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MK Guth: when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain

October 8 - December 9, 2012

"When from a long distant past nothing subsists after the things are broken and scattered, the smell and taste of things remain."~ Marcel Proust

Inspired by Proust and a long history of artworks using and commenting on food, Oregon artist MK Guth is launching a new body of work this fall with the exhibition "when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain." M.K. Guth uses art to deepen conversation. "when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain" will use handmade books, sculpted serving pieces and utensils to materially propose and symbolize potential dinners inspired by art, music, places, relationships or milestones.

Guth is best known for projects in which viewers' concerns are woven into ever-lengthening braids of synthetic hair, including the expression of the desires of thousands of Americans gathered by the artist across the county and presented in "Ties of Protection and Safekeeping" at the 2008 Whitney Biennial. She has just completed the final project in that series and has begun a very different body of work for The Art Gym. In the new work, Guth will continue to make art that brings people into a cultural conversation—this time about the role of food in discussions of art and life.

Like a number of MK Guth's previous works, "when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain" builds on a familiar setting for social interaction. Where her project Red Shoe Delivery Service used the shared ride, and the braid projects tapped the intimacy of braiding another's hair, the new work uses the fundamental act of sharing food as a framework. Like the previous projects, the shared experience is scored, choreographed, orchestrated. Books providing instructions and recipes join with objects for eating and serving to provide the script for future dinners—Dinner for John Cage (based on the composer's Mushrooms et Variationes), Dinner for the Woods, Dinner for Crying.

-Terri M. Hopkins, Director and Curator, The Art Gym

Conversations Around the Table

The artist will host a series of conversations about food around a large table built for the exhibition. Speakers will include Dr. Patricia Allen, director of Marylhurst's new master's degree in Food Systems & Society; Dr. Keri Sanburn Behre, member of faculty of the Department of English of Marylhurst University; Philip and Gayle Neuman, members of the Marylhurst University music faculty; artist Crystal Baxley; and Stephanie Snyder, Director and curator of the Cooley Gallery at Reed College.

  • October 18, 12pm: MK Guth discusses her exhibition when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain
  • October 25, 12pm: Dr. Keri Behre, Understanding Shakespeare's Apples
  • November 1, 12pm: MK Guth and Maggie Rogers of the Oregon Mycological Society, Searching for Mushrooms
  • November 8, 12pm: Philip and Gayle Neuman, Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Drinking Songs
  • November 15, 12pm: Crystal Baxley, Food in Art History
  • November 29, 12pm: Stephanie Snyder, Daniel Spoerri – Art and Food
  • December 6, 12pm: Dr. Patricia Allen, What's on Our Plates: Creating an Equitable Food System

Please reserve your chair at the table by emailing Terri Hopkins:

Our latest publication: MK Guth

Available in The Art Gym—$25

Or by email: (add $5 for shipping and handling)

In conjunction with the exhibition, The Art Gym is publishing a book on the artist's recent projects, including Red Shoe Delivery Service, the lenticulars, and the braid projects. Titled MK Guth, the book includes essays by artist and scholar Thomas Zummer, art critic Kirsten Swenson and artist Molly Dilworth; and reprints of articles by art historian Dr. Juliette Peers and curator Stephanie Snyder. The 150-page hard cover book discusses the work leading up to and laying the groundwork for the new body of work "when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain."

Once the exhibition is installed, a brochure documenting the new work in will be published to accompany the hardcover book. The publication MK Guth joins The Art Gym's more than sixty-five books and catalogs on art created by artists based in the Pacific Northwest.

About MK Guth

M.K. Guth is a visual artist residing in Portland, Oregon. She works in video, photography, sculpture, performance and interactive based exchange projects. Her 2011 exhibition Best Wishes at the Cosmopolitan P3 Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada, was reviewed by Kirsten Swenson for Art in America. Swenson is one of the contributors to the book The Art Gym is publishing on Guth's recent work. Guth's work has also been discussed in periodicals including NY Times, Flash Art, Art Forum on line, New Art Examiner. She is a recipient of a Betty Bowen Special Recognition Award administered through Seattle Art Museum and an Award of Merit from the Bellevue Art Museum. Guth received a project commission from the Portland Institute for the Arts (PICA) and a project commission from the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

Guth has exhibited with numerous galleries and institutions including, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; Boise Art Museum; Melbourne International Arts Festival, Australia; Nottdance Festival, Nottingham, England; Swiss Institute, New York City; Betty Moody, Houston, Texas; White Columns, New York City; Artists Space, New York City; Yerba Buena, San Francisco; Henry Art Museum, Seattle; A Gentil Carioca Gallery, Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

Guth's video has screened both nationally and internationally. MK Guth is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland Oregon and is an assistant professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Bad at Sports interviewed MK Guth about her exhibition "when nothing else subsists, smell and taste remain." You can read the full interview at their blog.


The MK Guth exhibition and publication was made possible in part by a major grant from The Ford Family Foundation of Roseburg, Oregon. This generous gift, which is part of the foundation's initiative in the visual arts honoring the late Hallie Ford, greatly expanded the scope of the project. The Art Gym is particularly pleased to be able to use a significant portion of the grant to fund the artist's creation of new work for the exhibition. Funding was also provided by the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, Linda Hutchins and John Montague, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Work for Art, the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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