It only takes the distance of a few blocks to leave the orbit of Broadway’s activity: the clamor and clinking of glasses heard a mere earshot from bar fronts, the seemingly endless line spilling out of Molly Moon’s on Pine, the congregation of parkgoers at Cal Anderson. When you cross 12th Avenue heading east you’ve arrived, suddenly, in the quieter part of Capitol Hill, the part forgotten by those who only visit the neighborhood for a taste of its louder eccentricities.
A little further still brings you to the quaint brick building that houses Jeremy Buben’s one-bedroom apartment. On display: a large fork and spoon sculpture, crossed like a coat of arms next to a cast resin cheeseburger that lights up. Such are the works you’d see at Buben’s place, where he’s curated a cache of food-themed art.
Starting May 27, Buben, the sole curator of FoodArt Collection will open the door to his home for a new series of exhibitions dubbed Sunday Salon.
For the new art series, Buben commissions one artist per Sunday afternoon from about 2 to 5, during which food-themed art is on display at the free, public show. His apartment also doubles as a gallery for his personal collection of this particular kind of art, which will remain up during the exhibitions—in the kitchen, the hallway, the bathroom. Of course, there will be food, possibly drink, to compliment the showings as well. Buben knows how to procure snacks for the sake of artistic experience.
Sunlight enters through a large window overlooking the building’s courtyard into Buben’s living room, or rather the main gallery, where pieces for each Sunday Salon will live. While the crisp, clean walls show no mark left from nails and tacks holding up crinkled posters of classic movies or favorite bands, the space is undoubtedly, charmingly domestic. And that’s very much the point. Buben wants to establish familiarity between viewers and a type of art so dear to him.
Food-themed art sounds niche, but it’s astonishing how artists run with it.
Buben gets excited about that capacity for experimentation. “Food as a metaphor is always kind of there. I like that food is a stand-in for something in our culture.” Zachary Pacleb, the featured artist of the first Sunday Salon, is a chef at Brothers and Co. which he runs with his brother and fellow chef Seth, creating Northwest cuisine at farmer’s markets, catering events, and beyond. As an artist, Pacleb's interest lies in the remnants of the cooking process. In continuation of his ongoing series titled LEFTOVERS, he’ll show its latest segment, Stacked, in which the artist plays with the malleability of commercial egg cartons to sculpt new shapes.
This ability to approach and resonate with our relationship to food is part of Buben’s perpetual interest in this work. And the room for creative license is apparent from the trappings of the apartment: a nude with parts shielded by pancakes and a waffle wedge, neon indicative of diners, a mold of a Cheetos bag housing an air plant.
“In my personal collection, I’m like a magpie—I’m just drawn to shiny things,” says Buben. “If it has food in it I’m like, ‘I need that.’”
As of now, shows are also scheduled for June, July, and September. Buben hopes to add more soon, rounding out to about two shows a month through the summer. In these exhibitions, art expands and enriches culinary experiences, broadening its definition. A future show, for example, will showcase work that approaches oysters from a color theory standpoint—exploring the underlying blues, greens, blacks, and grays that make such a complex palette. The idea is to pair the showing with oysters to be eaten as well, heightening a sense of taste less often engaged in visual art. Having your food and eating it too, but in earnest—sans irony and kitsch.
“I’m very optimistic that my collection will continue to grow and that there’ll be enthusiasm,” Buben says. “So far, there’s not been a shortage of fantastic and talented artists making food-themed art, so I’m just excited to see more of it.”
FoodArt Collective Sunday Salon
420 13th Ave E, 2–5pm, free
May 27, June 24, July 1 & 22, Sept 23