Alexander Calder & Tricia Martin


Let me begin by saying I would cringe every year in grade school when we would embark on the dreaded gymnastics unit in P.E. class. Besides the fact that I couldn't do a cartwheel (I still can't do one to this day), it seemed like every task in the unit required a talent I struggled with: balance. Over the years, I've come realize what a pivotal role balance plays in our lives. Besides the need for balance when performing physical activities (i.e. riding a bike, walking in heels), we are told as a society to "eat a balanced diet" or to "find a balance between work and play." It is the common theme of balance that brings these two artists together in Mashup #5.

Alexander Calder's most famous contribution to the world of art was his invention of the mobile. A mobile is a kinetic sculpture, where particular parts may be moved by wind or other forces, sometimes with the help of cranks and pulleys. Most often, a mobile is hung from above (think the devices one hangs over a crib to entertain a baby) and depends greatly on equilibrium. Calder also created the stabile sculpture, which is defined as a self-supporting, static abstract sculpture. Some of his stabiles were inspired by animals, like The Crab. One of Calder's stabiles, Bent Propeller, was built for the World Trade Center and was stationed there for 30 years until September 11th.

Find balance was pivotal in Calder's art and is also the focus of Tricia Martin's creations in her blog Eating is Art. I discovered this site through my friend Sophie and have loved reading it since that day. Martin, who holds a Master's in Fine Arts and Design, transforms the process of cooking and baking into beautiful, interactive forms of art. I love how she tries to stay true to the ingredients she uses (most often natural, whole foods) and employs them in a creative way. She is also the creator of Pietopia, a yearly writing/baking competition in Portland, Oregon (a city I have LOVED for many years). The premise: What would your life taste like it if were a pie? Entrants are encouraged to answer the question in a short essay and supply the recipe for their pie. I love this challenge of stretching your imagination. [On a side note: Another one of Tricia's projects that I adore is The Favorite Series, where she creates a full sensory experience for an individual and a person of his/her choice. It's amazing.]

For this Mashup I decided to answer the Pietopia question for Alexander Calder, playing on his need for balance. I knew the recipe would have to incorporate the equilibrium of sweet and savory, smooth and crunchy. The recipe: Peaches and Almond Cream Pie. The challenge: Creating a stabile to go on top. I don't make pies often, usually because after making them there's that problem of actually eating them. Now, Pat and I could probably devour a whole pie, but neither of us, nor our waistlines, are up to that proposition. I also loathe having to throw out food. So I decided I would make this pie for my parents' annual Fourth of July cookout.

I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light's Apple and Walnut Cream Tart. I love peaches and since they are in season, I figured it was an appropriate substitute. The pie came out pretty good, although in the future, I think I would substitute a more substantial crust (possibly cinnamon graham cracker) in place of the phyllo dough. This stabile, an American Bald Eagle, was created from a pineapple, toothpicks, and blueberries (for the eyes). Trying to sculpt this creation was tough and made me appreciate food artists even more than I already do. Food is such a hard medium to work with! Depending on how ripe a food item is can greatly affect its structural capabilities (in other words, this pineapple was damn juicy!). In the end, I think my family appreciated their artsy dessert, or at least, fed my face with false compliments. :)

Happy Fourth of July!

Peaches and Almond Cream Pie
(adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 2/3 cup chopped almond

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup whole milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Cooking spray

  • 6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

  • 5 cups sliced peaches (about 2 pounds)

  • 1 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place almonds in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until toasted; cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Place almonds in a food processor; process until smooth (about 1 minute), scraping sides of bowl once.

Combine almond butter, 1/2 cup sugar, milk, salt, and egg; stir well with a whisk.

Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time, coat sheet with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon cinnamon mixture.

Fold phyllo sheet in half lengthwise to form a 13 x 8 1/2-inch rectangle. Gently press folded phyllo sheet into prepared pan, allowing ends to extend over edges; coat phyllo with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining phyllo sheets and cinnamon mixture, arranging folded phyllo sheets in a crisscross pattern. Fold edges of phyllo under.

Combine sliced peaches and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a bowl. Arrange on top of phyllo crust.

Pour egg mixture over peaches. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until center is set. Cool 15 minutes before serving.


  1. Beth, just wanted to let you know that I'm enjoying these mashups very much. Keep them coming!
    Donna Lavoie

  2. Bethany, love your mashups and sorry I wasn't there on your 4th of July picnic to see your creation in person. Just read your mashup and I have to say, what a beautiful job you did on your pie. I bet it was so delicious..............Love, Nanny