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Food Art: It's What's for Dinner in LA

A James Beard Award-winning chef curated this food art exhibition, so you know it’s good.
Still Life of Meats with Taker, Charlie White, 2014. Courtesy of Charlie White, Francois Ghebaly, and M+B Gallery

Burgers, eggs, pork, cabbage, grapes, bread… The whole food pyramid is represented in PLEASE HAVE ENOUGH ACID IN THE DISH!, an ongoing  group exhibition at Los Angeles’ M+B Gallery. Rather than enlisting a proven curator for the job, the show has been organized by award-winning chef Vinny Dotolo, the creative force behind LA restaurants like Jon & Vinny’s, Animal, and Son of a Gun. But perhaps this curatorial decision is appropriate; the exhibition’s menagerie of sculptures, paintings, drawings, and videos all engage with food in some way or another, more often than not, functioning as central visual elements to the work.

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Installation View of PLEASE HAVE ENOUGH ACID IN THE DISH!, 2016. Photo by Ed Mumford

Normally operating out of the kitchen, this is Dotolo’ first curatorial endeavor—an ambitious one at that, considering the enormous roster of 37 LA-based artists boasts names like Ed Ruscha, Jonas Wood, and Awol Erizku. But the vast scale of the show is less intimidating in light of the thematic specificity: “The focus was solely on Los Angeles because that’s the city we are all in and wanted to represent. It also gave us parameters and boundaries to work within, which helps the creative process,” Dotolo tells The Creators Project. The restaurateur seems to have encountered few issues throughout the process. He adds, “The experience has been amazing from start to finish. It has brought me even closer to the art world, and I’ve met some amazing new people and artists during the process.”

Frazed to Escape the Dinn Up the Hill Moved Passed the Spill Bye Bye Oh No Times Moves Too Slow Slow Who Are You I Say Hi (How to Leave with a Smile), Marisa Takal, 2016. Photo courtesy of Marisa Takal, Night Gallery, and M+B Gallery

It’s somewhat disarming to enter a gallery room with artistic representations of food in every corner. While food and art have a relationship that extends throughout history, whether thinking of Warhol’s soup cans or the bountiful still lives of Cézanne, they are often incidental parts of the works, albeit generally important as reference points. Yet in PLEASE HAVE ENOUGH ACID IN THE DISH!, food is at the forefront; each work may have a purpose or a function beyond the chow shown, but their collective union directs the viewer’s attention to the grub above all else.

quarter pounder, no color, Charles Ray, 2010. Photo courtesy of Charles Ray & M+B Gallery

Perhaps this is why literal food came out during the exhibition’s opening: Dotolo served his signature green garlic bone broth, artist Ana Prvački made a special artist cocktail using kumquats from Ed Ruscha’s studio orchard, and Sean Raspet (who you may remember for his Soylent booth at Frieze New York this year) brought a series of chemically flavored waters he himself created. A limited edition artist “cookbook-zine” was also made available, including recipes by Ruscha, Harold Ancart, Samara Golden, and Josh Mannis.

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Chili Fries Without a Face, Eric Yahnker, 2011. Photo courtesy of Eric Yahnker & M+B Gallery

Although it would be tough to argue that the exhibition brought down barriers between art and food, since the two have been pals throughout history, PLEASE HAVE ENOUGH ACID IN THE DISH! certainly centralizes the function of food in artwork, emphasizing edible goods as intellectual and creative curiosities, rather than merely incidental subject matter.

In Freddy’s room (study), Friedrich Kunath, 2016. Photo courtesy of Friedrich Kunath, Blum & Poe, & M+B Gallery

Fish for the Dog (Half double bed), Max Mslansky, 2016. Photo courtesy of Max Maslansky, Five Car Carage, & M+B Gallery

PLEASE HAVE ENOUGH ACID IN THE DISH! is on view until September 2 of this year, but documentation of M+B Gallery’s show can be found here.

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