Call it a feast for the eyes.
On Tuesday evening, Katalina’s Bakery on Whitney Avenue held an artists’ reception for the food-inspired art exhibition it currently houses, titled “Five Course Meal. Paintings and photographs of pancakes, fruit and — overwhelmingly — cake, hung on display around the bakery.
Katalina Riegelmann, the owner of Katalina’s Bakery, said she eagerly agreed to host the exhibition when Debbie Hesse, director of artistic services and programs for the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, first approached her with the idea for a show.
“It’s nice to see people’s perspectives on what looks yummy to them,” Riegelmann said.
Riegelmann said she could relate to the abstract nature of much of the art on display because tapping into the abstract has always been important to her as she thinks of new recipes for her baked goods. For example, Riegelmann said that for her, abstract thinking can manifest as choosing to use curry and cilantro in a pastry paired with lime frosting.
She attributed part of the success of each creative recipe to the New Haven community, which she claims “just eats it up.”
Aside from the physical appeal of the food they depicted, four of the five artists whose work is featured said they emphasized a metaphorical significance of their work as well. Artist Alexis Neider said that her paintings of cakes cause the viewer to think about “family, and ritual, and nostalgia.”
“All kinds of things happen in life, but you can always go back to your family,” Neider said.
For artist Barbara Marks, the significance of sweets goes far beyond their meaning to an audience. Memories of baking birthday cakes for her late husband, who passed away five years ago, inspired Marks to create paintings of cakes.
Marks said she began painting abstract black-and-white cakes when a friend asked her if she had any pieces that could fit an upcoming show that revolved around the concept of “noir” art. Marks noted that her agreement to display her work at that exhibition was the true origin of her current artistic career.
Marks said that gradually, her painted cakes each started having “their own personality” and “their own lives.” Now, she focuses on how each of her paintings affects the viewer, and how that effect is achieved through the color scheme.
“I am always interested in how color elicits emotion,” she said.
Artist Joan Fitzsimmons referred to the metaphorical aspect of food as a “complex emotional dynamic.” Fitzsimmons’ own work includes black-and-white photographs, said she was inspired by the inherent beauty of decorative cakes.
For her part, artist Laura Barr said she focused on “the beauty of simple, everyday objects” in her paintings of berries and honey.
The show will be on view through Nov. 2.