Mouth-watering Pizza From a Wood-Fired Oven the Size of a VW

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty in historic Mississippi Avenue neighborhood of North Portland, Oregon

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty in historic Mississippi Avenue neighborhood of North Portland, Oregon

Appetizing oven-roasted asparagus with lovage salsa verde and egg

Appetizing oven-roasted asparagus with lovage salsa verde and egg

Flavorful pizza of morel mushrooms with ramps, pecorino tartufo and gremolata

Flavorful pizza of morel mushrooms with ramps, pecorino tartufo and gremolata

Classic salami pizza with Mama Lil’s sweet hot peppers, oil cured black olives & Italian oregano

Classic salami pizza with Mama Lil’s sweet hot peppers, oil cured black olives & Italian oregano

Before serving piping hot pies from their 800 degree oven, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty in Portland, Oregon was Lovely’s Hula Hands for seven years.  Owners Sarah and Jane Minnick decided to shutter Hula Hands and redirect the space into a pizza and ice cream parlor, but not for lack of success.

It was their desire to bring the kitchen side of the business back into the fold of their family that prompted a makeover. Instead of relying on a talented chef employed to direct the kitchen, the Minnicks wanted to have more of a hand in the production of the food they served.

Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty has become a creative farm-to-table pizza and ice cream parlor with a praiseworthy and continuing commitment to quality ingredients from local farms. Still featuring a rotating, seasonal menu, diners now find pizzas, salads, delectable appetizers, and house-made ice cream and beverages.

With its gorgeous high-ceilinged interior and jovial service that made it feel more like we were dining at a friend’s dinner party than on a sunny, hip Portland strip, Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty is a very special listing in this website’s directory of Farm to Table Pizza. Portland, Oregon can certainly be proud of its pizza offerings; A couple of months ago, we also reviewed pizza night at Ken’s Artisan Bakery.

Even with only seven 12” pies to select from, the choice was a tough one.  Apart from the classic rendition (fresh mozzarella with organic basil from Groundwork Portland’s Emerson Street Garden Groundwork), the list stumped us with mouth-watering offerings.  Would we try fava beans with asparagus, roasted spring onions, basil-dill yogurt and farm egg?  Perhaps roasted yellow potatoes with fenugreek greens, La Quercia pancetta and tallegio cheese, or the inviting housemade fennel sausage with braising greens, rosemary and provolone piccante?

To give ourselves a little time to decide, we requested the oven-roasted asparagus with lovage salsa verde and egg appetizer.   Debating over the menu while sipping a glass of dolcetto from Viola Wines Cellars, a small urban winery in Portland (which crafts Italian-inspired wines using natural winemaking techniques from grapes grown in the Columbia Gorge, Horse Heaven Hills and on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley), my companion and I nibbled the olive-oil brushed asparagus that had just come fresh from the wood-fired oven.

We finally decided to try one classic pie and one particularly creative one. The Chop Butchery salami with Mama Lil’s sweet hot peppers, oil cured black olives and Italian oregano was just as one would expect a salami pie to be—salty and divine—with the peppers and olives adding a personal “Lovely’s” touch.

Our choice on the creative side was inspired by the knowledge of the previous years’ forest fires, which generated a natural environment for the local morels to flourish.  We saw them in the local markets and figured we couldn’t pass them up given the uncertainty of their growing season from year to year and our budding interest in edible fungi.  Boy, were we rewarded!

Where the salami pie was a warm and comforting reminder of all that is wonderful about pizza, the morel mushroom with ramps, pecorino tartufo and gremolata stood out with a symphony of flavor and texture the likes of which I had not experienced before except in only the most unlikely combinations (clam and bacon pizza at Area Four in Somerville, Massachusetts, or shrimp scampi pizza in Boston’s North End).  The spongy, woody morels reminded us of a more complex, piquant crimini.  Pairing it with ramps was a brilliant move given they could very well have grown in the same verdant area, and combining wild edibles with their own neighbors is most often a fool-proof recipe for deliciousness.

