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« Birthday Cake Poll: The Winners! | Main | Berger, Hold the Fries: Baltimore's Famous Cookies and More »
Wednesday
Aug062008

Eat Your Art Out: Sweet Masterpieces by Patianne Stevenson

Cakespy note: The above cupcake is sweet, but not delicious: it's made of cardboard!

What's so awesome about dessert? Well, there's the obvious answer--everything! But if pressed, we might say that our favorite aspect is that it's such a simple and attainable luxury--something that can so easily turn around a bad day, make an event special--something that just makes life sweeter. Literally.

And that sweetness is celebrated beautifully with Art on the Menu, a collection of artwork by Seattle-based Patianne Stevenson. We're equal parts in love with her painterly renditions of sweets, and completely awe of her painstaking cardboard renditions of dainty desserts (yes--the pictures to the left are made of cardboard!). Our Head Spy Jessie recently wrote a story about her for DailyCandy Seattle, and in researching it got to pick her brain a bit about her art; here's what we learned!

Desperately seeking sweetness: who is the artist?


I am a real foodie, and an artist. That's Art On The Menu: a life combing both my loves. I am formally trained in the visual arts, however cooking and baking are also an art form for me. Place painting, sculpture, cooking and baking in the bowl and stir until incorporated. They each have the quality of creating something from something. In my life, this not only gives me the picture perfect subject, I get to eat it later! Tasting my subjects is part of the process. And there is never a lack inspiration. At times a painting or cardboard sculpture will begin with a recipe which I will make; at other times I just have to eat french fries for dinner...all these moments are inspirational. If I don't have a feeling for what's next in the studio, I "go out". Going out can mean anything from visiting a bakery to shopping the farmers market, or simply discussing food with my foodie friends.

What's the story behind her process?

I seem to have the "deconstructing" nature that I notice in the prose of professional food writers. They are able tell you about the meal, including the look, taste, and ambiance, by poetically describing the parts. I too focus on the bits and parts of a meal to evoke the whole. Rather than words, I use color, pattern, texture and shape. This is how I approach my work, including commissions, which can be anything from depicting a family recipe, to creating a site and color specific piece for that little slice of wall under a cabinet and above the counter in a client's kitchen. It's the same process with my cardboard sculpture. Although it is three dimensional, cardboard has color, pattern, texture and shape. I especially love the inconsistencies and little imperfections that arise in the final pieces from the "Cardboard Kitchen". It's just like finished recipes from the other kitchen in that way, but without the oven of course!

Why does she do it?

I love painting sweets! They're always beautiful, happy, and fun. But, my favorite baked subject has to be the cupcake! The variations are endless. It's like a fashion show! Enrobing can run from classic buttercream to the cupcake encrusted with the most outrageously gorgeous colors and fondant decorations. Even the outer garment, the paper cup, can make a stylish appearance. And of course there's the cake as the surprise. I just bought a little beauty to paint from a local bakery. The cake is pineapple rum flavored. I am so excited! So now I have to admit I also love to eat them. I think of it as eating a whole cake at once!

On her hometown:

We Seattlites are incredibly lucky to have many truly wonderful cafes, bistros, restaurants, and bakeries. I can never decide on just where to take visitors, unless I have a month. And are we ever blessed in the cupcake department! We not only have several very well known bakeries dedicated to the cupcake, we have a head spinning array of bakeries producing delicious, elegant, high quality gemlike cupcakes! Are we in heaven?


What's next?

That's easy...there is so much beautiful food out there!

Wanna buy some art?

Large format paintings are available through the artist's website, artonthemenu.com. Small format paintings, and cardboard sculpture are available through her etsy shop, artonthemenu.etsy.com.


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