Last week, just before the Cincinnati area was blanketed with ice, I walked into the Duveneck Gallery on the second floor of THE CARNEGIE VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS CENTER in Covington. I was immediately enveloped by the warm scent of spices -- perfect timing on a cold, dreary February day.
Part of The Carnegie's Art of Food exhibition, the "spice room" is a spare, calming installation that incorporates all the visitor's senses.
Nineteen terracotta bowls by SCOTT KELLEY, glazed with various solid colors on the inside, are mounted on small white shelves around the room. Each bowl is filled with a single spice -- cardamom, rosemary, cinnamon, ancho pepper, coriander and 14 others. They rest at just below nose height, allowing the scent of each to permeate one's nostrils when standing before it.
The colorful variety of spices also provides a visual treat. Those in their powdered state resemble pure pigment -- turmeric's golden glow, paprika's deep, earthy red. The shapes were a pleasant surprise as well -- anise's pointed star-shaped pods, mustard's tight, round beads. Visitors also seemed to be enticed to touch the spices (although I cannot confirm that this was encouraged by the Carnegie). There were finger dents in the powdered spices, and the vanilla beans were so irresistible that they were all stolen on opening night.
Area chefs were matched with each spice and asked to provide a recipe that incorporates it. These are aesthetically mounted on the wall above each bowl, and can also be downloaded from the Carnegie's website (www.thecarnegie.com).
If anyone is skeptical that creating fine food is an art, this installation just might convince them of the sheer beauty of ingredients. (The Art of Food is on view at The Carnegie through Feb. 23.)
FOCAL POINT turns a critical lens on a singular work of art. Through Focal Point we slow down, reflect on one work and provide a longer look.