10/09/2012 12:54:00 PM

Party Report: Starving Artist Benefit for Chicago Artist Coalition

Photos by Chris Geick
Eat your art. That was the idea on Saturday night when culinary and visual artists joined forces for the second annual Starving Artists benefit for the Chicago Artist’s Coalition.

Situated on a subtle side street in Fulton Market, the event took over a gallery and adjacent tent. Guests were welcomed with champagne and an array of meat in the form of a charcuterie throwdown. Publican Quality Meats brought an impressive spread of gourmet slices included pork pate wrapped in bacon and sour cheery-beer salami. Old Town Social went with whimsical cones filled with freshly sliced meat and a pickle.

Cheering on the meat slingers were brewers from Haymarket and Solemn Oath, each of which poured two beers. Haymarket brought their Algonquin double simcoe IPA and a Blacksox porter. Solemn Oath poured Octoberface and Oubliette. The brewers were paired with performing artists Industry of the Ordinary.

Once inside, the fun really started with stunning displays of food-themed art including a room filled with doughnuts from Glazed and Infused balanced on carved fish pedestals. Another side room featured a collaboration between Vosges Haute Chocolate and Bacarra Collective. The multi-sensory experience began with blindfolding guests and having them touch two different objects, smell two fragrances and listen to two songs then choose their favorite of each. A “choose you own adventure” inspiration led to one of two colorful backdrops where gusts got their photo taken and were given either an absinthe or rose truffle.

The four artist and chef collaborations were exhibited in the main gallery. The most unavoidable was designed by Erik Peterson and inspired by chef Erling Wu-Bower’s (avec) goat sausage dish. Two goat piñatas were suspended from the ceiling; one intact and the other spilling its literal guts onto several trays on the floor. Each of the objects on the trays were ingredients in the sausages, including the goat’s severed and skinned head.

Another chef and artist collaboration that took an “eat what you see” approach was Jeanne Dunning and chef Jared Van Camp (Nellcôte and Old Town Social). The photograph of molding meat in the foreground with out of focus apples, butter and bread in the background featured the same ham that was served in Van Camp’s dish. Originally the duo was looking at a fermented salami for the photograph, but they thought the white mold was too pretty an opted for the more grotesque green ham.

A sculpture of two porcelain birds connected by an arch of fungus mirrored chef Beverley Kim’s dish of century quail egg, spaghetti squash-kimchi pancakes, pickled fungus, black garlic aioli. The final pairing was between Laura Letinsky with food preservationist Tara Lane (Jane Addams Hull-House Museum).

Each chef-artist duo was introduced by a custom performance by The Power of Cheer and the night ended by declaring Publican Quality Meats the charcuterie champions.

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