Cheesy artist installs bed of ham

Freakish things and people are plentiful--all over the world.

Cosimo Cavallaro regards his finished work of art, a bed with more than 300 pounds of sliced ham, at a gallery in New York. (AP /Tina Fineberg)
NEW YORK (AP) - An artist best known for decorative cheese has broadened his palette - or palate - to ham.

Cosimo Cavallaro, who once repainted a New York hotel room in melted mozzarella, has covered a bed in processed ham. "I feel like I am back in my mother's deli," the Montreal-raised artist said Thursday.

His installation in a street-level gallery space of the Roger Smith Hotel in midtown Manhattan involved slicing 140 kilograms of ham and tossing the meat atop a four-poster bed. The installation, which took 3 1/2 hours, will be kept in the air-conditioned room for two days.

At noon, Cavallaro, a burly man with long unkempt hair and a beard, was busy working a chrome meat slicer, similar to one he had used as a youth working summers in his mother's delicatessen.

Outside, pedestrians stopped to peer in through the glass. Some called the project a waste of food, but nearby delis were said to be picking up business because the mounds of meat seemed to trigger appetites.

Cavallaro, 41, the son of immigrants from southern Italy, grew up in Montreal and now lives in Brooklyn.

He asked his mother, who still lives in Montreal, not to attend the installation. "She would want to get in on the act," he said.

Gallery director Matthew Semler said he booked the exhibit for the fun of it. "This isn't work, it's play. That's what Cos does," he said, referring to the artist.

Cavallaro says his cheese period ended two years ago.


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