EVENT: Gastronomique, his installation of a series of sculptures of place settings displaying gruesome and unlikely dishes featuring lizards, at Martin-Zambito Fine Art (721 E Pike St, 726-9509) through Wed Jan 3. On Thurs Jan 4, the work will appear at a one-night show/reception at Forgotten Works Studio (619 Western Ave, Fourth Floor), 7-9 pm.
What is Gastronomique? "Gastronomique is an imaginary French restaurant which serves such fine dishes as Herb-Marinated Blind Salamander with Goat Cheese, and Skewered Monitor with Creamed Peas."
What is up with this freaky project? "One of my favorite ideas is Surf 'n' Turf, that we can gather different species and eat them at once to stake our claim as king of the land mammals. I'm fascinated as well by the French culinary compulsion to stuff animals into each other. I've also got baby chuckwalla in puff pastry."
What's a chuckwalla? "It's another lizard. They live in the desert, and to escape predators, they'll run into a crack and puff themselves up. They're hell to get out of there, but believe me, it's worth the wait."
How do you make your sculptures look so real? "I make silicon molds of the stuff that's too hard to carve. The lizards are carved, but the tiny vegetables, like peas, I mold. The sauces are so toxic. I'm careful, but I've got to start working with some safer materials or I'm gonna look stupid dying at 30--they're epoxy, polystyrene resins, dye, and some actual foodstuffs like pectin and bread crumbs. No animals were harmed in the production of these sculptures, except, of course, probably a dozen white mice and some horses, to make the glue and test the chemicals."
You didn't train as an artist. "No. I did about 10 minutes of liberal arts college in Colorado, where I grew up. I'm a roofer by trade. This project started as very political art--I was vegan. Then I redeveloped an appetite for meat while simulating Danish bacon. I experiment a lot. I'll leave a piece of plastic bread on the table and see if anyone goes for it. If they don't, it's not there yet."