Hors D'Oeuvre of the Season

This fall, the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) showcases a significant selection of 20th-century masters, but it’s also issued an open invitation to Austin children—to see the exhibit, of course, but also to make an informal mess with food. After all, that’s what sculptor Claes Oldenburg did.

“He was a rebel, fascinated with everyday objects, and food is a frequent subject,” says Dana Friis-Hansen, AMOA’s director. “He shows us things we never thought of before. Such as a giant, vinyl BLT sandwich.”

Or an oversized bouquet of soft-sculpture French fries.

These famous works, on loan from New York’s Whitney Museum, are part of the AMOA exhibit known as Extra-Ordinary: The Everyday Object in American Art.

“We’ve also got an Andy Warhol soup can,” Dana says, “a Roy Lichtenstein still life, with fruit, and Eggs, by William Bailey, a realist painter.”

That sounds like fun for the whole family, but it gets better on September 23. During the citywide Austin Museum Day, AMOA will offer kids an entrée to the food-as-art lifestyle.

Education and Exhibits Director Eva Buttacavoli thought first of using cupcakes and frosting as art supplies. “But then I found these nontoxic food pens,” she relates, “and we decided to give kids a piece of bread, let them draw on it, and then have them pop it into a toaster.”

A trial run with five AMOA interns inspired toast paintings ranging from a postmodern pat of butter to an American flag.

“It was the funnest thing,” Eva remembers. But because most toast artists ended up eating their work, no evidence remained. Which is why Eva ordered stickers printed with the words I Ate My Art Today. “I hope kids will wear them all over town,” she says.

Could this be the dawn of the fifth basic food group?

EXTRA-ORDINARY—The Everyday Object in American Art runs through November 5 at the Austin Museum of Art, 823 Congress Ave., 512-495-9224. The Austin Museum Day event will be held September 23, noon to 5 p.m., free admission.