The artist has also been known to host annual bake-offs at his home, where friends, including artists and amateur bakers, present their finest baked goods. Cotton always judges alongside a guest; one year, Stewart held the position. This year it was art critic Andrew Russeth.
As he lines two round cake pans with parchment, butter, and flour, he describes a timely cake from this year’s contest, which was shaped like a rock, with “Resist” scrawled graffiti-style in icing. “That took the prize this year—and it was very tasty.”
He disappears into a nearby closet, which is filled to the brim with equal parts art and baking supplies, and procures a large KitchenAid mixer. As we measure and sift together the dry ingredients, Cotton explains that he began baking in earnest in the mid-’90s, around the time that he started painting cakes.
Keen to create paintings of tall, whimsical stacks of cakes, he’d bought out two bakeries. The experience, both expensive and messy, spurred him to perfect his own baking skills. Though he’s taken a few classes at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) since then, “you can learn so much on YouTube now,” he says, “you almost don’t have to take a class.”