The Artistic Side of Food

The Artistic Side of Food
PHOTOS COURTESY OF "AT THE TABLE" EXHIBIT AT THE ARMORY CENTER OF THE ARTS AND LA PLAZA COCINA

There are so many things that make life in SoCal "Suite." For many, the love of art, and the opportunity to visit an abundance of unique exhibits in our beautiful region has been a regular occurrence until recent years when the pandemic forced special events to be nonexistent due to hundreds of locations having to close their doors. As what we would like to call "a normal life" returns, many galleries throughout Southern California are excited to open their doors after a couple of years of frustration. With a rejuvenated spirit and innovative ideas to spark the interest of art lovers, we find an assortment of somewhat unusual exhibits featuring a flavorful twist—food.

Food Art Exhibits have exploded in recent years as several galleries have paired with various artists to create expos that combine the love of art and the love of food. One of the most popular and recent is the new exhibition called "At the Table." The exhibit is a collection of LA artists who explored ways the pandemic challenged Angelinos to find new ways to understand what's essential while evolving under new guidelines set forth by the state of California and the city of Los Angeles. 

This group exhibition opened at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA, on June 29, 2022, and highlighted works inspired by or made with food items. From cultural connection to therapeutic benefit, several artists chose to use this as an opportunity to dive into different ways everyday commodities have been revitalized in the food world. The exhibition consisted of art exhibits with the sole purpose of giving back. Some gallery attendees had the opportunity to participate in interactive workshops that allowed them to donate food to on-site community pantries. 

When asked, "how does food become your passion?" Artist "Yeu Nguyen" of Alhambra, featured at the July "At the Table" event, stated that food is the key to unlocking memories and emotions. Ngyuen expanded in an interview, saying, "Childhood moments spent helping your grandmother in the kitchen, the sublime smell of your favorite dish, and the last meal you shared with family before lockdown." 

Nguyen will have workshops where visitors can create fabric dumplings, stuff them with written accounts of their feelings, and contribute them to her interactive sculptural work, "Emotional Dumplings." (LA Times). Their next “At the Table” exhibit will be Sunday, December 4, 2022, at Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103.

Food takes center stage at other exhibits, especially at LA Plaza Cocina. LA Plaza Cocina is a unique space that honors the history and diversity of Mexican cuisine. It displays and traces the history of Mexico's food and cooking culture from its indigenous roots of the Mesoamerican era to its contemporary adaptations. Their exhibits explore the contribution of Mexican dishes to world cuisine and highlight the cooking styles of local Mexican chefs.

"The voices of Mexican and Mexican-American women abuelitas (grandmothers) are amplified in this exhibition, featuring a group of indigenous, mestiza, Mexican-American, and Afro-Mexican grandmothers. These women have cooked, preserved, and passed on Mexican food culture while creating communities and cultures unique to Southern California," states LA Plaza Cocina's website. They've also created a documentary film that includes stories, family recipes, and dives deep into the abuela's relationship to Mexican cuisine, their birthplaces in Mexico, and the city of Los Angeles, making this one of the main exhibits reflecting the taste of Southern California. Besides, everyone knows California has the best Mexican food north of the border.

The themes of identity, place and food culture are central to this exhibit as they explore a variety of dishes synonymous with the city of Angels: chiles en nogada, mole, tamales, pozole, mixiotes, enchiladas, and more, reflecting the multitude of origins and culinary traditions of Mexican immigrant groups, and the grandmothers' everyday struggles as Mexican-American citizens. In addition to recipes, this exhibit allows attendees to learn more of the migration stories of the grandmothers who paved the way for some of our home's favorite meals that we all make today, whether you're of Mexican descent or not.

In addition to the Food and Art exhibits highlighted above, we've taken the time to list a few others that are taking place this fall in various areas:

As you see, you've been missing out on plenty in the merged world of art and food. Some of these events happen annually, allowing creators and enthusiasts to combine their love for taste, literally and figuratively. It's an honor to share some of these hidden jewels with our Suite Life SoCal family. Make sure to subscribe to keep up with the latest news in the ever-evolving Los Angeles food and art scene, and if you have some fresh ideas that merge food and art or know of some exhibits we forgot to mention, send us that info. Who knows, perhaps you'll start the next uniquely artistic food journey we proud citizens of Los Angeles can enjoy. Until next time, stay "Suite," ladies and gents.

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