"Cornucopia Incorporated" Will Make You Hungry For More

There's nothing new about mixing food with art; we all like a good nosh with our art shows. Randall Kallinen of Kallinen Contemporary art gallery had something different in mind when he thought about the food to serve at his current exhibition; Kallinen wanted the food to be the art and vice versa. The outcome of this culinary creation is the new showcase "Cornucopia Incorporated: A Food Related Event," which opened this Saturday, August 4.

Kallinen, along with curator Paul Hartman, invited more than 50 artists to submit their work to the exhibition. Each piece captures the essence of Kallinen's guidelines of relating to "food and/or eating" in some way or another. The weekend's opening reception included a juried panel of "celebrity judges" that chose their favorite pieces from the collection.

The judges included Paper City magazine's Fine Arts Editor, Catherine Anspon; award-winning Texas artist Bert L. Long Jr.; and one of ARTnews magazine's "Top 200 Collectors in the World," Lester Marks. The panel chose seven artists in total. The winning artists will be favored with a "winners only" exhibition sometime next year. Based on the vast size of the gallery, the amount of wall space that these artists will be privy to most certainly counts as a prize.

The collection is a vast array of mediums, including seven different installation pieces, each relating to food or drink. Each artist has taken the concept in a completely different direction, though, and not one piece of work felt trite. For the most part, each work was created specifically for this show.

Some of the works are vast in size and feel. Artist Solomon Kane, one of the seven winners, has created the largest piece of his career, a Latin-influenced shrine to provisions, of sorts, surrounded by both life and death.

Pop culture was a big influence for many. Artist Eric Harker's Alice in Wonderland-themed shadow box stood out amongst the collection. The well-known face of Disney's Alice gazes longingly at an assortment of inviting edibles and potions. Ominous white hands lure her with poisons and delicious-looking cakes. Behind Alice, the scenery is dark and frightening; a ball of red fire threatens to pull the world into its temptations.

Other artists showcased in the collection include well-known names in and out of Houston such as Daniel Johnston, Catfish Perez and Dandee Warhol, as well as newcomers such as Kallinen himself.

Kallinen, in addition to owning the gallery, is an artist with several pieces in this current collection. He is new to the art world, with the passion and enthusiasm of a veritable "newbie." His love of art is undeniable and it comes through as he describes the manner in which this show's concept came to him. Kallinen has a relationship with food, one that used to be very negative. He recently lost the body weight of a small person, a feat which he is, and should be, very proud of.

He has since developed something that he calls the "New Food Romanticism." The idea behind his "movement" is for people to progress their associations with food in a positive direction. Rather than celebrating holidays and good times with cakes and sweets, Kallinen thinks we should party with "carrot salads." Given this country's obesity epidemic, Kallinen's mission is a relevant one.

As a whole, "Cornucopia Incorporated" is a collection of many concepts, whimsical and colorful, dark and depressing, smart and sophisticated and delicious and disgusting. You will leave the show completely satisfied and worrying that you might have over-consumed -- just like with a good meal.

"Cornucopia Incorporated" is on display at Kallinen Contemporary through the end of September. The gallery is located at 511 Broadway, with open hours on Saturday and Sunday 3-6 p.m. or by calling 713-320-3785 for an appointment.

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