Speakers for Mixed Taste Lecture Series

What you missed in Mixed Taste: Keith Haring & Smog Meringues

Speakers for Mixed Taste Lecture Series

The second live stream of the Mixed Taste: At Home lecture series.

Our summer lecture series got artsy and a little smelly with night two. Mixed Taste, co-presented with MCA Denver, combines two totally different topics for one evening of fun and weirdness and last night was no different.

In case you missed out, you can still watch the whole thing on our YouTube channel, where it will live until the end of time or the end of the Internet (whichever comes first).

Watch Mixed Taste: Keith Haring & Smog Meringues >

If you don’t have an hour to watch it (though really, you deserve some “me time”), here’s a quick round-up of the highlights and fun facts you can throw out the next time you have that awkward pre-Zoom meeting time with the one other person who showed up early.

Nora Burnett Abrams speaking on Keith Haring.

Mark G. Falcone Director at MCA Denver Nora Burnett Abrams speaking on Keith Haring.

3 things Nora Burnett Abrams (Mark G. Falcone Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver) taught us about Keith Haring:

  1. Haring’s trademark mix of cartoon and abstract were influenced by his upbringing. His father was an amateur cartoonist, and his experimentation with psychedelic drugs starting in high school made way for abstract drawing. Both styles can be seen simultaneously in his work later in life.
  2. Haring believed in “taking [art] off the pedestal and giving it back to the people.” He would frequently draw with chalk on blank advertising spaces in the NYC subway so it could reach the masses. In response to the wealthy wanting to buy his art, he created a Pop Shop where anyone could buy buttons, skateboards, t-shirts, hats, children’s books and more adorned with his art.
  3. Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988 and used the last years of his life to start the Keith Haring Foundation to stimulate activism and awareness about AIDS. (Psst…this is a prime example of artivism, a topic in our last Mixed Taste this season on August 19!)
Nicola Twilley speaking about Smog Meringues.

Nicola Twilley speaking about Smog Meringues.

3 things Nicola Twilley (co-host of the award-winning Gastropod podcast and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker) taught us about smog meringues:

  1. Smog meringues are exactly what they sound like: meringue cookies made with smog air whipped into them. Or as audience member Mark Dunn so aptly put it in the YouTube chat: “when pollution comes along… you must whip it.” Smog meringues are used to educate politicians, corporations, and the public about the dangers of air pollution, which is often an invisible problem.
  2. Each city’s smog meringue has a unique flavor profile based on the contributors to air pollution. Twilley and her colleagues refer to this as “airoir” — a riff on “merroir” which refers to an oyster’s specific flavor based on the conditions in which it was raised.
  3. A few more air pollution facts for you:
    • Burger smog is a real problem. An 18-wheeler with a diesel engine would have to drive 143 miles to emit the same level of particulate air pollution as a single charbroiled beef patty.
    • Air pollution inside your home is an issue, too. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner produces worse air quality in your home than that of New Delhi. The EPA would consider it dangerous to even healthy individuals. Almost makes you want to eat a smog meringue instead!

A Poetic Ending with Mahogany

At the end of the night, we wrap up with a poem from a local poet inspired by both topics and written during the course of the evening.

Taste the Rainbow

Written By: Kenya Mahogany Fashaw

When I was just 6 years old

I noticed my first rainbow

I looked up

At all the different colors

Curved over my head

Making a beautifully, deliciously sweet arch.

I wondered

what does that illumination taste like

Then boom


Taste The Rainbow


The rainbow

Harvesting sugary crystals

Tucked between the buds of my tounge

The seed of the egg foam

Sends Vibrations of vibranium

Magic to my lungs

Keith Haring,

I can’t help but to taste your graffiti

The joy it pours into my eyes

Taste the semiotic messages you create

In your cortex

Hulucinacting chalked symbols

Inhaled in your high end

Pop art

Mix the abstract of smog to form

A dish I hope I can handle

You know what

I know I can handle

Shots of pollution

Dripping from my lips

Wreeking passion

Art, and flavor

In the New york subway walls

Images that function like words

Screaming for political change

With every stroke

People Dancing in formation

Mosiac Humans

No faces





And oh so delicious

People Moving Atlanta meringue magnetically

Leaving a taste so sweet

That It impacts the climate of the community

So Don’t believe the hype

Images can speak all 5 love languages

No doubt

The taste of the air around you

If you’re in Greely.

may make you throw up

Or even pass out

How fortunate for us humans

To be Artist

In every single way naturally

To be free

With all the colors we create

That we can also taste and see.

Watch Mahogany read her poem here >

As fun as a round-up is, it can’t compare to the real thing. Sign-up for reminders about future Mixed Taste: At Home events happening every Wednesday at 7pm MT through August 19.

Upcoming Topics:

Wed, July 29 at 7pm MT
Napping & Slovenian Zombies
Featuring Maya Kroth & Nancy Wadsworth

Wed, Aug 5 at 7pm MT
Augmented Reality & The Cult of the Dead
Featuring Till Nowak & Elizabeth Harper

Wed, Aug 12 at 7pm MT
Church Signs & Icelandic Hip Hop
Featuring Joe York & Nathan Hall

Wed, Aug 19 at 7pm MT
Zeno’s Paradox & Artivism
Featuring Elisabeth Stade & Suzi Q. Smith

Mixed Taste was originated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Sponsored by:
Blue Room Logo

With additional support by:
Peggy Finley