Finding art in food is a familiar pasttime these days — just check out all those Instagram galleries. But when it comes to locating food in art, it takes a little more training. This is where art historian Maite Gomez-Réjon's Cur-ATE course series at LACMA might be useful — and fun. Gomez-Réjon has been leading themed tours, followed with a four-course tasting and wine pairing by Ray's & Stark chef Kris Morningstar, at the museum since 2012.
Gomez-Rejón has a background in both art and food, having studied art in college and graduate school then completing a culinary arts program after that. She was working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City when she began joining her pursuits.
“I was actually developing a program in Medieval art, and I came across a bunch of Medieval cookbooks. That's when the food history connection hit me. From then, I couldn't look at any work of art without thinking about food.”
The courses were a hit at the museum. “All of a sudden you see people making a connection to the pope in the Rennaissance painting, because you were talking about the food that he ate or the chef that he hired. It became much less heady and intimidating. It broke a new barrier,” Gomez-Rejón says.
She now runs similar programs at the Huntington Library, Getty Center, and El Segundo Museum of Art in addition to LACMA. “If I had started in New York, I think it would have been a little more difficult because everything is so much more established. LA is just much more open to new ideas.”
The next Cur-ATE nights are on Monday, July 8 and Tuesday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. “It's based on Japanese prints around the time of the French Impressionists. We're looking at Japanese art and French art. We're going to talk about the French fascination with everything Japan then. The menu will be French with an Asian flair.”
“In September, we're going to be looking at kitchen gardens in Europe and America. We're looking at landscapes and decorative art. In November, the class will be about cooking around the world in five drinks. We'll look at beer, wine, spirits, coffee, and tea.”
Classes at LACMA are $90 for LACMA members and $100 for non-members; price is inclusive of parking, tour, and dinner. Each class is capped to 20 people.
“It starts off like a museum tour and the conversation quickly turns to food. It ends up really feeling like a dinner party,” says Gomez-Réjon.
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