oil on masonite on panel
Dimensions: 4" diameter
Collector's Special: Buy 2 or more at $400 each.
I have been painting twisted vintage Americana, much of it food-related, on repurposed printed fabrics for over twenty years. A few years ago, I found myself with an overabundance of little plywood circles left over from another project. They were practically begging to be made into tiny paintings. They reminded me of little hors d'oeuvre plates, so they became paintings of food.
I harvested these images from my vast collection of mid-twentieth-century cookbooks and homemaking magazines. From arrays of meticulously arranged spreads and dubiously edible dishes, I pulled fragments of canned vegetables, processed meats, and other delectables and zoomed in for close-ups.
I am drawn to the already-unnatural colors of processed foods, especially as they appear when they are re-processed through the clunky color separations of 1950's mass-market printing. For this series I also had in mind the glowing clear colors of 15th century altarpieces, when pigments were precious resources judiciously deployed. I whittled my palette down to approximations of the four not-precious printing colors—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black—to pull these incongruous influences together.
In hard times, the smells and sights of familiar foods can evoke nostalgia and bring comfort, even when those foods epitomize an era of prepackaged convenience and unnatural hues. Canned fruit cocktail with red dye #2—just like Mom used to make!
Despite the "convenience foods" moniker, these foods evoke a time when an inordinate amount of mid-century female creativity was channeled into bizarre and ephemeral culinary concoctions. Over the years I've painted hundreds of these highly decorative foodstuffs. When I find myself alone in a room piling up the layers of colored glazes, trying to achieve that perfect candy-colored translucency of Jell-O salad, it sometimes feels like I'm recreating the fifties housewife's experience of making the real thing in her kitchen.
After thirty years of meticulosity, I was aiming here for looser, more painterly, for nailing the same hors d'oeuvres with more economy this time around. The rules of painting and cooking are pretty much the same: Know your ingredients. Don't overthink it, overwork it, or overcook it—because you'll never have that recipe again.
Jane Richlovsky, Shrimp Cocktail
Jane Richlovsky has been painting people, houses, and food, mostly on patterned vintage textiles, for thirty years. She scours local thrift stores for the physical material and the American collective unconscious for the narrative material. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio and followed the path of westward expansion to Seattle, Washington where she now resides.
Her paintings have been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States, including the Museum of Northwest Art, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bellevue Arts Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and the Port Angeles Art Center in Washington; Lois Lambert Gallery, JoAnne Artman Gallery, LA Art Show and A Shenere Velt Gallery in California; The Painting Center in New York City; Heineman-Myers Contemporary Art in Bethesda, Maryland; Art Now Miami in Miami Beach; Art Santa Fe; and in Seattle at Linda Hodges, studio e, Zinc Contemporary, Ballard-Fetherston, SAM Gallery, and numerous other venues. She is the recipient of grants from the George Sugarman Foundation, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, King County Arts Commission (now 4Culture), and Artist Trust. Her work is included in the collection of the King County International Airport and in private collections around the world.