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FoodCon IV: Bigger, broader, pasture-fed

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Ben Madeska's food-inspired paintings are on display at the Harrison Center for the Arts through the month.
  • Ben Madeska's food-inspired paintings are on display at the Harrison Center for the Arts through the month.

A lot can change in under a decade. "Five years ago there was a growing food movement in Indianapolis, but people didn't have a connection to the activities and those leading the movement," says Joanna Taft, executive director at the Harrison Center for the Art. "We also noticed that every year in August there were all of these gamers hanging out for GenCon. And we thought that if gamers can have GenCon, why can't foodies have FoodCon?"

Previous editions of FoodCon have focused on a single theme; the fourth edition, taking place July 5 (with some exhibits up through the month), is taking a little broader approach, inviting all manner of artists and activists to create work pertaining to food and nature, in general.

Ben Madeska will bring along his meat paintings (currently up at Goose the Market). "I've been exploring the connections between food and art for years," he says. "Food and art are both products of our culture, but we don't always think of food that way. Art can really help us both celebrate and think differently about the things we eat. Many of the food still life paintings are of things from Indiana - from my own yard, in some cases - so they fit very closely with idea of celebrating the art and culture of Indiana food."

For Marna Shopoff and Melissa Hopson, food and traveling go hand in hand. They recently traveled abroad - Shopoff to Italy, Hopson to Germany - and they've documented their experiences via a mixed-media installation complete with photographs, objects and paintings.

A chicken-based teachable moment during Food Con II. - TED SOMERVILLE
  • Ted Somerville
  • A chicken-based teachable moment during Food Con II.

"This exhibition was a unique opportunity for us to present more of our personal interests, aside from studio work," says Shopoff. "We both love food, leisure, socializing and travel - so it was a perfect fit." This is the first year either artist is exhibiting at FoodCon.

Also on the FoodCon manifest is Kelley Jordan Heneveld's show, Farm Stories, which will tell the stories of farms and farmers located both nearby and on the other side of the world (England, France). Plus the Garden Tower Project, which aims to provide city dwellers with a way to grow their own food in small spaces via self-contained vertical gardens. One container would allow an urban farmer to grow up to 50 plants in as little as four square feet of space. Composting (using kitchen scraps, worms and other biodegradable elements) is built into the tower.

The Harrison has partnered with Handsel Farms for a poster contest that would market the farm to a target audience that loves local, ethically raised food. Handsel Farms' beef is Black Angus, drug-free, pasture-fed and comes from a farm in Kingman, Ind.. Posters will hang in the City Gallery from July 5-29, and the winner will be selected during FoodCon.

Food education has long been a core part of the FoodCon experience, and a mini-fair will again feature local food providers and activists, from those knee-deep in hydroponics to a guy raising fish in his Near Eastside basement. This year's FoodCon coordinator, Leila Vanest, knows a little about living the locovore lifestyle. The 15-year-old Herron High School student and Fountain Square resident gets her milk from a cow share program and helps her family maintain an active garden.

Meanwhile, Delaware Street will host a mini food truck festival (without impeding traffic), including with tandoori tacos and Channa Naan wraps from Spice Box Indy, a Grilled Skirt Steak and roasted peppers sandwich with Corn Mayo from Scratch Truck, and other movable feasts from West Coast Tacos, Duos, Nicey Treat, KG Slider Station and Scout's Treat Truck.

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