A Different Type of Lunch Break

Get out of the tunnels and experience food as art.

By Natalie Harms November 17, 2014

Image: Kim Coffman

The floating candies look good enough to eat—but don't. Everything in the exhibit is made from inedible materials like resin or plastic.

When your colleagues mention heading for One Allen Center during the lunch break, go with them. But as they leave to linger in the lines of the food court, break away and head instead to the main floor gallery and delve into a nostalgic, non-edible lunch experience that is the Through the Lunchbox art exhibit by Paul Kittelson. 

Through the Lunchbox
By Paul Kittelson 
One Allen Center Gallery 
500 Dallas St.
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thru Jan 5

Kittelson, who brought Houston iconic sculptures like the Disappearing Gnomes downtown and the oversized lawn chairs that until recently graced the grassy median along Heights Blvd., has been working with food sculptures for 20 years, and the free exhibit in One Allen Center Gallery hosted by Arts Brookfield is a culmination of his career.

Even though patrons can’t nibble on the encased donut sculptures or taste the fake candy hanging from the ceiling, the images evoke something else altogether.

Everyone is familiar with food—a jar of olives might remind us of an aunt who always snacked on them or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might makes us as happy as we were when we ate them every day in seventh grade.

Image: Kim Coffman

Patrons got to snack on actual popsicles during the opening reception last week.

“We have a certain relationship with food, we may not with other things,” Kittelson says. “It’s a subject we relate to in a very kind of tactical sort of way, and making sculptures that relate to it kind of opens those sort of memories in peoples minds.”

Image: Kim Coffman

Artist Paul Kittelson's food gallery is 20 years in the making.

The exhibit is eclectic, as if you’re searching through memories in an attic or a box of belongings, and since it’s food sculptures, Kittelson used the term “Lunchbox”. But it’s also other-worldly, which connects the exhibit to its Wonderland homage. “There are things like the flying picnic table and doing the impossible—like the rocking chair that’s rocking itself, or a refrigerator that’s glowing like it’s introducing another reality or another world.”   

Even if the the idea of staring at food you can’t eat doesn’t tempt you, know that the pieces are—at the very least—pretty. Curator Sally Reynolds has brought One Allen Center many art exhibits over the past couple decades. She said the incredible access to natural lighting is so rare, yet important for exhibits like Kittelson’s. The sky light lets the sun’s rays sprinkle the hanging candies and flying picnic table.

And Kittelson doesn’t want you to take it too seriously. His intention was more satirical than serious. “We certainly take art very seriously and we’ve started to take food very seriously, and I always like poking fun at things that take themselves too seriously.”

So pack your own lunch and check out Paul Kittelson’s instead.

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