To ease our stomachs through the cheesy feast we imbibed the house-made kombuchas: fenugreek-maple and rhubarb cardamom.  Incredibly inventive, these brews went heavier on the spice and lighter on the sweet maple or tart rhubarb than expected.  I’d especially recommend asking for them in a cocktail.

We were unable to manage fitting anything else in our satiated bellies, otherwise the strawberry buttermilk ice cream would have been my perfect dessert.  Other options like fig leaf vanilla bean, mint stracciatella, and chamomile barley toffee offer enough variety for ice cream novices and connoisseurs alike.

Adding yet another star quality farm-to-table pizza parlor to our directory, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty is a must-try for anyone passionate about delicious pies.  From the sourdough crust to the seasonal rotation of original toppings, Lovely’s has the creativity and local-farm consciousness that is raising the bar for restaurants and wood-fired ovens all across America.  Bon appétit!

[Lovely’s Fifty Fifty, 4039 N Mississippi Avenue (between N Mason & N Shaver Streets), 503.281.4060, Dinner (Pizzas & salads, oven roasted vegetables, soups w/ bread, homemade ice cream): Tues-Sun 5:00PM-10:00PM]

(Lucas Knapp 7/13/16)

Federal DARK Act Limiting Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law Resurrected

We reported back in March that a bill in Congress sponsored by Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, preventing individual states from requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods, had been rejected after full Senate consideration. But we also noted that the Organic Consumers Association emphasized that the rejection of Senator Roberts’ bill was only “an exciting preliminary victory.”

OCA asked back in March, “How soon could the DARK Act [i.e., Deny Americans the Right to Know about GMOs] be resurrected?” and suggested it might be “As early as this week, or perhaps in two weeks, after the Senate returns from its recess.”  It took until late June for the DARK Act to be resurrected, and we are sorry to report that on June 29, Monsanto won a Senate test vote for cloture (68 “yeas” to 29 “nays”), with debate brought to an end, on the bill reintroduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabelow (D-Mich).

The Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling bill, which does not require words on packages of food, is in fact a “non-labeling” bill. It would kill the Vermont law that requires labels on packages of GMO food to note that the food has been “produced with genetic engineering.” The Vermont law became effective on July 1, 2016, and the OCA reports the law “is working,” with “GMOs being labeled,” and “food prices staying the same.” Further, the labels are reportedly being used nationwide.

The Organic Consumers Association has detailed the votes of the United States Senators on this bill in a helpful fashion noting that Senators, who voted against the DARK Act, received on average $350,877 from Monsanto in campaign contributions while Senators who voted for the DARK Act received on average $867,518.

We agree with the request made by OCA that your Senators should be contacted (202.224.3121/888.897.0174) “to tell them what you think of their votes.” Encourage your Senator to vote nay when the vote whether to pass the DARK Act is held on Wednesday, July 6, 2016.

NO Votes
Total: $10,175,439 Average: $350,877

Blumenthal D-CT NO $43,033
Booker D-NJ NO $215,250
Boxer D-CA NO $517,498
Cantwell D-WA NO $273,246
Cardin D-MD NO $230,103
Gillibrand D-NY NO $627,514
Heinrich D-NM NO $128,927
Hirono D-HI NO $108,150
Kaine D-VA NO $140,825
Leahy D-VT NO $356,995
Markey D-MA NO $118,144
Menendez D-NJ NO $647,774
Merkley D-OR NO $222,442
Mikulski D-MD NO $463,144
Murkowski R-AK NO $132,650
Murphy D-CT NO $667,307
Murray D-WA NO $416,761
Paul R-KY NO $110,550
Reed D-RI NO $691,398
Reid D-NV NO $750,242
Sanders I-VT NO $88,750
Schatz D-HI NO $814,930
Schumer D-NY NO $157,541
Sullivan R-AK NO $476,153
Tester D-MT NO $338,055
Udall D-NM NO $91,243
Warren D-MA NO $98,408
Whitehouse D-RI NO $992,967
TOTAL NO: $10,175,439 AVERAGE NO: $350,877

