Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Art and Eats

The press release for the new show at Spaces -- Farmed: The New Agronomists (May 13-July10), got me all excited. The actual exhibit- not so much. In fact, not at all.

Described as “the ideal marriage between art and local agriculture,” the artists’ work was to address themes related to production of food and other goods, exploring "the harsh realities of the economics, genetic and environmental concerns that farmers address daily.” Went to the opening on Friday night. The ideas behind the installations are interesting. The execution isn’t. This is conceptual art so that apparently is not supposed to matter. There are a small number of actual pieces and they are almost uniformly dry, sterile and intellectualized. Pardon the play on words but these subjects are by definition earthy and grounded -- it seems a travesty to render them in such a way that all the life and energy is sucked out. The two exceptions were real squiggly silkworms -- you can even take some home -- and a mixed media piece containing live plants.

Nothing spoke to me of food, except the snacks on the table, which I'm pretty sure were not part of the show. Mostly, I found the whole experience boring. Call me a philistine but I don’t get it. Maybe you do and I encourage all to go, look, and come to your own conclusions.

The evening was saved by a drop-in at Dragonfly, a lounge and restaurant a few blocks down W. 25th Street. Marlin Kaplan, who became a partner and took over the kitchen side of the business in March, has reengineered the menu. His theme is pan-Asian and the two dishes the husband and I tried- crispy lobster pot stickers and the OCD (Ohio City Development) roll made with spicy scallop salad, crab, and avocado- were clean-the-plate-great. Server did not need to ask if we were done- there was nothing, not even a drop or a drizzle of sauce, left. I wanted more- pork shoulder meatballs, spicy Thai wings, and a Chinese Bolognese (love the name and the notion) but we were heading to Tremont for Art Walk so I had to leave it for next time.

The bar continues to specialize in classic cocktails. A Singapore Sling was my drink of choice and I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of gin, cherry heering, pineapple, lime, Benedictine, and bitters. Just the thing for warm weather, if warm weather, which showed up briefly last week, ever returns.

Marlin gave me the penny tour. The dining side now has real tables (instead of the high-tops that formerly filled the room) and a nice curved booth dubbed the chef’s table. The tiny patio out back will soon be getting a major makeover. Plans are for a high lofted deck over the bar with seating for 60 and skyline views. I’ll definitely be back to enjoy that and more of Kaplan’s inspired culinary creations.

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