April 11 2012 12:00 AM

Feast your eyes on 'Feeder' and 'eat here now'

Artist Anna Stump tests her Feeder performance.
Courtesy of Anna Stump

Two art exhibitions opening Saturday, April 14, in North Park focus on food, but the conversations they hope to inspire are as different as apples and oranges.---

Leslie Ryan, chair of landscape architecture at NewSchool of Architecture and Design, has organized eat here now, an investigation and exploration of turning city neighborhoods into functional urban farms.

More than a year ago, Ryan led a walking tour through a section of North Park, taking notes on where food was being grown, whether it was the parking-lot-turned-community-garden of Art Produce gallery or a family's backyard.

“The evolution has already begun,” she says, adding that even a decade or so ago, she wouldn't have spotted half the urban agriculture she saw on her walk.

The show, which opens at Art Produce (3139 University Ave.) in conjunction with Ray at Night from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 14, will include maps showing where food is grown, stories of interesting people involved with local food production and designs by students who've been asked to come up with graphics and images reimagining North Park's potential as an urban farm. Ryan says she hopes the exhibition, which will remain on view through May 12, will inspire community discourse and action.

“This is an important first step,” she says. “I think it's an essential discussion to have. It's one of those actions that has repercussions that go way beyond the front and back yard.”

Over at the always-experimental Garage 4141 gallery (4141 Alabama St.), participants in an exhibition called Feeder will be asked to have a different kind of discussion around the topic of food. From 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 14, the Feminist Image Group (FIG) will present an installation and performance piece in which artists will spoon-feed guests. Moya Devine, Jeanne Dunn, Daphne Hill, Susan Myrland, Anna Stump and others will show work, participate in the performance or both.

The imagery and the interactive performance examine women's roles as caregivers, taking on the task of feeding and nurturing the young, the old and the sick.

Stump, who recently tested out the performance at another exhibition, says the dichotomy between being a nurturer (in her case, a mom) and an artist is something with which she constantly struggles. She plans to talk about the issue one-on-one those who participate in the performance.

“I think that energy—to create or take care of someone—comes from the same place,” she says. “So, if you're a nurturer, you often don't have time to be an artist.”

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