Creative Time’s Artist-Chef Collaborations

Last summer, when I was still living in NYC, I was invited to attend a dinner at Park Avenue Summer in honor of artist Paul Ramirez Jonas to kick off his “Key to the City” project with Creative Time, a non-profit that seeks to convert the power of artists’ ideas into public art works.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was witnessing what would become four seasonal series of installations collaborated between Park Avenue, Creative Time and major contemporary artists, Marina Abramovic, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Janine Antoni, and Michael Rakowitz. Park Avenue is an award winning, Upper East Side restaurant that redesigns its entire décor, food and beverage menus, and name, with each passing season.  Fittingly, the restaurant currently goes by Park Avenue Summer through early September.

Launched in January 2011, Park Avenue has realized three of the four artist-chef collaborations, curated by Creative Time.  Each artist works closely with Park Avenue Executive Chef Kevin Lasko on the development of new food collaborations to be released seasonally.  The final collaboration will be in Fall 2011 with artist Michael Rakowitz.

Now through September 4th, Park Avenue Summer is featuring the collaboration, In & On, between Chef Kevin Lasko and artist Janine Antoni.  Janine Antoni’s In & On references classic flavors and scents of summertime and explores the interconnectedness of what we put in and on our bodies.  Using fresh, local ingredients provided by community-owned urban program EATS, Antoni and Chef Lasko created three seasonal menu items that are accompanied with a skincare product made up of like ingredients.  Antoni partnered with organic skincare company Fat and the Moon to develop these products, and each diner receives a complimentary skincare item upon ordering their In & On menu item.  The pairings include:

  • Siren’s Breath – a cocktail of crop cucumber vodka, peach tea, and may chang, with a corresponding facial mist made of lemon balm, peach and may chang essential oils, and black tea.
  • Scales and Skin – a coffee-cured Hamachi and ginger pickled black plum appetizer, with a corresponding salt sugar scrub made of coconut coffee, coconut oil, brown sugar, and sea salt.
  • Sown Within – a Montauk tilefish, lavender mustard broth and artichoke entrée, with corresponding lavender soak made of lavender and lemon essential oils, ground mustard seed and sea salt.

“You shouldn’t put anything on your body that you can’t put in your body,” said Janine Antoni.  “Pores are just small mouths.”

Artist Janine Antoni received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 1986 and her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 1989.  She is best known for transforming everyday foods, products and activities, like chocolate, soap, eating, bathing and sleeping, into sculptural and artistic processes.  Her work has been shown in exhibitions nationally and internationally including the Venice Biennial, the Whitney Biennial, and the Johannesburg Biennial.  Her work is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Israeli Museum.  Antoni lives in New York and is represented by Luhring Augustine Gallery.



The four artist-chef collaborations launched at Park Avenue Winter with performance artist Marina Abramovic’s Volcano Flambé (below), a unique take on the popular dessert, Baked Alaska.  Made of dark chocolate ice cream, almond sponge cake and banana mousse encased in Swiss meringue, guests received a MP3 player and headset to hear the artist guide them through how to eat and fully experience the dessert.  Diners received a special collection of Spirit Cooking Recipes designed by Abramovic and based on a book:  Abramovic Spirit Cooking that was printed as a limited edition of 21 in collaboration with Jacob Samuel in Amsterdam in 1996.

Paul Ramirez Jonas’ Park Avenue Spring 2011 installation Plus One (below), was inspired by the social experience of dining out and how absent friends, family and acquaintances are often “present” in conversation, though not physically there.  Jonas and Chef Lasko began the meal with a beet-pickled egg with crème fraîche and caviar, accompanied by a glass of beet and rose water spring tonic.  An additional spare glass of beet/rose tonic was also presented on a bed of eggshells.  Over the course of the meal, the spare glass acted as a timepiece, slowly draining liquid that gradually transformed the color of eggshells beneath the glass.  Plus One stood for absent people brought to the table and physically measured the passage of time.


Park Avenue Summer is located at 100 East 63rd Street in Manhattan.  For dinner reservations to experience artist Janine Antoni’s In & On, call (212) 644-1900.

About Creative Time:

Since 1974, Creative Time has presented the most innovative art in the public realm.  The New York-based nonprofit has worked with over 2,000 artists to produce more than 335 groundbreaking public art projects that have ignited the public’s imagination, explored ideas that shape society, and engaged millions of people around the globe.

In 2007, the organization launched Creative Time Consulting, which works regularly with non-profit, civic and private groups to develop projects and advise on programs in public space.  Creative Time Consulting aims to bring the artist’s voice directly into cities and communities, creating opportunities to realize powerful new works that provide the public experiences with some of the most important art of our time.

For more information, check out creativetime.org.


All photos courtesy of Creative Time.


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2 Responses to “Creative Time’s Artist-Chef Collaborations”

  1. Meggan July 12, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Such an amazing and unique concept! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Scott July 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    My first thought was: fascinating. My second: Mom, you sure did miss the mark with the tuna casserole. Ugh. Your post reminds me of how much I love the experience of great eating, in addition to just great food. I wonder what the etiquette is with applying the skin care items at the restaurant. The soak could be a little hard to pull off, and the scrub kind of weird, but the mist could really bring out the natural flavors of the hamachi!

    Fantastic piece!

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