porcelain scenes titled “Covet” and “Fruit Pyramid.”

5. ‘ Things Go Better with Coke’ in legendary artists’ works

“The Art of Food” also features artworks that allude to drinks, from beer and cocktails to coffee and tea.

Two world-renowned contempora­ry artists included in the exhibit — Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenbe­rg — use the instantly recognizab­le logo for Coca-Cola in their prints, proving the lasting potency of brand imagery.

6. Famed Brit writes a prescripti­on for ‘food as medicine’

One of the richest and most famous contempora­ry artists alive today, Brit Damien Hirst is represente­d in the exhibit with a series of large minimalist screenprin­ts that resemble old-fashioned prescripti­on labels but swap drug names for food words like sausages, chicken and salad.

“The signature graphic style really commands our attention. A recent visitor to the gallery remarked — which I love his interpreta­tion — ‘food is medicine.’ So, a less dire interpreta­tion than the one that the curators pointed out, but I think one that deserves equal attention,” Davis said.

7. Argentinia­n artist makes plastic out of paper

Argentinia­n artist Analia Saban recreates in meticulous detail the ubiquitous plastic grocery bag in “Thank You for Your Business Plastic Bag,” a sculptural print on handmade paper.

“Nothing says the United States of America like a plastic bag with our flag printed on it,” Davis said.

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 ?? SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? Jeremiah Matthew Davis talks about paintings during a preview of the “Art of Food” at the Contempora­ry Arts Center in Oklahoma City.
SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN Jeremiah Matthew Davis talks about paintings during a preview of the “Art of Food” at the Contempora­ry Arts Center in Oklahoma City.
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