Jerry Lebo, 2007
"Fig Newtons" is the second painting in a series I am doing on junk food. A colleague was surprised to hear that these are part of my series--mainly because he was disappointed to hear that Fig Newtons are junk food. Well, technically maybe not. But, there are a lot of calories in figs surrounded by cookie!
That got me thinking about the purpose behind this series, and why I was biting my subject matter. In fact, the whole idea started on pure instinct--but now I have had time to think about it--perhaps I can give it some words. So here is what I have come up with so far.
One of the uniting factors in all these subject matter is the juxtaposition of the outside and inside. Twinkies have creme filling, Fig Newtons have their figs, Sno-Balls have...well, no one really knows what is inside those. Just kidding--there is cream and cake. Part of biting into them is to reveal this difference in texture and try to capture that in the painting.
Second, I like the idea of something that has a bite out of it. In my mind, it introduces a human into the painting. Who bit it? Did the artist eat it? Why did they stop at only one bite? The point of the bite is to add a narrative to the painting. Food just sitting there does not interest me. It is like those old Dutch still lifes hanging in the museums around the world, where the oysters are opened up, and the dead hare is hanging on the wall. It makes one feel, prior to any thought process, that something has just happened--and also that something more might happen shortly. It is the bite.
I was surprised that yesterday's posting of "Twinkies" attracted several comments asking "Where is the wrapper?" People seem to need the wrapper to get better feel for the context. I also had a few colleagues note that they did not know what a "Twinkie" was. Well, I guess if you don't know what a "Twinkie" is, then you might not have any affinity for the painting. But, isn't that why someone who has never been to the South of France may not like a painting done there? I don't see that as a problem. I have made a choice, I guess, to only reach out to people who have actually had a Twinkie. I chose a "Twinkie" because I like them--not because of the fact that they are something anybody else is interested in eating them. Hey, anyway, this is the good ol' USA--there must be a Twinkie museum somewhere (probably more than one)--I will send them a jpeg. They will not only "get it", they are probably willing to spend vast sums of money to hang and care for it. Type "Twinkie" on ebay--and I am sure there are pages of stuff. People have heard of these things and like them.
So, if you have eaten a Fig Newton, you will know what they taste like, and may appreciate four of them stacked on top of each other. If you have ever tried to paint four stacked on top of each other at different angles, you will also appreciate how hard it is to paint them. Twinkies are easier, let me tell you. If you wonder why there is a bite out of the one sitting on top--then that is okay too. Perhaps the artist bit them, or a passerby. Perhaps a animal of some sort came by and bit them--whatever you fancy. At least something happened.
Perhaps, some would have me throw away the pop-tarts and paint the wrapper. That way, even if you don't know what a Pop-tart is, you can read the wrapper and go buy some and taste them for yourself. I can also tape the receipt to the easel, so you can see where I bought them and how much I paid. That way, in one-hundred years, when they end up on the Antiques Roadshow, the appraiser can price them properly and tell you how old the painting is. BTW, I paid $0.79 for them at 7-Eleven.
You can expect no wrappers and a single bite in all these paintings. Please bear with me--I am a temperamental artist. I cannot be talked to.
All the best, sixtyminuteartist.