with images from the exhibition
Sweets are the
stuff of childhood memories and fantasies. Often associated with
celebrations, they are inherently optimistic. Delicious and sensual,
sweets are also a locus of desire, pleasure, excess, and guiltall
explored by the work in this exhibition. Sugar Buzz features twenty-eight
artists whose work deals with sweets either in its imagery or as
its medium. In this exhibition the artists have used a variety of
strategies all with an element of humor, irony or whimsy.
The exhibition, curated by Susan Hoeltzel with Nina Sundell, includes
photography, video, drawing, painting, sculpture, artists
books, textiles, and installations, completed since 2000.
Canadian artist Shelley Miller applies intricately detailed architectural
elements to building exteriors. Her monumental embellishments, presented
here as documentary photographs of installations in Canada and Brazil,
wash away over time in the rain and snow. In Brazil richly detailed
Portuguese tiles are added to a house. In one of the photographs
children taste the sweets. In Montreal faux columns and cornices
are combined with decorative patterns outlining the buildings
graffiti, subverting its intent.
Maggy Rozycki Hilter offers a moral tale of overindulgence in her
hand-stitched textile with cute children, animals, cakes, and candies.
Her thirteen-foot embroidery includes found textiles
from old tablecloths and doilies as well as those stitched by the
artist and her mother. It is a story told in multiple vignettes
that suggest temptations and their consequences. Excess is also
a theme in the work of Milton Rosa-Ortiz. His Gula (gluttony),
an allegorical reference to one of the Seven Deadly Sins, hangs
like a chimera. Its chalice-like form is created with hundreds of
suspended sugar cubes.
Becca Albee humorously alludes to the history of art in her homage
to Robert Smithsons Spiral Jetty made from fragrant
cakes, as does Andy Yoder in his large-scale Pipe made
of licorice that references René Magrittes Ceci
nest pas une pipe. The seven-foot pipe is also connected
for Yoder with memories of his father. Its surface is richly textured
with patterns made by long Twizzlers and shorter licorice stubs.
Albees cakes are also connected to childhood memories of family
and cooking. Her cakes for this installation were baked with the
help of her mother.
Dana K. Sherwoods book, Confektion: The Sweet Allure
of Entrapment, is opened to a page with a compressed yellow
cupcake surrounded by dead bees. On the opposite page the cupcake
and bugs are described in a brief text and a whimsical drawing.
Throughout the book, packaged confections from Twinkies to HoHos
are paired with insects that include leopard flies, hornets, beetles,
and ants. In terms of the Magritte, the cakes with bugs, the drawings,
and the text are the pipe and not the pipe. They offer
deadpan humor and musings on seduction and death.
Language is pivotal to the work of several of the artists. Words
are employed to convey the sense of taste in John Boones four
paintings from the Taste Suite series. Each canvas with
a single word, Sweet, Sour, Bitter,
and Salty, against a vivid red background, offers a
conceptual construct for exploring flavor. Karen Shaw, an artist
whose work frequently is language-based, offers a kitchen cabinet
with a range of products. Their brands, all with celestial references,
glow in the dark under a black light among them Milky Way
and Mars bars, Moon pies, and Starbursts.
It is the phrase sweetening the bat, that is essential
to understanding Freddy Rodriguezs Our Man: Homage to
Sammy Sosa. (The phrase alludes to tampering with a baseball bat
to make a ball go farther.) Rodriguezs installation addresses
the controversy over Sosas altered bat. In the installation
a crystal clear, glass bat suggests transparency and fragility.
The bat hangs over a mound of sugar, a reference to the term sweetening
the bat as well as to the major export of the Dominican Republic.
Larger than life and suggesting the human form, Emily Eveleths
sensuous jelly donuts depict one of Americas most ubiquitous
morning foods. For over ten years Eveleth has made donuts her subject.
In Repose the donuts are cropped and dramatically lighted
against a dark ground. Their fleshy forms slouch against one another
with jelly oozing.
Julie Allens soft sculptures, a wedding and a birthday cake,
also suggest human flesh. Their sags, bulges, and protuberances
are made from deflated balloons. Jenny Kanzlers traditionally
rendered, oil on panel cakes Tonsillitis, Infection,
and Growth are anthropomorphized in unexpected
ways. Their diseases and abnormalities make them less than perfect
icons of domesticity and give them human qualities.
