For anyone who likes words, one of the most fascinating things about them is the way we use them to paint pictures. When someone refers to the Mona Lisa, everyone in the Western world quickly draws up a mental image of Leonardo's mysterious miss (actually she was a misses). Because of this, when anyone refer to a "Mona Lisa smile," that too paints a picture. This is what Michael Demuth (no relation to Charles) does. He takes these word paintings and uses them in paint paintings. His "Crying Over Spilt Milk" depicts a cow shedding tears over a broken bottle of her delicious output (real broken bottle, real spilled milk). And going a step further, it's done using a milk-based paint. In fact, underlining the tendency we all have of utilizing food references in our word paintings, many of Michael's works are actually painted USING food. Another of his pieces is entitled "That's small potatoes." You guessed it, real tiny, red potatoes, carefully preserved, nestled in the corner of a four-foot square white canvas. I don't think that's what's meant by culinary art.
In another painting, also utilizing edible elements in both its theme and media, he is found to be "Comparing Apples and Oranges." Sometimes he makes the effort to preserve the organic material, sometimes he doesn't. And sometimes he tries and fails, which is yet seen as an integral part of the creative effort. His "Walking on Egg Shells" and "That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles" both succeed. His "Bringing Home the Bacon" was a greasy, smelly, unmitigated failure. The flies loved it but gallery goers at the prestigious Wittikind Gallery in Orlando, Florida turned up their noses at it...actually they fled holding them. A week into the show, both artist and gallery owner agreed to consign the work to the large green, metal, gallery annex in the back alley.
The one-man show, entitled "Food for Thought: Michael Demuth's Art and Artifice" debuted a few weeks ago, to the traditional wine and cheese reception. The wine was served not in crystal stemware but in tiny, new, souvenir bottles ("Old Wine in New Bottles"). And the mainstay crackers with cheese hors d'oeuvres were decorated by the artist using a palette of colored cheeses (some natural; some artificially tinted), painstakingly painted on each crispy "canvas" to depict various items from the four food groups. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprising) some opening night viewers chose to "collect" rather than consume his art. Seeing this, the gallery quickly came up with Styrofoam take-out containers, charging a dollar each for their "framing" services. Among other titles which have been a big hit with viewers were, "The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread," "The Salt of the Earth," "Dollars to Donuts," and "Something Fishy's Going On." The Orlando Sentinel sent it's foods critic to review the show. He gave it one star. The show runs through May 5, 2000.