Learn art, eat art

| Scene Reporter

Food for Thought

Tastings 12:30 pm
Tours 1:00 pm
Workshops 1:30 – 2:30 pm.
3750 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108


It’s not rare for cultural centers to promote art in peculiar ways—the City Museum is proof of that. But it’s back to the basics for the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis (CAM), which has shown that the path to a visitor’s artistic side can, like so many other paths, be carved through the stomach.

The first Saturday of each month, the CAM hosts “Food for Thought.” This free event showcases new and ongoing exhibits, and gives visitors a chance to taste foods made by local chefs and inspired by exhibition pieces. Founded in collaboration with the Great Rivers Biennial program, a joint effort by the CAM and the Gateway Foundation to promote the St. Louis art scene, Food for Thought sets up a relaxed, half-hour slot for food tasting, a subsequent exhibit tour and, afterward, an hour-long workshop led by local artists.

According to the CAM’s public events coordinator, Alex Elmestad, food can facilitate social interaction and make people feel more receptive to an artistic experience. “Once people eat they feel more relaxed, more willing to engage in some type of a tour, a type of dialogue,” Elmestad said.

It is easy to imagine whetting your artistic appetite while satisfying a culinary one—for example, a colorful salad with raisins and oranges, a past dish featured at Food for Thought, was inspired by a polka dot piece.

Food tasting, all by its lonesome, isn’t the goal of the event, however. Elmestad compared the three stages of the event to three corresponding ways of learning. For food lovers, the composition-based similarities between food and art might stand out; for the listener, the conceptual depth of the tours might be more appealing. The hands-on element of the workshops—catered to adults especially, but open for anyone 10 and up—can educate visitors in the complexities involved in creating contemporary art.

Elmestad said that the finished works visitors are used to seeing in museums are hardly reflective of the efforts artists undertake before opening night. “There’s so much work involved in getting to that point,” he said.

Currently, the museum is showcasing Elad Lassry’s “Sum of Limited Views,” comprised of different types of framed photographs, and “Hair” by Richard Artschwager, which explores the themes of perception and deception. Laura Fried, who specializes in Lassry’s work and knows about his exploration of the photographic medium, will lead the tour. Quiche and crepes are on the menu for this Saturday’s session—influenced, according to Elmestad, by some egg-inspired artwork found within the exhibits.

The event is intimate, with a flexible 35-person cap that fills on a first-come, first-serve basis. If absorbing some cultural patrimony through the palate—and more conventional means—sounds fitting to you, then make your way downtown this Saturday and explore what the CAM has to offer. And it couldn’t come at a more perfect time, as everyone seems to be looking for that last hoorah before finals set in.

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