Amy Millers I Do, a large-scale slice of wedding
cake sitting on an eight-foot doily, is convincingly rendered in
foam and resin. The work offers multiple readings a humorous
double entendre and a coming together of equals. The decorative
rosebuds on the cake are created with a very large, electrically
powered pastry bag fabricated by the artist.
Yoshiko Kanai's process-based work Sugar Table/Communication,
includes a cast sugar table and sugar vessels placed on a tatami
mat that suggest a Japanese tea ceremony. In performance the artist
and audience members will pour green tea, representing the East,
and Coke, representing the West, into the containers, transforming
and eroding the table and vessels.
Iconic images of museums the Louvre, the Met, the Whitney,
and the Guggenheim are burnt into a surface of cast sugar
and Splenda in the work of Mark McLeod. Intended to evolve over
time, the caramelized images display a soft, sfumato edge.
Sugar is also the medium of Rebecca Hollands site-specific,
minimalist installation Crush. First melted, then cast
and crushed, the candy stretches for fourteen feet along a glass
wall. Its jewel-like yellow/green color appears to glow from within.
The work is created with approximately 50 lbs of candy.
Eight thousand candy wrappers those from candy consumed by
the artist and her friends or found on the street create
a monumental cascade of color and light in Luisa Caldwells
Color Falls. Twenty-one feet high, its excess
is dazzling as the cellophane gently moves in drafts of air.
Twist ties, sponges, pantyhose, cotton balls, matchsticks, hair
curlers the stuff of daily life are the materials
used to produce a variety of tasty delights in Vadis Turners
large-scale installation and vitrine filled with sweets. In the
former, chocolates made from pantyhose and fillings made of foam,
spools of thread, buttons, and paper clips, spell out the work yuck.
Tracy Miller, Sara Sill, and Lucy Fradkin offer tables laden with
confections. Sara Sills photo-based images show the excess
of Parisian pastry and tableware shops with their prices displayed
in euros. These paintings combine photography, collage, image transfer,
and paint. Lucy Fradkin has placed her pies and cakes to best advantage
on a tilted tabletop in front of an open window with migrating birds
outside in Heading South. Tracy Millers exuberant
displays seem to transmute from cakes, pastries, champagne and beer
into colorful painterly marks. With tables filled to excess, it
appears to be a party in progress with a good time being had by
Pamelas Hadfields photographs are staged on an implied
tabletop in which birthday celebrations take on a new meaning. In
Great Escape and Bang her festive cakes
double as battlefields with compete with explosive sparklers, combat
troops, tanks and helicopters. Their intense saturated colors reinforce
the meaning of both events.
The commercial aspect of Valentines Day is layered with class
signifiers in Jessica Edith Schwinds paired photographs Love
Peddler II. The effect of the packaged candy display, with
hearts and teddy bears, provides a sobering contrast to the warmth
and sentiment of the day.
Mary Magsamen & Stephan Hillerbrands video air-hunger
explores trust and boundaries as a couple blow and share bubble
gum. Filmed in the lobby of the Woolworth Building in New York City,
the majestic ceiling is almost cathedral-like. The sounds of breathing,
bubbles being blown, and gum chewing fill the room. The title alludes
to a medical condition associated with diabetic coma.
Matthew Neffs barely perceptible silk-screened images of a
chandelier in La morte equise Sugar Chandelier
and of moths in I wear black on the outside because black
is how I feel on the inside, are created with sugar that glitters
in these white on white compositions. The images are made with transparent
varnish that is silk-screened to the paper. Sugar is added, like
flocking, and adheres to the wet varnish.
is also a means of alluding to sweets with form, materials or process
suggesting confections. In Gina Occhiogrossos acrylics on
canvas, thick pastel-colored paints are applied as if by a cake
decorator, a job she had once had. These lush surfaces make a connection
between the physicality and seductive qualities of both frosting
and paint. In a similar vein, Lynda Rays chevrons of lush,
translucent encaustics suggest layer cakes. She describes the process
of heating the beeswax, resin, and pigments as similar to cooking,
complete with fragrant aromas.