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Indulge your visual appetite at a presentation on food in art

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Andy Warhol
Courtesy Photo. Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can 1968
Food has been a popular subject with artists since early times.

It has been depicted within paintings, sculptures and other works in realistic forms, abstract representations and symbolic images, dating as far back as the Greco-Roman period.

An upcoming unique program at Woodinville Library invites participants to indulge their visual appetites with a survey on the theme of food in art, covering a myriad of images of cuisine through the centuries.

It’s a brand new presentation, which ties into King County Library System’s spring program focus on food.

In addition to Woodinville, the lecture will also be given at 15 other libraries in the system.

Susan Olds, a Seattle area artist, teacher, art historian and curator, is the presenter.

Olds served as the exhibitions curator for Cornish College of the Arts, Head of School at Bellevue Arts Museum and Education Director at Pratt Fine Arts Center, as well as Director of Healing Arts for Cancer Lifeline in Bellevue.

She is a frequent lecturer on art and art history at such venues as the Seattle Art Museum, Eastside Fine Artists’ Association, King County Library System, the Stroum Jewish Community Center, Tacoma Art Museum, Museo Art Academy and others.

Olds teaches several arts workshops for community organizations including artEAST, the King County Libraries, Featherstone and Cancer Lifeline at Valley Medical Center and Evergreen Hospital.

renoir after the luncheon
Courtesy Photo Renoir’s “After the Luncheon”
She is a mixed media artist who works in paper and fabric collage and her work has been exhibited at the Up Front Gallery, the East Shore Gallery, Providence Marionwood, La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum and Cancer Lifeline in Seattle.

With over 30 years in the arts arena, the local woman found it relatively easy to put together the information necessary for the class.

“I had many images in mind,” she says, “and most of the art was already familiar to me. I gathered images from favorite websites and took digital pictures from books to combine into a power point format.”

She adds, “The lecture will cover paintings and sculpture with food as the theme, as well as art made out of food.”

Included are sections that explore Adam and Eve and the apple, early Greco-Roman wall paintings, the rituals of collecting and preparing food, as well as setting the table, elaborate and humble feasts, still life painting, people and food, surreal food, food in pop culture and new creations.

“The artists will range over 3,000 years from Pompeii artists to El Greco, Arcimboldo, Jacob Jordaens, Rachel Ruysch, Caravaggio, Cezanne, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso and Andy Warhol,” says Olds.

An introduction to famous food writers such as MFK Fisher, Ruth Reichel and Julia Child will conclude the program.

Olds notes that the role of food in art has been prominent with numerous artists over the years.

“Food is something we all need to survive,” she comments. “It’s also a celebration of life and a common ritual associated with marriages, birthdays, religious celebrations, funerals, etc.”

Librarian Linda Safarli is responsible for bringing the program to Woodinville Library.

She says, “I thought it would be a good match for the patrons of the library because I think everyone is interested in food. I thought patrons would enjoy the artwork that is part of the presentation. Also, we are going to have tasty refreshments!”

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