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Food for Thought

By Lora Arduser · March 19th, 2008 · The Nosh Pit
I missed the opening night of the Art of Food exhibit at the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center in Covington (1028 Scott St.), but since the exhibit runs through March 28, I thought I'd have a look. I was curious: Would it be like the fly-infested food art of Rex the Runt or something a little more "traditional" like Andy Warhol's Campbell soup cans from the 1960s?

The Carnegie itself isn't what I expected. With five art galleries, a magnificent, newly renovated turn-of-the-century theatre and a newer education center, it's the largest arts venue in Northern Kentucky. The building, which was originally a library, is gorgeous with winding staircases and a circular balcony covered by an amber glass dome that looks over the main floor. I guess the name and the architecture made me expect something a little more formal, but it seems to run like an organization of volunteers people with good intentions, way too much to do and too little money to do it with.

There are no docents, no guest book and no tours. After awkwardly standing around for a few minutes I secretly began to appreciate being able to slip in unnoticed to play voyeur.

I wandered past the sculpture called Jewish Penicillin (a big bowl of chicken soup) designed by Artrageous Desserts and through the three main exhibits what I'll call the meat room, the Celebration Table and the Birthday Cake room.

The meat room featured the paintings of John Wolfers. His father was a butcher, and this explains a lot. The paintings play on advertisements from the 1940s and '50s and feature big cuts of red meat juxtaposed with drawings of women and men (or just their heads) and slogans such as, "She buys meat with her eyes." The text that accompanies the exhibit talks about the importance of meat as a metaphor in our society for life, death, wealth, hunger, gluttony and family. I couldn't agree more as I move past a canvas full of wiggling worms of ground beef.

The Celebration Table exhibit features a place setting designed by a separate artist for holidays. The table includes the winter solstice, Black Friday and Derby Day as well as your more traditional holidays like Christmas. And the Birthday room, with cakes decorated with everything from frogs to swans, is a joyous salute to a tradition that celebrates each of us as individuals.

And while I enjoyed all the rooms, my favorite exhibit was a line of photos along the hallway on the first floor as you first walk in. The photos, by Ryan Kurtz, are paired close-ups of the inside and outside of food objects. The pitted flesh of limes and oranges are preceding slices of translucent, dewy flesh. A package of chicken feet leads you to a disturbing solo shot of one foot positioned much like a shriveled human hand against a black background the claws on the foot reminiscent of an old woman's long nails. David Lynch would like this.

Side Dish
Market Wines, a new wine shop at Findlay Market, opens on March 29. Owner Michael Maxwell decided the time was right for Findlay Market to support an independent wine shop. He plans to stock a little bit of everything, including organic wines and especially those that pair well with food. In addition to fine wines, Market Wines will also stock a selection of micro-brewed and imported beers and wine accessories. The shop will also hold monthly wine tastings. Market Wines is located at 128 W. Elder St., directly across from the main Market building. 513-744-9888. ... Otto's in Covington is having a beer dinner at 6 p.m. April 8. They will be pairing their own dishes with all of the beers from the Magic Hat Brewery's most recent seasonal sampler, Pandora's Box. Beers will include #9, Circus Boy, hI.P.A. and the spring Odd Notion, an Irish Red Ale. The dinner starts at 6 p.m. and reservations can be made at 859-491-6678.

E-MAIL DINING NEWS AND TIPS: larduser@citybeat.com



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