When the cake imitates art

When the cake imitates art

Pie by Christine Williams from world cookiesinspired by Honoré Daumier’s “Nayades de la Seine” (“Naiades de la Seine”) (1847) (all images courtesy of the Blanton Museum of Art)

As fans of figuring out whether something is an everyday object or a delicious baked good know, there’s almost nothing more fun than screaming.ask, “Is it cake??” For the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, the answer is a resounding “yes,” as the results of the third annual Great Blanton Bake-Off have been announced.

The competition, conceived in 2020 by Lizabel Stella, Blanton’s social media and digital content manager, asks art lovers and amateur and professional bakers to recreate a work from the Blanton’s collection as an edible treat. In addition to a regular collection and a host of contemporary exhibitionsthe museum is famous for “Ellsworth Kelly”Austin», integrated into the architecture of the museum.

“I feel truly honored that [participants] spend time in their personal life to create a work of art from our collection and they always seem to have fun with it,” Stella told the University of Texas student newspaper. The Texas Daily. “I feel like baking is something that appeals to all ages because it’s so multi-sensory. You can’t eat or smell the art…so it’s a whole new way for people to be interested in the art of our collection.

Amateur Adult Winner, Mona Lisa Printed Cake by Blythe Johnson, inspired by “Untitled, Meander Paintings, River” by Mac Wells (1968)

Competition was fierce in the amateur adult category, with riffs on everything from Ray Johnson to a Apulian red-figure plate dating from around 340 BCE. In the end, a competitive and humorous domain was eclipsed by expert work Mona Lisa Prints from Blythe Johnson. The technique involves baking a design directly into a sponge cake (rather than just using the decorative layer of the cake to feature the artwork), and is perfect for Mac Wells’ soft geometry. « Untitled, Meander Paintings, River(1968), in whose image it was created. Kudos to Lois Rodriquez for an iteration of the sculpture”The barefoot clown» (1999) by Tré Arenz (aka Tre Arenz) which offers the disgusting opportunity to eat a foot, and would surely have turned the table on Nailed it (You understand?!).

The Adult Professional category was a tighter competition, with a series of works on postcards from the Blanton collection, converted into cookies by Hannah Erwin, winning the top prize. This beat a pie by Christine Williams from Austin’s Cookies del Mundo bakery in what may be a miscarriage of justice, because cookie art is a medium with many possibilities for frosting, but pie offers ways limited and requires a sculptural touch. Either way, the results look delicious, which is hard to tell on a blue-tinted pie (you did the right thing with blueberry filling, Christine).

Finally, the Junior Bakers have arrived, a small field that proves there is hope for the future. The first prize was won by Georgia Gross, who meticulously reconstructed a tapestry by Luis Montiel in a friendly-looking fondant, but frankly, hats off to the raw ambition of runner-up Jules Beesley, who attempted a functional interpretation of Cildo Meireles’ 1987 installation work”Missão/Missões [Mission/Missions] (How to build cathedrals).” Beesley built a mesh-covered scaffolding over his cake, the top of which was adorned with gold shavings to mimic the 600,000 coins that filled the pit of Meireles’ coin. If we don’t have a baker on hand, we have at least one artest.

But really, everyone’s a winner when it comes to competitive baking, because even if you have to eat a humble pie, at least you can eat a regular pie too. As Stella pointed out in an interview with Smithsonian Magazinethe purpose of the event is to feel good.

“We’re going through a lot of tough stuff and political stuff right now,” Stella said. “It’s important to remember that it’s okay to take a break — not to ignore the things that are happening, but to take time for the things that move you,” Stella said. “It moves me. I am going to make a cake. It is very simple.”