Fredericksburg, TX

This painting is not about the giant peaches they put in the ice cream but more about the effort it takes this laborer to make it. It looks pretty hard. “We put blood, sweat and tears into our product.  Mostly sweat.”

Nashville, TN

According to the text you can get ribs and catfish, but the mischievous chef is also pushing a lot of apple, grapes, parsnips and a wedge of some kind of cheese. That looks like almost too much to carry at once.

Jackson, MS

Jackson, MS. I feel half-tipsy already looking at that painted sign. The steeply tilted pool table, the sloppy drunk floating head and glass. Curious choices are made regarding the layering of cue sticks, rack, burger image and shark image. Possible the burger and shark were there first. All the imagery presumably represents things you’ll see inside Dot’s Lounge, which raises questions about the shark. With all due respect to the rules, that wall is begging to be loitered against. Ubiquitous asterisk flourish.

(Photo by Ashleigh Coleman)

Bronx, NY

This aggressive painting by The Royal Kingbee is obscured by an ice machine. In fact, between the ice machine and the deep field of vision with distant water, this one in the Bronx has a lot in common with this one in Nashville. A full third of the well-considered painting is hidden from view, but I wouldn’t anticipate the hidden area giving any more guidance for how to apprehend this image: Why the angry sandwich bearer; why the tropical theme, and so on. However, the light on the sandwich is convincing as all heck.

Monterey, TN

This old woman (you can see her gray bun) (behind the brown and green bun) is struggling to carry a gigantic hot dog. One wonders if the hamburger sprouted hairy man legs, or if a man was carrying it and it engulfed his torso. Either way he’s not in a position to help. An unsettling grouping.

Half Moon Bay, CA

Whatever Chef Pepe’s hand is used for, it has seen a lot of action. But staying on topic (hand-painted food signs), the sandwich is competently rendered, a confident and inviting symmetrical splay. The surface of the toast is very credible. The flowing text banners, the corner embellishments and pointing hand instead of arrow all indicate a Victorian, or at least “historical” identity. Though it’s a little hard to concentrate with Chef Pepe standing there.

(photo by J. Eichman)

San Francisco, California

This informational painting highlights the tools and techniques of Italian delicatessenship.  Stylish pedestrians on Chestnut St. in the Marina District are not just looking for sustenance but for food that has been stretched, sliced, tweezed and rolled with specialty rollers made by grandparents in home-countries.  In other words, this sign in not selling ravioli, but artisan-ness.

Pecos, Texas


The left panel of this grand butcher shop diptych (one could be forgiven for calling it an altarpiece) is less tense in feeling. A customer gives the side-eye to the flacid two and a half pound chicken corpse, which she’s thinking will go nicely with several dozen eggs and a slice of peach-colored loaf. Judging by the lovely Modern era ceiling fan, the well-observed decorative butcher paper dispenser, the out-on-the-town cap and scarf, this painting must date from the golden age of Pecos butchery (assuming there was such an age). The eggs remind me of this painting by Sir Cedric morris.

Pecos, Texas


In this painting, no effort is put into playing down the psycho-killer associations we have with butchers.  The searing but vacant stare of the butcher, the purposeful arrangement of ‘sharps’ and prominent over-head cleaver and hacksaw.  Do butchers really store they cleavers above their heads with binder clips?  They even went to the trouble of painting the two separate colored electrical wires that hold the bare bulb to the ceiling.  I imagine the bulb flickering as we realize that’s not a pencil in his pocket, but a finger.

This is less a portrait of food as it is a portrait of the tools of the butcher.  A trade painting.  Along the lines of this painting from the 13th century (oh, maybe they do store knives above their heads).

Nashville, Tennessee


The food takes a back seat in this little vignette.  She doesn’t appear to like the way he’s looking at her, what with his work boot all untied.  He didn’t come here just for that plate of smears and empty glass.  Oh, or may he’s already finished and she’s bussing the table.  That may explain his look of satisfaction, and untied boot.

(photo by John Baeder)

Pecos, Texas


Here is a full figure, sly and slightly elfin in stature.  Her proximity to the sidewalk hints at trompe l’oeil.  Some interesting invention happening where her hands, plate and cakes meet.  Auch, cinderblocks; I’m making a new category for those as well.

Croton Falls, New York


Going in with both hands.  This is the first painting posted here that has a human presence… requiring a new category:  “Food with Human(s)”  Wonderful colors and line quality straight out of 15th century Siena.  Strangely reminds me of this Simone Martini painting, which also kind of includes hand-painted food, though I suppose that’s a theological issue.  Same table angle.