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Food Is Art at Coconut Grove Arts Festival

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In a city where 20-somethings feel old, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival should be applauded for its longevity. Since 1963, when it began as a promotional tool for the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the festival has endured both our city's and art's changing moods to become one of the most popular juried art weekends in the nation.

An estimated 120,000 people attended the event to peruse the works of 360 artists, listen to music, and chow down on everything from candied almonds to "Hugh Jass" burgers.

And while the subjects of these paintings, collages, and glass sculptures were as varied as the world we live in, many artists chose to focus on a subject near and dear to everyone's heart -- food.

Here are the most creative pieces we found at the fair -- and the stories behind their creation.

See also: SoBeWFF's Vegan and Locavore Events With Zakarian, Andriola, and Teena's Pride

The inspiration for Kim Eubanks' The Foodie ABCs was the artist's daughters, depicted as a robust gourmand and a picky eater. Each letter is represented by a favorite food, except x, which, according to Eubanks, is "always for xylophone."

Chelsea Stone's Eye Candy by Chelsea turns retro school lunchboxes into wearable art. In this piece, Cookie Monster is featured as the king of snacktime.

Allison LaMons specializes in vintage neon signs -- both real and imagined. Her tribute to Publix's classic signs is an homage to Florida's favorite supermarket.

Can't decide what to drink tonight? Spin Beverly Hayden's Cocktail Wheel and let it decide for you. The artist wants her art to start a conversation. This time, it starts cocktail hour.

Ken Orton's lifelike paintings are so precise they're usually mistaken for photographs. The artist, who hails from Birmingham and Manchester in England, uses old "pumpkin seed" bottles as his muse. These bottles were filled with spirits and left on the nighttables of English hotels for guests to enjoy; call them the first minibar of sorts. About 3,000 of these bottles, preserved for decades under ash, were unearthed near the artist's sister's home.

Lorri Honeycutt of Big World Photo began snapping her whimsical photos by accident when a peacock photo-bombed her work. The artist places tiny figurines, usually an inch high, in precarious situations, often using real-scale food as the landscape. In A Race Against Time, little skiers must traverse ice-cream mountains before the sun rises too high in the sky.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.


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