When Art and Food Unite – SMFA’s Student Gallery at Erbaluce

Posted February 12, 2015 by Cheryl Fenton in Theater & Arts
Neo Bygone

It’s no secret there’s an art to cooking. If there wasn’t, The Art of Cooking wouldn’t be the title of the very first known culinary guide. After all, beautifully prepared dishes can be considered masterpieces, and chefs artists.

Since art and food are likely bedfellows, why not get these two crazy kids together? The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) has embraced this concept and is making it happen as we speak. It recently began the first of four student art exhibitions in Downtown’s much-loved Italian restaurant Erbaluce.

“Both [Erbaluce] owners, Chef Charles Draghi and Joan Johnson, are very interested in the arts,” says the restaurant’s Event Coordinator Keira Leslie. “Joan went to college for art, specifically jewelry and metal work. Charles is a playwright and hosts Boston Playwrights Theatre play readings at Erbaluce on the second Sunday of every month.”

“When I joined Erbaluce in October 2014, the walls in the two private event rooms were pretty bare,” she continues. “I decided to reach out to local art schools to see if they would be interested in displaying student artwork. I wanted to host a series of public events that got another part of the community involved with the restaurant.”

Burgers on My Mind

Burgers on My Mind (acrylic on canvas) by James Dunbar. Photo Credit: Cheryl Fenton

Enter the SMFA. “SMFA is always looking for creative partners in the Boston community,” says Amanda Karr, director of marketing and communications. “When Keira reached out to us about an exhibition, it was a no-brainer.”

Giving a shoutout to the restautant’s Italian heritage by naming the exhibit the Italian word for “show,” Mostra I runs through March 9 and features paintings curated by SMFA senior Will Ferguson from student artists SaraMarie Bottaro, James Dunbar, Evan Gilbert, Audrey Hsia, Julia Kwon, Elsa Senner and Kristin Reeder. Displayed gallery style between the two event spaces on the second floor, most of the pieces are acrylic on canvas, but there are also oils, as well as ink and digital prints. Each piece proudly acknowledges the title, artist’s name and materials used with a proper accompanying wall label.

“I wanted our students to have the opportunity to share their talents and be seen by a larger community,” says Karr. “It’s also an excellent learning opportunity for our student curators, to go from the call for artwork stage through the opening reception. I would hope that this type of small, yet real-world training is a valuable addition to their studio and class work.”

See something you like? Almost all of the works of art are for sale, with price listings available upon request. And if you can’t get into Erbaluce before March 9 to enjoy the masterpieces of both Chef Draghi and SMFA, don’t worry. There are three more exhibits on the horizon—Mostra II, March 22 through May 9; Mostra III, May 15 though August 9; and Mostra IV, August 22 though Nov 9.

“Erbaluce is one of the best restaurants in Boston,” says Karr. “It’s innovative, local and, of course, supportive of the artistic community.”