Art & the Art of Food: “Dinner with Jackson Pollock”

Aside from leaving a legacy of astonishing abstract art, Jackson Pollock has a cookbookpollock2 And why should that come across as strange.  He was no starving artist and even so, everyone has to eat and cook something for themselves sometimes right?  But I must admit my first thought was…really??  It’s interesting how we see people as one dimensional when we only know one thing about them.  But this man not only painted, he enjoyed gardening, entertaining and making food – everything from starters and entrees to side dishes, breads, and desserts.

Seems the lines are becoming more and more blurred between fashion and art, makeup and art and now food and art?

What do you know about Jackson Pollock, the famous American artist? That he was considered rather wild, and struggled with alcoholism? All of this is true, but it’s not the full picture of the artist and his life. He was also an avid cook, and a lover of good food, which shades in some fresh nuances to his life and work, explains Robyn Lea, the author of a new book about Pollock and his cooking, Dinner with Jackson Pollock.

Like his canvases, I would imagine my dinner plate to be splattered with a colorful and chaotic assortment of food.

Convergence, 1952 by Jackson Pollock
Convergence, 1952 by Jackson Pollock

Robyn Lea is an Australian photographer and writer who became fascinated by Pollock and his relationship with food. She was doing a story for an Australian magazine and photographed the pantry at Pollock House in East Hampton, NY. “I started to wonder about their food,” she told me. “They had beautiful objects in there that said these people were really interested in food, like Eva Zeisel china, and an expensive, complete collection of Le Creuset pieces.”

She wondered what the artist’s dinner parties were like, and then she discovered his own hand-written recipe books — with dozens of recipes clearly made and loved by the artist. “I started a series of Jackson Pollock dinner parties,” Lea told me. The discovery process took over from there, and through it she not only cooked quite a lot of good food from Pollock’s cookbooks, but discovered a less-well-known side of the man as well.

“I thought he was the genius wild man throwing paint in the air and drinking too much,” Lea said, confirming a caricature of Pollock that is perhaps the most widely known. “And then the great surprise was that he was the baker, which is an art and science that requires precision. That was a great shock to me — he’s a baker but his artwork is not like that.”

But, in a twist, Pollock’s precision with food casts fresh light on the current scholarship of his work: “But then, he denied the accidental in his work,” Lea told me. “He said he knew exactly where the splats of paint would land. Scientific studies now actually show an incredible amount of design and structure to that work.” It’s very contrary, she said, to how the average person sees the work of Jackson Pollock. “If you look at his cooking from this perspective there’s a great connection to how he painted.”

Perhaps the most poignant food connection in Pollock’s story, however, is the diet Lea discovered in her research that was intended to cure his alcoholism. “There were very valid attempts to assist him in these cures,” she told me. “Very poignant and showed this side of him that was not so egocentric but tried very hard to overcome alcoholism, with therapy and diet, from the 1930s on. There’s a sadness there to find these things out.”

The book itself is a beautiful, lively melding of Pollock’s work and his recipes, drawn together with Lea’s photography, writing, and interviews with his family. She tells many stories, like that of the Cross-Country Johnny Cakes, which Pollock and his brother lived off of on their cross-country road trip to visit their mother in California. There are stories of happy times and many images of Pollock’s work, and photographs of him in the studio. It’s a rare cookbook — one that doesn’t simply offer the novelty of a famous artist’s recipes and cooking, but offers fascinating insight on his life as a human being as well.

And that is exactly why it would have been so amazing to actually have had dinner with this rare man.

Spaghetti Sauce
One of the photos in the book – a spaghetti sauce with mushrooms and pork.

Source for cookbook info:

To purchase: – $50

The ART of collecting ART – What Makes Good ART?

When it comes to art everyone seems to have an opinion. Of course everyone has different tastes and what someone loves, someone else might despise. But there is art…and then there is ART!

Elan Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver
Elan Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver

Have you ever wondered how experienced art world professionals separate out the best art from the rest?

I came across a website about the business of ART by Alan Bamberger, a San Francisco art consultant, advisor, and independent appraiser of all aspects of original works of art including art-related documents, and art reference books. He has been selling art since 1979 and has been consulting and appraising for artists, galleries, businesses, organizations and collectors since 1985.  He is the author of “The Art of Buying Art.”

Mr. Bamberger asked some Art World Pros for answers.  Here they are:

Brian Gross, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco: Art that is unique in conception and well executed.

DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer and critic, Bay Area, CA: Good visual art looks stunningly right and, in retrospect, obvious, or inevitable– yet it’s also continually surprising. It is a powerful paradox. How can someone have possibly made this? How in the world could it not have been made?

A magnificent piece by Joseph Kyle brings life to a downtown office.
A magnificent painting by Joseph Kyle hangs in a downtown office bringing light and life to an already beautiful space.

Cheryl Haines, Haines Gallery, San Francisco: Clear intention, unwavering dedication, patience, perseverance, self awareness and the drive to make for yourself and no one else.

Robert Berman, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles: Reality is by agreement. The reality of art is usually by some kind of agreement. The arbiters are the museums, the museum curators, the people who spend their lives and their time actually being critical of what they see and judging what they see. If you add in four or five art critics who are then able to write about it, if you get four or five major collectors who are passionate about what they collect to patronize it, and several major auction houses to auction it, then a consensus or vetting process begins to unfold. Of course there’s magic dust involved, so this is not a sure way, but it’s a safe way to go about judging what is good art.

by Marc Séguin
by Marc Séguin

Catharine Clark, Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco: When it has its own internal logic. It took me a long time to get to this place, but that is the answer that I now give. I used to say that good art is like porn; you know it when you see it.

Mat Gleason, Coagula Art Journal, Los Angeles: The moment and the memory. It has to be something that engages you, on one of a million levels, in person, and establishes a memory that remains positive. This can be an artwork that challenges you and then makes you think about it days later or one that seduces you and delivers pleasant feelings days later. There are as many ways to produce this 1-2 effect as there are artists, but so much art that grabs you is glib and you forget it or is lousy and only recalled as something you sped past or upon which you only regret wasting your day.

Robert Shimshak, Collector, Berkeley, CA:

Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall

Good art is timeless. It will assume a new relevance to each generation, and to yourself as you grow. It will connect to the past and feed the future. It has a simple and rigorous beauty that commands your gaze and thoughts whenever you look at it. The best work will break your heart. As a collector, you will know it when you see it. It’s personal. You will not have to be convinced by anyone to acquire it; it will be something you simply must have. It is like a good marriage that completes a feeling inside you, something that lasts forever and grows with time.

Marsea Goldberg, New Image Art, Los Angeles: Originality, representational of the time when it was created, passion, a frame of reference, freshness, intellectual content, and is uniquely identifiable as the work of that particular artist. The art should effortlessly have as many of these characteristics as possible– or none at all. It also has to have magic; if you try too hard, the magic could fly away. The artist needs to have a vision and it’s important that the work doesn’t go into a dead end. It’s helpful if the artist has the capacity to reinvent their creativity through various skills and mediums.

Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco: It is truly an unanswerable question without stating something that appears pretentious… the perception of what makes art “good ” revolves around the application of that difficult word, “taste” which I observe to be in considerably short supply in society today. People are not willing to take the time and effort to develop their own personal sensibilities through study or reflection but are prone to “go with the flow” from the “tastemakers” so as not to be seen as square and out of touch… so sad…

Jack Hanley, Jack Hanley Gallery, New York: I like something where the intensity of the experience of the person making it comes through. Maybe somebody is turned on by the nature of the materials, a psychological issue or some kind of narrative. Maybe some people have greater intensities of experience than others. What makes art good on a grander scale is how extraordinary and profound the components of those experiences are. Some artists are maybe better than others at tapping into their own idiosyncrasies and conveying them to others.

Justin Giarla, The Shooting Gallery, White Walls & 941 Geary, San Francisco: What makes good art is when you see a piece from across the room, you immediately fall in love with it without knowing anything about it and are in love with it forever.

Paul Kyle, Private Art Dealer, Elan Fine Art, Vancouver: A good work of art for me, is a piece that has the ability to awaken and remind me of my essence or the highest aspect of my being, if you will.  To successfully accomplish this, I as viewer, must be open to allowing the work to reveal itself to me without pre-judgement, what I call contempt prior to investigation. Also, a great work of art gets better the more it is viewed.  Often it is the work that has an immediate impact that is the one that wears thin over time, being the one with little real substance, as opposed to the one that takes time to reveal itself as the one with the greatest depth and meaning. There are certain elements however that the work must contain before the experience I seek is possible. Two elements that I look for in art are: Beauty and Elegance.  Beauty, not referring to “pretty” but beauty referring to directness and honesty.  Elegance is where there is nothing that can be added or taken away from the individual work.  This can only be accomplished by an artist with great technical competence and authentic original vision.

