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Putting The 'Art' Into The Art Of Chocolate

The Art of Chocolate is a festival that's been tickling taste buds for a good cause for six years now. But 2011 is the first year that organizers will really be putting the 'Art' into the event.

34 local artists have contributed work to an online art auction. Proceeds will benefit Options for Better Living, a southern Indiana organization dedicated to serving people with disabilities. Artwork will be displayed alongside eight local chefs who'll present their chocolate creations. This event promises to live up to its title.

The Artistic Side Of Chocolate

Artist Dan Alexander's connection to the Art of Chocolate goes deeper than just that of a contributing artist. He works as a Direct Support Professional at Options for Better Living.

Alexander will be making a live appearance at the event, where he'll create a work of art using chocolate as a medium. Creating chocolate that's the right color and consistency for application on a canvas is a trial-and-error process. Once the dark chocolate and white chocolate morsels are melted down, he adds milk to thin the paste and colored dyes to approximate his desired hues.

But is this chocolate-paint edible? It sure is! In fact, the dyes Alexander uses in his 'paint' are the same colors used in cake making.

"I wouldn't eat it!" he exclaims, though he doesn't rule it out. "I'm weird about the mediums I use for art. I think about it more like, 'How can I make this art?'"

A Visceral Connection To Art, Work, And Life

The idea of eating one's artistic materials isn't all that crazy to Anna Witte, another contributor to the Art of Chocolate. "When I go and select paint, I feel this visceral connection to it-I almost want to eat it! To me, paint is like candy or like food."

Witte is an artist as well as a children's book illustrator and author. She also teaches in the Spanish Department at Indiana University. "What I do really with my life is I teach and I paint," she explains. "Teaching literature feeds into my painting. It's a wonderful combination of professions."

The work she submitted to the Art of Chocolate, called Evolution, shows an amphibian creature evolving into a mechanical toy horse. Like much of her work, it's full of vibrant colors and textures and has an element of whimsy. "I almost want people to be able to touch the painting," she says, "because it's a very tactile experience to look at art."

Town And Gown

Along with the contributions of local artists in the community, IU Art Museum will display its own extensive collections.

But Witte makes the point that this event means much more than just seeing art and eating chocolate. In addition to supporting Options, "it's a place to connect between the community and the university. Events that bring the two together should be supported."

Alexander's and Witte's works can be viewed through the online auction. Bids for the artwork will be taken through Monday, February 7. Certain items from the online auction will be displayed at the Art of Chocolate event as part of the Juried Show, enticing viewers to bid on them before the auction closes.

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