In the center of Trifecta Gallery, an enormous belled chandelier is festooned with sugar-glass flowers, each blossom drizzled and layered in pinks, reds, yellows, blues and greens.
“These ones are not flavored, so I don’t want to catch any of you licking,” chides Chef Robert Teddy.
The sugar blossoms of his Redefined Sugar exhibit resemble the floral glass arrangement of Dale Chihuly ensconced in the front-desk ceiling of Bellagio. Teddy readily admits Chihuly was an inspiration and that blown glass and sugar glass share visual similarities. However, Teddy’s work utilizes the organic qualities of sugar glass, embracing the irregular textures and colors, rumpled folds and bubbles — characteristics frowned upon in the professional pastry community, and a departure from the smooth, controlled color of Chihuly.
The aesthetic affect of bubbles and textures gives the sugar sculptures lush, painterly qualities that fit with Teddy’s ambition to elevate sugar into the category of fine art.
“I started as a pastry chef, but I got bored,” he says. “Like any profession it has rules … I look at sugar and butter as a medium. I really love how I can take it further. I hope more artists start to take sugar more seriously.”
Elsewhere, jeweled ovoids and rings, suspended from mobiles, dangle temptingly within tasting range. Glistening blue and gold Buddha hands cup lotus flowers. More lotus blossoms occupy lily pads on an adjacent shelf. Teddy’s sugar-glass creations transform Trifecta Gallery into Candy Land.
It doesn’t stop with the exhibiting works, either. During a Preview Thursday reception, statuesque female models wrapped in elegant sheaves of turquoise and gold strut and pose for pictures, showing off glitzy candy necklaces and earrings created for the evening. Objects with the option to be worn for an evening and then consumed make sugar accessories an ultimate in haute couture and disposable luxury.
There is something inherently youthful, fun and fanciful about art made from candy, which lends itself to the charitable focus of Redefined Sugar. Donations and a portion of proceeds from the sugar sculptures go to support the nonprofit program Communities in Schools, which helps at-risk students stay in school.
“Sixty perfect of students in Clark County live at poverty level,” explains Communities in School President Susie Lee in a talk at the opening reception. “Many of these kids start the day with many needs unmet, from school supplies to hygiene. Our goal is to take care of these needs so the students can focus on learning.” Sweet.
REDEFINED SUGAR through Nov. 30, Trifecta Gallery, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., www.trifectagallery.com