When the moon hits your eye

Local artists showing at an exhibition dedicated to pizza

If you’re too intoxicated to look up the phone number for a pizzeria, and don’t possess the coordination to focus on more than one number at a time, all you need to do in Winnipeg is keep pressing the 2  button. Eventually a receptionist for Pizza Hotline will pick up.

Local artists are dedicating an entire exhibition to this culinary masterpiece. The show, Art Pieces of Pizza, was organized by Billie Proper (a pseudonym for a mysterious local artist) and will be held at Natural Cycleworks  in the Exchange district.

“Art shows can be very serious and there needs to be a lot of thought put into your piece,” says Proper. “And the relief I had, and that I heard from other people when I asked if they wanted to participate was strong. This is [a] great cathartic experience. Pizza. Fun. Go with it. And at the same time, all the pieces that came [in] were very solid; people did spend time with it.”

“The whole show probably came together in about fifteen minutes,” Proper says. “I don’t have Facebook, and I called Toby [Gillies, one of the contributors in the show] and in about a quarter of an hour we had all the artists picked.”

“Everybody loves pizza,” says Josh Ruth, a co-collaborator with Helga Jakobson on the work titled That’s Amore. “There’s all these associations that I have with pizza, and collective collaboration, and major transitions or major events in my life because that’s the go-to food. You know that everybody’s going to be able to enjoy it.”

Ruth and Jakobson’s work was created using a sheet of paper draped over a homemade pizza to absorb the cheese’s grease. The affected paper was then placed in front of a light box and backlit with a spectacular result. “I thought it was a really great opportunity to stretch my muscles and explore art in a way that I wouldn’t normally do,” says Jakobson, who graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours from the University of Manitoba in October 2013 and recently completed a residency program at the Banff Centre.

“Trying to still use materials and processes that stay true to my art practice while exploring a topic that maybe I wouldn’t explore in my art, and to work with somebody collaboratively was also a stretch for me, and it felt really good to explore another area,” she says.

“Pizza is found throughout pop art and contemporary art,” explains Proper. “Bands, zines, television shows, visual art – it’s so easily accessible and everyone can relate to it.”

In 2012, author Mike Coley and illustrator George Collum released a book titled The Mona Pizza: A Portrait of Music and Food. The book, published by Belly Kids, features recipes from different artists including the band Japanther and comedian Roseanne Barr.

Record label co-founder Chris Clavin (pseudonym of Chris Johnston) recently published the second edition of a book about the history of the punk record label Plan-It-X Records, called Free Pizza For Life, Or, The Early Days Of Plan-It-X Records. The book is about the work Clavin and partner Samantha Dorsett did for the label, while also detailing the scams they ran to acquire free pizza which eventually led to Dorsett’s incarceration.

Jay Howell, visual artist, zine creator, and co-owner of the record label Mt. St. Mtn. is also part of the group Forest City Rockers whose short film Jammers Pizza! is mostly a faux-television advertisement for an imaginary pizza parlour that will make pizza in any shape you can think of, except an iPod. Howell also is one of the creators of the television shows Bob’s Burgers on Fox and Sanjay and Craig on Nickelodeon.

Now, one the most popular foods will have its own art show. And yes, there will be pizza there, including gluten-free and vegan options.

Come check out Art Pieces of Pizza at Natural Cycleworks, in the basement of 91 Albert Street starting  Apr. 4 at 7 p.m. and running for a few weeks.