Delicious Exhibition Features Food Captured Vividly in Paint

FOOD has long been a favorite subject of artists. For many centuries, in fact, it served specific symbolic purposes in religious and allegorical art. Since the late 17th century, however, painters have used food more for its ability to represent material abundance and for still-life arrangements. C'ezanne was master of this genre. Recently Wayne Thiebaud has been fashioning painted cakes and pies that not only look ``good enough to eat,'' but actually seem to be made of real dough, whipped cream, and icing. Other contemporary still-life artists, from John Wilde to John Stuart Ingle, celebrate food as something tasty and life-sustaining.

Now Martha Terrill of New York's Grand Central Art Galleries has turned to 66 American artists to assemble the gallery's current exhibition, ``The Food Show.''

In it, George Fisher and Jean Caruthers Wetta present us with tasty-looking pastry goods in ``Dessert'' and ``From the Baker,'' respectively. Andy Feehan and Charles Parness delight us with their wit and humor in ``The Lecture'' and ``Heavenly Host'' (a representation of an angelic cook, complete with wings, a chef's hat, and a cascade of ``heavenly'' food). And Robert Padilla celebrates the good life with a tableful of seafood in ``Still Life with Lobsters.''

Also outstanding are Scott Fraser's sparsely composed but succulently painted ``Bosque Pears''; Stella Dobbins's exquisitely designed and rendered watercolor, ``Foreign Resonances VIII''; James Del Grosso's almost mystical depiction of ``Scallions''; and Shain Bard's powerful ``New Scarf from the Rainbow Shop,'' for my money, the best oil in the show.

Almost everything on view distinguishes itself on purely technical grounds, because of its freshness and spontaneity, or simply because it puts a new twist on an old subject.

On view at the Grand Central Art Galleries, 24 West 57th Street, through this Friday.

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