YES Votes
Total: $58,991,192  Average: $867,518

Alexander R-TN YES $980,283
Ayotte R-NH YES $235,956
Baldwin D-WI YES $160,709
Barrasso R-WY YES $207,250
Bennet D-CO YES $473,397
Blunt R-MO YES $2,069,365
Boozman R-AR YES  $646,471
Brown D-OH YES $379,952
Burr R-NC YES $1,933,705
Capito R-WV YES $456,720
Carper D-DE YES  $203,662
Casey D-PA YES $405,550
Cassidy R-LA YES $504,933
Coats R-IN YES $527,927
Cochran R-MS YES $2,333,394
Collins R-ME YES $596,291
Coons D-DE YES  $86,858
Corker R-TN YES  $664,527
Cornyn R-TX YES $1,688,149
Cotton R-AR YES $508,940
Crapo R-ID YES $1,170,466
Cruz R-TX YES $1,647,662
Daines R-MT YES $596,781
Donnelly D-IN YES  $363,199
Enzi R-WY YES $350,502
Ernst R-IA YES  $256,998
Feinstein D-CA YES  $1,645,599
Fischer R-NE YES $536,262
Flake R-AZ YES $535,102
Franken D-MN YES  $286,547
Gardner R-CO YES   $946,349
Graham R-SC YES  $1,131,590
Grassley R-IA YES $1,929,489
Hatch R-UT YES $725,633
Heitkamp D-ND YES $236,975
Heller R-NV YES  $258,140
Hoeven R-ND YES $405,020
Inhofe R-OK YES $938,853
Isakson R-GA YES  $1,227,649
Johnson R-WI YES $489,435
King I-ME YES  $74,515
Kirk R-IL YES $718,270
Klobuchar D-MN YES $720,592
Lankford R-OK YES $226,040
Lee R-UT YES $77,950
McCain R-AZ YES  $4,496,004
McCaskill D-MO YES  $383,024
McConnell R-KY YES $3,373,204
Moran R-KS YES  $2,284,551
Nelson D-FL YES $873,540
Perdue R-GA YES  $489,830
Peters D-MI YES    $238,147
Portman R-OH YES $1,011,940
Risch R-ID YES  $367,154
Roberts R-KS YES $2,808,111
Rounds R-SD YES $258,600
Rubio R-FL YES $1,141,265
Sasse R-NE YES  $329,935
Scott R-SC YES  $403,300
Shaheen D-NH YES $167,474
Sessions R-AL YES $927,652
Shelby R-AL YES $843,957
Stabenow D-MI YES $1,565,978
Thune R-SD YES $1,900,160
Tillis R-NC YES $437,750
Toomey R-PA YES $682,904
Vitter R-LA YES $657,365
Wicker R-MS YES $789,690
TOTAL YES:$58,991,192
AVERAGE YES: $867,518
Durbin D-IL Not Voting $951,130
Manchin D-WV Not Voting $196,850
Warner D-VA Not Voting $518,317

(Frank W. Barrie, 7/1/16)

Lunch at Brooklyn’s Runner & Stone Bakery and Café

Runner & Stone storefront in Gowanus, Brooklyn

Runner & Stone storefront in Gowanus, Brooklyn

Breads and pastries for the day including Bolzano niche (made with rye, spelt, cumin, coriander & fennel) and the bakery's millstone logo in its crust

Breads and pastries for the day including Bolzano miche (made with rye, spelt, cumin, coriander & fennel) and the bakery’s millstone logo in its crust

Fried chicken sandwich on brioche with cabbage slaw & garlic mayo

Fried chicken sandwich on brioche with cabbage slaw & garlic mayo

Indulging in coffee cake crumble, an almond croissant and a palmier

Indulging in coffee cake crumble, an almond croissant and a palmier

Bakery's creativity relected in walls made of "belly blocks", concrete blocks set in old flour sacks

Bakery’s creativity relected in walls made of “belly blocks”, concrete blocks set in old flour sacks