Alan Bamberger, itinerant artster, San Francisco: At its most fundamental level, good art is an effective combination of concept, vision and mastery of medium (the ability to get the point across). Good art is also uncompromisingly honest, unselfconscious, bold, ambitious, enlightening, original, challenging, and a feast for the senses. It doesn’t necessarily have to have all of these qualities, but at the very least it has to keep you coming back for more… and never ever bore.

art1An easy-to-understand book on how to buy, sell, evaluate, appraise, and collect art. Soft cover; 284 pages. By Alan S. Bamberger, noted art expert, author, and syndicated columnist. Available at



pop ART/celebrity CULTURE/cool ADS


This is the man who turned his creative eye towards consumerism in a brilliant manner.  I just came back from a mini vacation in Palm Springs where Warhol’s works inhabits many galleries including the Palm Springs Art Museum.  His influence is felt everywhere.  Which brings me to:

The Warhol Museum

Over the course of his career, Andy Warhol transformed contemporary art. Employing mass-production techniques to create works, Warhol challenged preconceived notions about the nature of art and erased traditional distinctions between fine art and popular culture. The Andy Warhol Museum’s permanent collection is comprised of more than 8,000 works of art by Warhol including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, film, videotapes, and extensive archives that consists of ephemera, records, source material for works of art, and other documents of the artist’s life. Together, the art and archives make The Andy Warhol Museum the most comprehensive single-artist museum in the world.

In 1964 one visitor upon seeing Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes at the Stable Gallery questioned “Is this an art gallery or supermarket warehouse?”Andy Warhol - Greatest Hits - Copy

The Andy Warhol Museum is located at: 117 Sandusky St, Pittsburgh, PA – USA.  It is the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single artist.

For those who want a little piece:

All of these FAB Warhol ART books were spotted at Just Fabulous – Palm Springs.Andy Warhol - Cans - CopyAndy Warhol - Bananas - Copy

Andy - Coca-Cola

book at Just Fabulous
 Just Fabulous BOOKS

Check out our book board in PINterest at:

Culture/ART – Therapy for the Soul

A home without ART is just an empty space

Joseph Kyle - Radiance #1, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 72 inches
Joseph Kyle – Radiance #1, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 72 inches

“There is a point where beauty meets truth,

Where wisdom meets delight,

Where heaven meets earth,

It is to this vision of the sublime

That my painting aspires.” –  Joseph Kyle


What is art for?  We’re discovering that Art can act like therapy for the soul.  This makes perfect sense to me.  Different paintings evoke different feelings in each individual & have the ability to move you the same way that hearing a certain song makes you feel.  And, as everything tastes better with the right wine, everything looks better with the right ART.

The American Art Therapy Association describes art therapy as “a mental health profession” that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.” Now there’s a new book on the subject, appropriately entitled “Art as Therapy.”

artastherapyArt as Therapy is packed with 150 examples of outstanding art, architecture and design, while chapters on Love, Nature, Money and Politics show how art can help with many common difficulties, from forging good relationships, finding happiness, to coming to terms with mortality.  This book seeks to help us develop a deeper understanding of art and of ourselves in equal measure, providing fascinating reading for those who are familiar with art as well as those who are new to the subject.         About:                  

    Art as Therapy at Home

Written by Alain de Botton (author and founder of The School of Life) and John Armstrong (philosopher & art theorist), showing us how to look at and understand art in a completely novel way. In 2014, they will be guest curating both at the Art Gallery of Ontario and at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum according to this new framework. And below, Alain shows us how, in an ideal world, he might curate the walls of a home. Fascinating stuff that makes us re-think how we might approach hanging art in our own surroundings.

Why does it matter what’s on the walls of our homes? Our sensitivity to our surroundings can be traced back to a troubling feature of human psychology: to the way we harbor within us many different selves, not all of which feel equally like ‘us’, so much so that in certain moods, we can complain of having come adrift from what we judge to be our true selves – in part, because the walls look wrong

Unfortunately, the self we miss at such moments, the elusively authentic, creative and spontaneous side of our character, is not ours to summon at will. Our access to it is, to a humbling extent, determined by the places we happen to be in, by the color of the bricks, the height of the ceilings and the art on the wall. In a house strangled by three motorways, or with drab wallpaper or in a wasteland of rundown tower blocks, our optimism and sense of purpose are liable to drain away, like water from a punctured container. We may start to forget that we ever had ambitions or reasons to feel spirited and hopeful.

We depend on the art in our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need – but are at constant risk of forgetting we need – within.  Art can help us in many ways; identified below are a few descriptions & suggestions of where one might hang them.”

Hope in the Kitchen

Henri Matisse, Dance (II), 1909; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Henri Matisse, Dance (II), 1909; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

“Matisse shows us an ideal image of women dancing in solidarity and joy. The French painter was not in denial of the troubles of this planet. But he wished to encourage us in an attitude of optimism, which he knew it can be hard for us to nurture and hold on to.

We should be able to enjoy an ideal image without regarding it as a false picture of how things usually are. A beautiful, though partial, vision can be all the more precious to us because we are so aware of how rarely life goes as we would like it to. We should be able to enjoy Matisse’s dancers without fearing that we are thereby colluding with a subterfuge played on a gullible public. The ideal it stands for is genuinely noble.

If the world were a kinder place than it is, perhaps we would be less impressed by, and in need of, pretty works of art. One of the strangest features of experiencing art is its power, occasionally, to move us to tears, not when we are presented with a harrowing or terrifying image, but when we see a work of particular grace and loveliness which can be, for a moment, heartbreaking. Matisse’s dancers might do this to us. What is happening to us at these special times of intense responsiveness to beauty? We are recognizing an ideal to which we are deeply attached, but from which we are too often alienated. The work of art helps us to see how much is missing and how deeply we would like things to be nicer than they are.

Rebalancing in the Dining Room

Hiroshi Sugimoto, North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York picture © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Pace Gallery
Hiroshi Sugimoto, North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York picture © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Pace Gallery.

“In Sugimoto’s photograph of the North Atlantic, we are in an undefined still vastness made up of only sea and sky.  A tranquil state of mind is supremely valuable in connection with many of the lesser troubles of life. Our capacity to get infuriated (and hence, usually, make matters worse by flying off the handle) is often driven by a refusal to accept how things are. Another person simply isn’t very interested in what we think; the world is not going to re-organize itself in sensible ways; the traffic just will be maddeningly slow, the train over-crowded. At times, we should know how to close down our hopes and give ourselves over to the contemplation of all that we will never be able to alter, here symbolized by the even, pure tones of an eternal horizon.  Sugimoto hasn’t just photographed the sea. He has provided us with a work that captures an attitude of mind to be summoned up at times of trial.”


Collectible Art by an original – Canadian Artist Joseph Kyle (1923-2005)

Delve within yourself to feel something that is incapable of expression in any but purely visual terms.  These paintings awaken your spirit.  It is to experience all without limits, it is to be infinite.  It is beyond categories.

Epiphany #5, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 inches.
Epiphany #5, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 inches.

Kyle’s background in contemporary classical music composition was a key inspiration to how he approached painting.  His ideas came from inside and not from an external reference. The composer must invent his form – he does not have a tree or a figure to copy, this form is drawn and realized from within.

Coherence in form, structure, shape, idea, colour and movement – each having a clear intentional relationship to the other.  Some might have categorized his work as geometric colour-field abstraction but Kyle rejected this term, preferring instead to using the word “Synoptics” – a description he originated and felt best represented his work.  Unique in concept, Syn-optics refers to “seeing as a whole.”  It is the ability to synthesize shape and colour on an equal footing and not as one reflecting or enhancing another. Kyle’s work forces the viewer to perceive an entire painting as an interactive whole rather than an assembly of individual compositional devices.  Symmetry, in Kyle’s hands, is not a compositional device.  It is a primal act whereby the chaos of the blank canvas is brought to order and activated.  The result is veil-like and ethereal.  Powerful.  The spiritual connotations of transparency are manifold. It evokes transcendence, purity, perfection of soul.

Synoptica #19, acrylic on canvas, 2002, 72 x 60 inches.

 The Canadian Cultural Review Board designated Joseph Kyle’s paintings as having “outstanding significance and national importance.” Kyle’s work has been collected for a number of important private and corporate collections throughout Canada. He is represented exclusively by Vancouver based Elan Fine Art Ltd  604.568.5709

Art Therapy – taken from goop magazine #12

Joseph Kyle – taken from a 22 page article written by Debra Usher for Arabella Magazine (Canadian Art, Architecture & Design).

Book Review: ‘When I read through Art as Therapy, paintings that I had long admired suddenly became new when seen through the filter of self-awareness and exploration. Really, a gem of a book.’  Gwyneth Paltrow,

Side note: Doctors noted that individuals suffering from mental illness often expressed themselves in drawings and other artworks, which led many to explore the use of art as a healing strategy.

What about you?  How do these make you feel?