Theresa Bembnister leads a tour of the Snack exhibition. (PHOTO: Bronlynn Thurman/The Devil Strip)

Local Tastes: A preview of Akron Art Museum’s Art & Ale event

words and photos by Bronlynn Thurman

Art & Ale at the Akron Art Museum March 11th, 6pm-9pm. Snack exhibition up through September 3, 2016. Visit for more information.

As the Akron Art Museum’s 9th Annual Arts & Ale event approaches, the museum did something a little different. This was the first year that they prefaced the event with a preview that involved a curator-led tour of a complementary exhibit and a beer and food tasting.

Associate Curator Theresa Bembnister led an informative tour of her exhibition Snack. She stated that, although beer is never featured in the exhibit, “It’s food, and everybody loves food.”

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The Dirty Dozen. Artist: Kristen Cliffel (PHOTO: Bronlynn Thurman/The Devil Strip)

Throughout the tour, she discussed with the steadily growing audience why she picked certain pieces and her connection to them. In a larger museum, people tend to forget that there is a human element beyond the artist. This particular exhibit took about 6 months to put together.

After the tour, I asked Bembnister about her favorite piece. She said that would be like a person picking their favorite child. After some thought, she shared that the Pepperoni and Sausage by Mike Sobeck was commissioned by Luigi’s, but made specifically for the show, so it has some very special meaning.

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Pepperoni and Sausage. Artist: Mike Sobeck. (PHOTO: Bronlynn Thurman/The Devil Strip)

“It’s important for Akron audiences to see an Akron piece in this exhibition.”

Downstairs in the Beatrice Knapp McDowell Grand Lobby, the participants began the food and beer tasting portion of the event.

They began light with Thirsty Dog Labrador Lager paired with a Chicken Chili and Corn Muffin, and ended with the Rise of the Mayan Dog Honey Stout with a Mocha Cinnamon Espresso Brownie from ACME Fresh Market Catering. Throughout the tasting a Thirsty Dog representative discussed the notes of each beer and an ACME representative discussed why and how the food complements it.

I spoke with Development Officer, Michael Derr about the future of these events and a bit about Art & Ale. He said that the museum wishes to expand Art & Ale beyond the annual event and do more of these smaller events because they provide a more intimate setting and allow for more interaction.


Food and beer tasting. (PHOTO: Bronlynn Thurman/The Devil Strip)
Food and beer tasting. (PHOTO: Bronlynn Thurman/The Devil Strip)

This year at Art & Ale, the museum will be bringing in local companies, such as Sweet Mary’s Bakery, Norka soda and Nuevo. One-third of the tickets have already sold, and they are expected to sell out, so those wishing to go should get theirs quick.

As Bembnister reminds us, “Both beer and food have this ability to bring people together.”


Featured image: Theresa Bembnister leads a tour of the Snack exhibition. (PHOTO: Bronlynn Thurman/The Devil Strip)


Bronlynn, the wandering elf, loves art and ale.