There’s no better example of how a baking resurgence is being woven into the culinary fabric of New York City than at the small but widely acclaimed Runner & Stone bakery cafe, a Michelin-recommended Bib Gourmand (i.e., an affordable and excellent restaurant), located a mere three blocks from the site of one of America’s very first tidewater grist mills in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

Yes, that Gowanus. What was once a busy (and notoriously polluted) industrial zone has in recent years become a hotbed of creativity, both artistic and culinary. Runner & Stone (a name which refers to the two stones used to grind grain) opened here in 2012 with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, seasonal dishes, and house-made preparations (they make almost everything here: from their butter, ketchup, and mustard to ricotta, mortadella, pastas and even pastrami).

Inside, the setup is modern but casual and reminiscent of an Italian-style cafe with the front bar counter displaying the day’s breads and pastries and a dining area further back. Despite calm and dark interior colors and industrial elements like a rusted metalwork exterior, the sleek space has an inviting atmosphere courtesy of large front and rear windows (the rear one peers out over a serene Japanese-style garden planted with grasses). The space is definitely on the small side as a dinner destination but if you’re lucky enough to snag a table, it’s organized creatively with mirrors that spread light into the dark nooks.

One of the most unique elements of the space are the three walls made of concrete blocks that were set in old flour sacks. Each one of these bulging “belly blocks” (so called by the design firm, Latent Productions, that fabricated them) display unique rippled wrinkles and fabric creases from the sacks with bubbly textures and curvy shapes that belie the material’s strength while calling to mind the alveole and varied contours of fermentation and a bread’s varied surface.

Originality and experimentation are just as integral to the vision behind the menu as well. Both the baked goods and dishes from the kitchen reflect ideas plucked from a variety of global cuisines (Italian, French, German, Asian) but modified with unique twists that take advantage of what the restaurant’s long list of local suppliers have in season. When I came in for a recent midday visit, I had a tough time deciding what to try among all interesting offerings. I ended up deciding on one of the cafe’s mainstays, a fried chicken sandwich on orange-water scented brioche with cabbage slaw and garlic mayo, and the less typical, banh-mi inspired mackerel, tomato, and shallot sandwich on baguette served with pickled daikon, carrots, cucumber, cilantro.

I was at first surprised by the choice to put fried chicken on brioche but it quickly became apparent that the choice was entirely calculated. The fried chicken turned out to be extremely juicy and the shiny brioche did play its part well, holding together despite the deluge. Flavor-wise, it added a light buttery note but that was fine given that the star of the dish was nestled inside it. As far as the chicken itself went, the meat was, as mentioned, quite moist, which was surprising since I didn’t detect the saltiness or spices that would have come from a brining. I chalked it up to local farm freshness. Unfortunately, the normal fried chicken crunch was overshadowed by this high moisture content which had the side-effect of causing the breading to adhere to the chicken minimally and slide off. Still, it tasted great but the textural miss was a bit surprising given that Chef Chris Pizzulli brings to Runner & Stone years of experience from the Blue Ribbon restaurants, famous for perfecting fried chicken in its various incarnations.

The mackerel on the long-fermented baguette loaf also lacked some compositional finesse but was tasty none-the-less. On the one hand, the French-style baguette was excellent: firm with a thin crust, airy interior, and chewy texture. But the nutty, robust bread and strong fish flavors were an odd pair that lacked a logical bridging flavor. As I ate it, I imagined how flavors like tarragon, dried cranberries, or even something like a lightly sweet miso or creamy plum sauce could brighten up the dish. The delicately pickled vegetables were good but not enough to balance the potent fish and bread.

I also enjoyed a few of the bakery’s pastries and viennoiseries: a coffee cake crumble, an almond croissant, and a palmier. All three were excellent variations of the butter, flour, sugar theme. Although the croissant was less flaky than I’m used to, its thick bottom layer provided a needed foundation for the delightful house-made almond paste smeared inside. Ideal for dunking in coffee, the thin palmier (made from cutting the cross section of a roll of puff pastry layers folded inward) was crisp and glazed with butter on all sides, giving it an almost candy-like shell. My favorite of these three pastries was the coffee cake square.

