A 4-year-old artist might sculpt a lumpy face in a dish of mashed potatoes, adding peas for eyes. Twenty years later, the same artist might stage a gleeful cafeteria food fight and call it social sculpture. Curator Hanne Mugaas says, “Food has always been present in art. … It is linked to pleasure.” She's right; no necessity other than sex may be more so. In “The Art of Cooking,” the Mugaas-curated eats-and-art-themed exhibit opening at the Royal/T in Culver City today, food is appropriately muse, medium and message — and everyone, as Mugaas notes, can relate to it.

Takeshi Murata creates digital 3-D still life prints of lowbrow refuse — beer cans and fast food containers. Scott Reeder uses raw and and cooked strands of spaghetti in his abstract paintings. Josh Blackwell embroiders plastic grocery bags into faux-luxurious objects. From fashion to performance art, edibles and kitchen utensils will squeeze their way into the exhibit's every piece. Don't miss the opening-night performances, including “Fantasy Sandwich” by Los Angeles native Charles Irvin. For those who like food they can chomp as well as stare at, Mugaas's brother, chef Petter Mugaas Joakimsen, will be preparing dishes for the opening-night reception, which starts at 8 p.m.

“The Art of Cooking” runs through August. The show will be the Culver City cafe's last, as it's closing its doors after a five-year run. Owner Susan Hancock says she'll soon be announcing a series of “roaming special events, exhibits, shows, brand partnerships and pop-ups in Los Angeles and around the world,” so stay tuned.

LA Weekly