Vancouver’s Cadeaux Bakery and local artist and entrepreneur, Rhek, collide in an explosion of neon coloured icing in our second edition of Food x Art. This Easter, the multi-talented artist traded in his stylus for an awkward paper piping bag and his canvas for Cadeaux’s shortbread cookies, bringing them to life with a style completely his own. Occasionally known as Alex Usow, Rhek is notorious in Vancouver for his beloved entrepreneurial ventures (Sharks + Hammers, Sea Monstr Sushi, Catalog Gallery), prolific digital art (see: @Rhek, Rhek Creative), and Alice-in-Wonderland brand of charm. He recently took the time to answer a few questions and do a little food-focused art for us.
How long have you lived in Vancouver? I came to Vancouver in 2000, back when it had more hippies than douchebags. I grew up in Nova Scotia and went to school in Montreal - both of which places harbour hatred for Toronto - so Vancouver won by default since the Prairies don’t exist. So what got you interested in art?
So what got you interested in art? I’m not sure, but as a youth I remember I needed to get a card for a friends birthday so my Mom took me to a store to look at them. Once I picked out the card I liked best my Mom said, “Great, now let’s go home and you can draw it because paying for birthday cards is silly”. So maybe I blame my Mom.
Favorite medium? Medium fries from McDonalds®
Who (or what) are your inspirations? Cy Twombly, Maud Lewis, Dust La Rock, Basquiat, Rza, The NY Knicks, Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche, Cheeseburgers, The Muppets, David Suzuki, Graffiti Tags, Sandra Bullock, Pizza, Fried Chicken, Produce Box Art, Jean-Luc Godard, Eddie Murphy, Dick Wolf’s Law & Order series, Jimi Hendrix, Max B and The Dipset, Coming Through Slaughter, Tom Sachs, Signs, Louis CK, Ralph Lauren, Robert Crumb, Rae Sremmurd, BNE, Harry Houdini, Vin Diesel and anyone who makes a living by being creative and doing what they love.
How important do you think the visual aspect is in relation to food? Very important as we first try food with our eyes which is probably why people don’t like escargot. As well, the look of food reveals the love and respect that it was made with (or lack of). Also, can we agree on no more sauces in foam form please and thank you.
What would your dream project be if you had an unlimited budget? Replacing the Statue of Liberties torch with a cheeseburger. Dropping a million super bouncy balls off the CNN tower and seeing them super bounce all over the place. Making every storefront on Robson street display roast Chinese ducks in their windows.
If you could only eat one meal/dish/food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Dumplings.
Most unusual meal you've ever eaten? The "Jesus Christ Slice" that a booze and drug fueled night in Halifax invented - a piece of BBQ chicken pizza with donair meat and sauce on it, topped with an entire poutine – very messy. And Horse Sashimi is quite delicious too.
Favourite type of cookie? The White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie from a quaint little spot called Subway®.
Artists in Vancouver you admire?George Vergette, Jeff Hamada, Andy Dixon, Chi Pig, Virus and the Sandwich Artists at my favourite cookie spot.
Anything else you want to plug/say/share?There’s nothing more comfortable than being honest. Also, make waves and eat everything.