I’ve always been intrigued by the delicate structural balance achieved in coffee cakes. They are paradoxically both whole and sliceable into coherent units but also in a constant state of near chaos, ever threatened by the specter of small crumbly avalanches. Miraculously, they make it to our mouths held together as much by faith as eggs or gluten. Runner & Stone’s version veered towards the bready and buttery side of the spectrum, which meant it was a little denser, moister, and less prone to such spontaneous disintegration. Also an excellent coffee companion, finishing this little treat provided absolutely no challenge whatsoever.

At this point, there was simply no longer any room in my stuffed belly for anything else (sorry you delicious-looking rye and caraway brownie), so I grabbed one of the freshly baked sesame semolina loaves to bring home. Truth be told, it actually took me a few minutes to choose the semolina from the collection of extremely tempting baked goods on display: spelt pretzels, walnut levain, potato levain, French baguette, olive spelt ciabatta, whole wheat seeded, and their famous and massive dark Bolzano miche (a sourdough made with rye, spelt, cumin, coriander and fennel) which features the restaurant’s mill stone logo on it’s crust. Although not available on the day of my visit, I’ve seen a variety of rye and buckwheat explorations mentioned on their website as well as loaves with pear, fig, and blueberry additions.

Besides this seasonal experimentalism, head baker Peter Endriss (formerly a baker at Per Se and Bouchon bakery, Amy’s Bread, and Hot Bread Kitchen) approaches bread making traditionally and holistically, believing in natural leavening, long fermentation, and using only local eggs, local high-fat butter, and locally grown and milled whole organic grains (from Farmer Ground Flour in Ithaca, NY and Champlain Valley Milling in Westport, NY, among other suppliers).

At home, when it was time to put the semolina to the test, I decided to take a cue from the tuna melt semolina sandwich I saw on Runner & Stone’s lunch menu and try mine with fish as well (in spite of my earlier misadventure with the baguette). Sliced and toasted under a layer of goat cheese and topped with locally smoked Delaware River eel (from Delaware Delicacies in Hancock, NY), gravlax, and mackerel (all on different pieces), the bread proved excellent. The finely ground semolina lifted the heavy fish flavors with a lighter, airier density and gentler sweetness than the yeastier baguette. Although, to be fair, the tried-and-true garnish of lemon juice, red onion, pickled capers and dill probably helped balance things out too.

What I sampled at Runner & Stone was just the tip of the iceberg. Since eating there, I’ve heard good things about the dinner menu, which features intriguing dishes like house-brined and smoked duck pastrami, orecchiette pasta with housemade sausage and broccoli rabe, grass-fed steak with kale chimichurri and housemade buckwheat dumplings. The creativity and dedication to quality local ingredients of Chef Pizzulli and Baker Endriss make return visits to Runner & Stone a must-do pleasure.

[Runner & Stone, 285 Third Avenue (between Carroll & President Streets), Brooklyn, NY, 718-576-3360, Bakery Hours: Mon.-Thu. 7:30AM-10PM, Fri. 7:30AM-11PM, Sat. 8AM-11PM, Sun. 9AM-9PM, Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:00AM-3:00PM, Brunch: Sat & Sun 11:00AM-3:00PM, Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5:00PM-10:00PM, Fri & Sat 5:00PM-11:00PM, Sun 4:00PM-9:00PM, www.runnerandstone.com]

(Matt Bierce, 6/23/16)

[Editor’s Note: Our recent Facebook post praised Elizabeth G. Dunn’s A Call to Carbs in The Wall Street Journal (5/19/16). Ms. Dunn wrote that the “revolution afoot in bakeries across the country” suggests “it might just be OK to love bread again.” The growing awareness that “freshly milled whole grains rich in nutrients as well as flavor are a way to good health” is reflected by our expanding directory of craft bakeries, which offer baked goods and naturally leavened breads, made from scratch and hand-crafted, with the mindful sourcing of ingredients often including local grains and fruits. Contributing writer Matt Bierce had the pleasure of lunching at one of the three in Brooklyn included in our directory. (FWB).]

