The Lexington Art League's summer exhibit features food-inspired art pieces that look good enough to taste ... or even throw.
The Art League and CRAVE Lexington will pair to present FEAST Fourth Friday Food Fight, a fusion of food-inspired art, art-inspired food and "the biggest food fight in Lexington," says Victoria Benson, event coordinator for the Art League.
The interactive art experience will allow patrons to view the art exhibit and sample dishes from local chefs inspired by the art, as well as spray, splash and sling over-ripe produce at other willing attendees in an outdoor food fight.
The Lexington Art League encourages guests to wear all white so everyone leaves as walking canvases.
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Good Foods Co-op and The Weekly Juicery will turn over gleaned produce no longer safe for consumption, which they will soften into a pulp to make the experience "like dodgeball without the pain," says Benson.
The Art League will group guests who wish to participate into six different groups. Once a group is called and the horn signals, fighters can commence to throw food.
The food fight will take place within the boundaries of four white tarps strung out in the courtyard of the Lexington Art League's headquarters at the Loudoun House.
Before the evening, food fight guests can peruse the art exhibit, FEAST: Pleasure + Hunger + Ritual, and enjoy treats from local chefs inspired by pieces in the show.
The art exhibit features work from 34 local, national and international artists, which explore diverse perspectives on food and eating in the context of issues such as religion, politics, emotion and cultural norms and values.
The pieces range from oil on canvas to pottery to HD video, each combining to form a "relatable and lighthearted" theme overall, Benson says.
A photo series by artist Jeannine Shinoda features hot dogs shaped like balloon animal dogs posing coyly on a bun or hanging pierced by a metal hook. Artist Ryan Lewis depicts two massive cinnamon rolls dripping with sugary cream in a watercolor painting.
Four chefs chosen by CRAVE Lexington, an annual food and music festival set for Aug. 22 and 23 at Masterson Station Park, each picked an art piece in the show to inspire a menu of items ranging from $1 to $5 for guests to sample.
The chefs' dishes will allow guests to engage with the art on another level, says Robbie Morgan, director of CRAVE Lexington.
"You can stand and look at [art] with your arms behind your back, but this makes it tangible," she says.
A photograph of leafy asparagus heads by Sarah Jane Sanders drove Chef Janey Thompson from Dupree Catering to create a dish of asparagus flan with heirloom tomato tartar, house pistachio, parm crackers and crispy shiitakes.
Thompson will also include a dessert of sweet potato pancakes with spiced pecan caramel and optional candied bacon.
Morgan chose the four chefs for their diversity, style and heritage.
Each chef approaches cuisine differently, and their menu either draws from their chosen art piece in a literal or abstract way, Morgan says.
Chef Latrice Webster from Wilson Family Catering will create a sweet potato pie based on a photo of sweet potatoes spilling out of a can by Amy Kim.
More abstractly, Craig Devilliers of Graze Market & Cafe based his chicken curry on rice with green onions, coconut, bananas, tomato, onion and "relish" on a textile piece titled Last (Church) Supper by Jennifer Reis, which features haloed deer and chickens surrounded by cherubs on a grassy backdrop.
The Lexington Art League recently revived its Fourth Friday parties after more than a year off. It will hold a free community picnic next month in July.
The food fight will connect with people the Lexington Art League has never previously reached, who are interested in food and a fun time, Benson says. "It's unique to anything we've ever done before and there's not another event like this."