In the summer of 1996, I taught conversational English in China for the second time in three years. I worked in Guangdong Province, a region famous throughout the world for its cuisine. There I was struck by the Chinese obsession with good food, as well as the restaurant displays advertising it.
There’s a popular joke throughout China about the Cantonese--that they will eat anything with legs except the dining table. Chinese cuisine is the oldest in the world, a reason, perhaps, for its extraordinary variety. Besides vegetables, fruits, pork, and poultry, markets in Guangzhou (Canton) sell snake, insects, toads, peacocks and yes, dogs and cats. A typical supper consists of five or six courses: soup, vegetable, meats and seafoods. On the coast of the South China Sea, the seafood is remarkable for its taste, texture and color. I am intrigued with the food and the people who prepare it.
Cantonese food tempts the senses with tantalizing aromas, textures, and flavors. Restaurants often show off their specialties in glass cases or on long counters; many display the actual food, while others use realistic plastic replicas or photographs. Bright colors--especially fluorescents--and metallic surfaces such as silver and gold on menus, signs, and posters, create spectacular surroundings for eating. The contrast between the food and the colors advertising it achieves a kind of exotic harmony that is art.
All subject matter is from Hong Kong, South China, and Zanzibar. All photographs were shot at night with high speed film and laser printed. These were then dry mounted onto gatorboard and lined off with metallic tape. The small paintings (attached to the photographs) were framed and then bolted to the gator board.
1996 Brownsboro Gallery, Louisville, Kentucky U.S.A.
Brownsboro Gallery was a for-profit gallery which closed in 1999. Brownsboro Gallery artists were on a three year rotation and Auspicious Consumption was my second time around. The self determined subject was Chinese food and the people who eat and make it. I had just returned from my second summer teaching English in China and I had been eating the best Chinese food of my life, three times a day. This was in Shantou, a Special Economic Zone on the south coast. Lobster, calamari, fish, clams, greens, you name it. This was Cantonese territory and everything was considered edible. But I digress. This show was difficult to produce as I had to force myself to make aesthetic decisions which went against my better judgment. For example, using colors like pink and fluorescent orange and using silver and gold metallic surfaces. In the end I grew to appreciate and respect this contemporary Chinese esthetic and I am grateful to have added this new research and information to my repertoire.
*Gallery dealer, Leslie Spetz, peer-reviewed this work at my studio and accepted it for exhibition.
1997 Harlan Gallery, Seton Hill College, Take Out, Greensburg, PA, U.S.A.
Seton Hill is a private Catholic Women’s college with an enrollment of 1,000 students. Although the college is small, the art department is one of largest departments on campus with five programs of study and seven full-time faculty. The Harlan Gallery is a large space which exhibits artists from the U.S. and abroad. For this show I transported my complete Auspicious Consumption exhibition by van. I also took four seniors on the trip and together we went to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water.
*Gallery director, Assistant Professor of Art, Carol R. Brode, peer-reviewed this work via portfolio and accepted it for exhibition.