 

Tips For Storing The Bounty As 2016 CSA Farm Season Gets Underway

Sign welcoming CSA members, who pick up shares at Roxbury Farm, says to enjoy the farm but not to open gate and enter animal pastures.

Roxbury Farm cultivating hops on the sunny side of a farm building.

Roxbury Farm cultivating hops on the sunny side of a farm building.

Members of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms are savoring the start of the 2016 farm season. Just Food, a praiseworthy organization based in New York City, each year connects nearly a quarter million New Yorkers with fresh food through its network of community food projects. And the organization offers special training for Gotham residents “to start and manage CSA projects in partnership with approximately 40 regional farms.”  From one CSA in 1995, Just Food now assists more than 100 CSA programs.

Farms that work with Just Food include Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook (Columbia County, NY). This writer for the past few years has enjoyed a CSA share in Roxbury Farm, which also has weekly delivery of farm shares to the Capital Region of upstate New York, including a pick-up site in a nearby neighbor’s garage in my Albany neighborhood.

The 300-acre biodynamic Roxbury Farm is a granddaddy of CSAs in upstate, and the 2016 farm season is its 25th season of offering CSA shares. In addition to the weekly bounty, like many other CSAs, the farm suggests delicious recipes using the weekly food provided as well as updates about the farm and the current growing season in a weekly “Letter from a Farmer.” The first delivery of food this season included these handy storage tips from farmer Jody Bolluyt for the weekly bounty received:

Salad Mix: Wash your salad mix, then dry it in a salad spinner or with paper towels and store in a vented plastic bag in your fridge for over a week. If you store it wet, it won’t last for more than a few days.
Basil: Store in a glass of water on your kitchen counter like cut flowers and wash just before you use it.
Cilantro and parsley: Wash and dry your parsley and cilantro and then store in a vented plastic bag and wash just before you use them.
Bunches of greens (like kale): Dry the bunches with a paper towel, store in a vented plastic bag and wash just before you use them.
Zucchini and summer squash: The fridge is too cold for them so store them in a cool place in your kitchen and wash just before you use them.
Radishes: Blot the tops dry with a paper towel and store in a vented plastic bag in your fridge.
Turnips: You can eat the greens or treat them like radish tops and store in a vented plastic bag in your fridge.
Scallions: Store in a vented plastic bag in the fridge. Wash and trim just before you use them
Kohlrabi: Separate the leaves from the bulb and the bulb can be stored in your crisper drawer in your fridge. Peel the bulb before you eat it. You can also eat the leaves, similar to kale, but a bit tougher.

To be a part of a CSA farm means sharing in the life of a community that knows the farmers who grow its food, how it’s grown, and the specific spot on our planet where its food comes from. Each CSA is unique and offers special connections for members: from opportunities to enjoy a stroll on the farm and a weekly Letter From The Farmer, such as offered to its members by Roxbury Farm, to foraging classes and a solstice gathering on the longest day of the year offered to CSA members by Co-op 518 (a CSA farm in Princeton, New Jersey) or the special commitment and relationship between members of a full-diet, year-round CSA like Essex Farm (Essex, NY) and the on-going communications from hardworking, plus literary, farmer Kristen Kimball, author of The Dirty Life, A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love, whose poetic and insightful Essex Farm Notes to her farm’s CSA members make for real awareness of the changing seasons.

Directories of CSAs  throughout the United States and Canada are included on this website. And there’s still time to participate. Very likely, a slight reduction of the seasonal cost, typically $450-$700, would be offered for a late start of membership if shares are still available.

