Stella Cretek

You Say Potato, I Say Potatoe

By - Nov 18th, 2008 02:52 pm
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A few years ago when Whole Foods sprung up on the west end of North Avenue, their PR person put out a call for local artists. What this usually means when a new business materializes, is that artists are expected to hang their work for free. It’s a kind of art-as-wallpaper concept.

Anyway, Mike Brenner (the former proprietor of Hotcakes Gallery) took the bait and arranged for a bona-fide exhibit of his gallery artists. They failed to pass muster with the powers that be, i.e. Whole Foods deemed the work a bad fit for their particular product. picked up on the story and ran with it.

What a difference a few years make. Recently, while shopping for things I don’t need, a group of paintings caught my eye as I was about to take the down escalator to the parking garage. Most folks would never know they were there, tucked in a dead-end corner just beyond a display case hawking hemp hats and plastic water bottles. They looked quite a bit like paintings Mike Brenner might have had in his defunct gallery, though of far lesser quality. In any event, they weren’t paintings of organic tomatoes and green peppers. The tag near the grouping identified them as the work of someone in the store, a “Team” member, who perhaps was laboring in the frozen food department. I couldn’t make sense of the artist’s name, but I swear it translated from Spanish into something akin to “Devil Lobster.” I could be wrong.

Okay, so I’m near the parking garage downstairs and a pea-green “Call for Artists” poster catches my attention. It promises the artists that thousands of people monthly would view the artwork, that there would be an opening reception catered by Whole Foods’ in-store chef, and that the exhibit would be promoted in the monthly calendar, etc. It didn’t identify the three areas where the artists would have their work displayed, but I’d seen one of the areas and believe me it wasn’t exactly a high-traffic zone. I was the only one there, and that was sheer coincidence.

Artists who want to take this bait can pick up an application at the store’s Customer Service desk or online at

Just imagine how a show at Whole Foods would look on your resume. It’s not everyone that gets to exhibit near bunches of asparagus and heaps of organic fruit. Oh, I forget to mention that the exhibit opportunities include a chance to sell your pieces directly to the customers as they rush by.

On the fun side of life: A late October sign on the inside of a door at the downtown M & I Bank advises: For security reasons, please remove your Halloween mask before entering the bank.

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