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Lee Price

Lee Price is an American figurative realist painter. Her hyperrealist canvases contain candid pseudo-photographs concerning the relationship between women and food. Sometimes evoking secret moments of binging, and others featuring lonely moments of tea-sipping in a bathtub, Price captures the quiet war of emotional eating, using herself as the subject.

As a woman, I have been made to feel guilty for eating that extra french fry, for wanting that additional slice of cheese, for not being petite. Women are constantly ‘food-shamed’, according to antiquated stereotypes of how we should behave around cuisine: eat little. We are held to impossible etiquette standards, we must be dainty, and yet, we must also be the cooks.

Food, the sustenance of life, and for many a joy of life, is also something which seeks to control us.

I have eaten crab rangoon in a bathtub. I have consumed a bag of Salt and Vinegar potato chips and a box of Oreos silently before a roommate came home. I have snuck eating Frozen Yogurt on my walk home. I once got into a fight with a best friend over a box of Whole Wheat Strawberry Poptarts. All in the annals of food guilt.

Yet, some of my most cherished memories also contain the ignition of my olfactory bulb and gustatory delights: pizza from Jumbo Slice, 2 am chicken tenders from Wingo’s, a Philly cheesesteak, my anniversaries at Dovetail and Colicchio & Sons, a weekend olive oil tasting in Napa Valley, sashimi-for-two delivery with my boyfriend in the tangled sheets.

It wasn’t until the aughts that a woman finally won Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

I oscillate between a life of gluttony, of flippant uncaring, and of an extreme need to somehow tame my natural urges, to count a calorie. My friends are all on a perpetual diet. I cannot read a woman-targeted magazine without an article on cholesterol, staying slim, or the right kinds of fats. If left unchecked, I would eat all of the world’s chèvre.

Lee Price, Ice Cream II

But, in truth, I adore food. I adore it at least 3 times a day. And Price shows this edifying and celebratory (almost orgasmic) side of fare, as well, just not the amazing, communal connotations of a shared meal.

Snack_52x40

From her studio in Beacon, New York, Price dreams up canvases “exploring food’s role as liberator, crutch, drug, and nourishment.” In a somewhat mocking turn, the city of Beacon, not far from the Culinary Institute of America, is also in the midst of a food revolution. The industrial town on Metro North has remained its relationship with farms not factories: Tito Santana Taqueria, The Hop Beacon, Homespun Foods, Max’s on Main, The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, Cafe Amarcord.

Let the food revolution continue.

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Storm King Art Center

Nestled on 500 acres in the lower Hudson Valley of New York state lies (lay?) the undulating hills of Storm King Mountain, where a majestic open-air museum sits in Mountainville. For fifty years, this unassuming treasure has been celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks.

Filled with woodlands, wildflowers and lush, native meadow grasses like switchgrass,  bluestem, purple top tridens, Canadian wild rye, and sideoats grama grass. The grass, hearkening back to landscapes of the Romantic Hudson River School is such an integral part of Storm King that a “tall grass program” has been implemented for over nineteen years by landscape architects.

Storm King Art Center’s distinguished collection comprises more than 100 sculptures by some of the most acclaimed artists of our era such as Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik and more. Works at Storm King encompass the years from post-World War II to the present. It obvious that the curators focused on large-scale abstract sculpture. Towering in the meadows, almost looming behind leaves, stand steel anaglyphs, different from all angles, and giant mechanical simulacra like faux oil rigs across Texas. The collection also includes figurative work and sculpture in stone and earth itself.

A strange sort of time travel occurs when leaving NYC and traveling north. One passes the remnants of colonial America, its first battlegrounds, Fort Montgomery, tollroads on cliff-sides. One arrives at the park and encounters sculptures like extraterrestrials trying to communicate their nature through objects, or like ruins from an ancient civilization whose language we have lost.

Although Storm King was originally envisioned as a museum devoted to Hudson River School, by 1961 its founders had become committed to modern sculpture, and whatever the evolution of that terms mean. Every work is situated  with consideration of both its immediate surroundings and distant views, as if the artwork was meant to be one with the land all along.