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Artists in the Kitchen

Updated: May 17, 2022

Artist's Kitchen, 2018

By Jecek Yerka

Mixed media

Summer Kitchen, 2018

By Jecek Yerka

Mixed media

Confusion in the Kitchen, 2019

By Jecek Yerka

Mixed media

Just about everyone reading this has been to my house. And if you’ve been to my house, you also know my dedicated station is in my kitchen. My dinky little galley kitchen. Well, in all fairness, my whole house is small, but only in square footage. It's much bigger when it comes to love and welcoming others to our home. Our closest friends and family have all packed into our abode to party, laugh, share stories, and of course, eat. I know my way around the kitchen, which isn’t hard because it’s two steps in either direction; we’ll get to that in a moment. Then there’s my wife, Shannon’s, prowess to bake. Mastering decadent cakes with fresh fruit and hand-crafted fillings. Like the process of an artist, it could take a whole weekend to produce exactly the thing she imagined in cake form. She’s from an Italian family and I’m Puerto Rican, meaning, if you don’t eat when you come into my home, it’s a direct offense. The most prominent language of love in my household is spoken through food and its preparation.

The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012

By Greyson Perry

Acrylic, polyester, wool, silk, tapestry, 78" x 157"

It's a pretty easy to compare art and cooking. The level of creativity and confident execution with chosen elements are similar. Like making art, cooking has an array of tools and techniques which can lead you in countless directions. So, your working space is important in relation to your craft. I’ve been to homes with large kitchens, fancy appliances and a ridiculous expanse of counter space, yet, they don’t cook! They’re in culinary second gear. Basic meat and potatoes, an occasional lasagna are all they’re capable of. Beware of false idols. It’s like having a Ferrari that you only drive to the supermarket, or having a four-wheel drive heavy duty truck that you slowdown in when you come to a bump in the road.

Patssi Kitchen, 2000

By Patssi Valdez

Gouache on watercolor paper, 18" x 24"

Needless to say, I’ve worked my dinky little kitchen’s ass off. In the 24 years I’ve toiled in that galley, we’ve hosted a wedding, marriage vow renewal, graduations and countless holidays birthdays and landmark events. We’ve mastered catering everything from full on taco bars and pasta primavera dinners to a complete 5 course dinner service for 25. We've had carnival inspired menus with brick oven pizzas and beer battered vegetables and caramel apple empanadas. We’ve hosted little gatherings with huge kettles of homemade chili with your choice of vehicles, from cheddar bake potatoes to jumbo dogs (veggie) and spaghetti. Don’t get me started if I get the frier out! That results in dozens of empanadas, spaghetti, onion rings, zucchini fries and cauliflower wings, just to name a few.

The Kitchen Maid, 1658

By Johannes Vermeer

Oil on canvas, 17" x 13"

So alas, the crux of this post. In a week or so, we begin a kitchen overhaul. A remodel that is decades in the making. Our little ranch home was built in the mid 1950’s, right after WWII. The small homes in our area were meant as starter homes for those returning from the war looking to settle down and return to family life. The rooms are small and few because these homes weren’t intended to be final destinations but rather a transition to to the next step. Thus, the kitchens were small and cramped. Ample if you were a family two or three, with a small child. Well, this is our landing spot. As I always looked upon the horizon, dreaming of a bigger house, my wife and both boys never wanted to go anywhere else, so this is where we've nested.

While we’ve updated just about everything in the house, this is the first real knock down walls, replace everything kind of project. Your life is where it takes you, and that’s where you find your purpose. Well, mine seems to be in a studio and the kitchen where my tools are as interchangeable as a paint brush with a spatula or a canvas with a frying pan.

Kitchen (Installation), 1999

By Liza Lou

Mixed media

Untitled, 2015

By Patricia Sabree

Acrylic on canvas

The plan consists of doubling the amount of counter space by removing the wall between the dining room and kitchen creating a more open floor plan. The project will yield all new cabinets and more of them. I spent a good portion of my day yesterday cleaning and inspecting our grill. The grill may be the primary source of any cooked food for the next month (or more?). I’ve got no problem with that for the most part. As mentioned, I’ve got a ceramic brick oven that goes with the grill and I’ve got a couple of high-end deep fryers, probably not the healthiest method of preparing a meal, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s the other kitchen functions that’ll prove challenging. Cutting vegetables or simply cleaning dishes or pans, it’ll be like camping in your own backyard. Inconveniences for the greater good so I won’t complain…that much.

The Last Supper, 1495

By Leonardo Di' Vinci

Plaster and tempra

Nighthawks, 1942

By Edward Hopper

Oil on Canvas, 33" x 60"

To bring this back around to art, food and those who gather to enjoy how it’s prepared, is a classic theme in art history. From Leonardo Di ’Vinci’s Last Supper to Hopper’s Nighthawks and so many in between, how we convene for meals tells us a lot about our cultural habits and traditions. Paintings of how those meals are prepared are also viable subjects within historical relevance. Think about some of the most recognizable paintings in history, they are about food and folks eating. The very inception of the art itself was conceived as the artist was dining and drinking. Whether it was a celebrated artist holding court with their entourage on the Champ Elysees in Paris or the quiet dude in a dimly lit Dutch café feverously drawing sketches of the other patrons, art was being contemplated while having a bite.

I’ve collected some examples of paintings that highlight my point. Keeping this month’s post short and sweet, because in two weeks this laptop may have to double as a cutting board.

The Grand Harvest Country Kitchen, 2018

By Richard T Pranke

Oil on canvas

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1 Comment

Bobby Padilla
Bobby Padilla
Jun 17, 2022

I'm ready for a new kitchen!

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