(Frank Barrie, 6/14/16)

 

College Art Majors Hit The Mark: Fat, Sugar, Salt & Marketing

Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition at Sage College of Albany’s Opalka Gallery

Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition at Sage College of Albany’s Opalka Gallery

Meredith Kill’s Packaging Parody: Cereal Series

Meradith Kill’s Packaging Parody: Cereal Series

Annemarie Dolfi’s DO-NOTS

Annemarie Dolfi’s DO-NOTS

Allison Borek’s watercolor on paper

Allison Borek’s watercolor on paper of a human heart inspired by cyclamen persicum

Union College’s Nott Memorial home of the college’s Mandeville GalleryHeart (inspired by cyclamen persicum)

Union College’s Nott Memorial

In late May and early June, the art departments of many, if not all, colleges bring attention to the creative energies of their graduating seniors, who have studied art and design. Here in the Capital Region of upstate New York, it’s an enjoyable experience to visit the student art exhibits mounted by colleges in the region at the end of the academic year.

This spring the creativity of two young artists on display at the Twelfth Annual Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition (May 6th-June 18th, 2016) at the Opalka Gallery located at Sage College of Albany (part of The Sage Colleges, which also includes the women’s college Russell Sage College in Troy, NY) deserves special recognition. This exhibition included work from “fine art, photography, interior design and graphic + media design students.”

Meradith Kill and Anne Marie Dolfi, both graphic and media design students and graduates of Sage College of Albany this year, have created insightful, yet playful, designs for edible food-like substances (thank you, Michael Pollan for the terminology) that powerfully critique the ability of marketers and promoters to sell products to consumers irregardless of nutritional and health concerns.

Meradith Kill’s Packaging Parody: Cereal Series uses artful packaging design to create colorful boxes of cereal that could be lining the shelves of conventional American supermarkets. But when examined closely, the artist’s packaging parody makes the viewer think deeply about the heavy-handed marketing of conventional breakfast cereals. If the colorful boxes are not viewed closely, very tempting to rip one open, dump the contents in a bowl and pour on the milk. But a close look reveals the General Kills Chocolax, SUBSTI FRUIT and Chemical Crunch cereals are best avoided. (Click on the photo to enlarge the image, and take a good look!)

Similarly, Annemarie Dolfi’s DO-NOTS conjures up a playful vocabulary for a sugary product that has special and widespread appeal for American consumers. Her tagline, “A Grab N’Go Breakfast With No Nutritional Value” pins the tail on the donkey. A close Where’s Waldo type of look at Dolfi’s creation reveals an ant, shaped like the devil, crawling over a pink DO-NOT. (Again, click on the photo to enlarge the image to see the details.) Humorous. But this send-up of the sophisticated marketing of children’s cereal and fast food doughnuts is a serious subject. Katie Couric’s Fed Up showed the public how very serious.

Also in the Capital Region, the Senior Art Exhibit (May 23rd-June 12th, 2016) presented by the Department of Visual Arts of Union College (Schenectady, NY) in the Mandeville Gallery, located in the college’s awesome 16-sided Victorian Nott Memorial, includes the work of a young artist, Allison Borek, who can be rightfully described as a very deep thinker.

Her artistic achievement entitled {Organ}ics consists of a series of watercolors on paper that complement sculptures of human organs she created using plants and flowers on foam-core board. The paintings have fine details and their creativity build on conventional medical illustrations. Her watercolor of the human heart inspired by cyclamen persicum is mesmerizing.

By her art, Ms. Borek shows that plants and human anatomy are “equally sophisticated in structure” in the artist’s words. She also offered these enlightening words to describe her artistic accomplishment: “Every single carbon atom that makes up the human body was at one time fixed in a plant during photosynthesis.” Indeed, that is an idea for anyone who cares about the future of our planet to mull over.

If readers are similarly fortunate to live near colleges and universities, it’s highly recommended to check to see if similar exhibits of art created by graduating students are on display to the public. This writer is looking forward to the Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition 2016 (June 4, 2016 to October 23, 2016) opening later this week at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. The works on exhibit were selected by a panel of jurors and represent “the wide range of media being studied by art students within SUNY and cover the traditional areas of drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture, as well as digital imaging, photography, and mixed media installations.” This annual event, begun in 2002, recognizes the creativity of art students throughout the SUNY system of nearly 500,000 students enrolled in 64 campuses across New York State.

(Frank W Barrie, 6/2/16)

 

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