Arrow-right Camera


Doug Clark: Canned-food replicas defy hunger, gravity

Tue., March 29, 2011

As a sign of my revered and sophisticated stature, I was asked to judge a major downtown art exhibit.

OK. That’s stretching things a bit.

I was downtown, though.

The art I critiqued in the River Park Square foyer, however, was more about Pringles than Picasso.

The exhibit is called “Canstruction.” That’s an apt name since it involves recognizable objects that have been cleverly created almost exclusively out of stacked food cans.

Take the towering Eiffel Tower. It is made out of canned olives, black beans and potatoes and topped with a spire of prune cans.

The tower is red, white and blue. That struck me as odd until I realized that it might artistically represent French and American unity over bombing the crap out of Libya.

There’s also a recreation of our Clocktower from pillars of Hunt’s spaghetti sauce.

It doesn’t keep time so well, either.

All right. Before any of you starts scoffing, please note that “Canstruction” benefits my favorite charity: Second Harvest Inland Northwest food bank.

This is a good-natured and visual way to bring attention and donations to a worthy organization that helps feed the hungry.

The so-called “art” here is created by members of local architectural, construction and engineering firms. All the food has been donated and will eventually find its way to Second Harvest for weighing and distribution.

Some of the can art is pretty clever, too.

I was a little bummed to learn that the firm responsible for a Hoover Dam tribute had originally intended to make a mockup of the proposed north-south freeway.

Too bad. That would have represented the most progress anyone’s seen lately on that freeway scam.

The “Canstruction” adjudication took place Monday afternoon. It was conducted by a panel of five very responsible community members – and me.

I don’t know why, but I seem to cause problems wherever I go.

But I have to ask: What does the term “structural ingenuity” mean?

I thought this competition was to demonstrate how amazing objects could be built from ordinary objects by using ingenious, self-supporting engineering tricks.

So I was about to award my vote to an exhibit that had this huge ball made from a gravity-defying assemblage of mandarin-orange cans.

I looked closer. A good bit of the ball was stuck together by clear sticky tape.


Another exhibit relied heavily on cardboard platforms and large rubber bands.

For a moment I thought about running up and down the mall hallways hollering “SCANDAL!!!”

Then Rod Wieber of Second Harvest assured me that no “Canstruction” rules had been broken.

No wonder America’s infrastructure is falling apart.

We judges were also supposed to pick the exhibit whose ingredients combined to make the “Best Meal.”

That was a no-brainer. That faux Hoover Dam featured a combination of Hershey chocolate bars, marshmallows and licorice ropes.

Mmm. The three food groups.

I promised Wieber I wouldn’t name the winners since the awards won’t be handed out until Wednesday afternoon.

I’m always glad to help the food bank. But I’ll tell you one thing, though.

Staring at art has never made me so hungry.

Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clarkcan be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

There are two comments on this story »