Last year, two of the country’s top museums—J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and MoMA PS1 in New York—mounted not exhibitions, but salad gardens, on their grounds. But according to Julia Sherman, the artist who conceived the projects, the line between art and food can be blurry: “Artists happen to love to cook. Sometimes, it’s a more immediate outlet for ideas we’re struggling to figure out in the studio.” In 2011, Sherman was fresh out of Columbia University’s MFA program and frustrated by her studio practice—so she turned to her kitchen. Soon after, Salad for President was born. First a Tumblr where Sherman chronicled her culinary experiments, Salad for President has since become a shape-shifting website where food and art converge: interviews with artists are flanked by the recipes they’ve crafted, bolstered by a drool-inducing Instagram feed that’s garnered a cult following.
Most recently, Sherman has taken to building gardens and inviting artists to play with them. At the Getty, her plot was perched on a deck that boasted the museum’s legendary view of the San Fernando Valley. She grew a whole spectrum of heirloom lettuces, six different varieties of basil, and edible violets, borage, and calendula. Among the beds, artists like Victoria Fu and Julian Hoeber, and Robert Irwin tossed greens and talked about their work, while Ed Ruscha and Larry Bell screened a film they made together, featuring Bell assembling a massive, late-night salad on the sheets of a motel room bed. And on one sunny afternoon, Sherman invited legendary Los Angeles architect Harry Gesner back to a little-known home he designed on the Getty’s campus—the Scantlin House. This video documents their afternoon together, during which they pick fresh horseradish from the Getty Salad Garden, muse over the changing landscape of Los Angeles, and don gas masks as they prepare a Gesner-family recipe. In Sherman’s hands salad, like art, becomes a site of conversation.
Directed by Felipe Lima.
Produced by Salad For President, the J. Paul Getty Museum Department of Education, and Chopt Creative Salad Company.