Photography by Julia Lynn

Mike Lata & Emilee Cleary

Mike: Chef-Owner FIG the The Ordinary / Emilee: Mother, Treasure Hunter
Why is art important in your life?

Mike: Art provides respite from the business of life. It engages the senses, intrigues the psyche, connects us, and reminds us that we are human.

Emilee: In this ever-changing, fast paced information age where everyone is logged on and connected, I feel there is more disconnect than ever. Art gives me a moment to muse, reflect, and reconnect with myself.

What is your first memory of art?

Mike: Record albums! When I was younger, record album art was a big deal. I think is was early Peter Gabriel (Melting Face) that made me feel like there were lots of ways to express yourself artistically.

Emilee: As a child, I was always found in a quiet corner sketching. My parents took notice and expanded my horizons by giving me free reign of my bedroom walls with any medium I could possible dream up. I still relish in that freedom to cover every corner of my space with whatever I needed to express.

What is your most memorable art experience?

Mike: A number of years ago I spent the day by myself in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. While observing different works from a particular artist, Wayne Thiebaud, and his use of shadowing, something about the creative process clicked with me as it related to my cooking. The idea of vision, perseverance, and skill materializing in one work still resonates with me.

Emilee: I had a major lightbulb moment when I brought my 8-month-old son Henry to a Museum for the first time. The Gibbes’ Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock and Roll Photography exhibit. I watched as he absorbed it all; its grandeur, space, silence and music. We were both seeing these stunning candid images for the first time together. It got me excited thinking about sharing new and old traditions together and dusting off the [Bob] Dylan albums for him.

Who is your favorite artist?

Mike: I am not a “favorite” kind of guy, but I’m a big fan of John Duckworth, Ben Long, Tim Hussey, Jill Hooper, and Robert Lange. I know those people and they are all very talented, so I feel connected to their work.

Emilee: I get completely lost in Audrey Kawasaki‘s ethereal oil-on-wood portrayals of young women. Words that wash over me are haunting, graceful, melancholy, seductive, delicate, languid and vulnerable.

Why are museums important to you?

Emilee: Museums are a place of respite. A home we are graciously invited into, to relax and enjoy the many stories being told. They preserve and share tradition and beliefs, let us explore fact and fiction, the present, past, and future. They give us a chance to listen and ask questions; most go unanswered but its the pondering and pause that make it a sanctuary for me.


Favorite Artwork: