With the holidays fast approaching, it may seem like a cheese plate, markers, or set of knives would be the obvious choice for the turophile on your gift list. While these tokens are nice and can be thoughtful, they tend to get a bit overdone and can be a bit obvious. Let’s face it – while these cheesy gifts are appreciated, more often than not, they end up being shoved into a drawer only to be brought out on special occasions… like next Christmas. How about giving a fromage find that will be front and center all year long… something like cheese art? Where does one find such a thing? Artist Mike Geno can help.
I first met Mike Geno in 2012 at the American Cheese Society Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was blown away by his incredible renderings of some of my favorite fromages. I had difficulty deciding which prints to purchase, but finally decided on Barely Buzzed, Montenebro, Harbison, and Valdeon (see above) with the intention of getting more in the future. Geno’s work is so incredibly realistic and detailed, it’s hard to believe he’s only been painting cheese since 2011. Prior to taking on fromage, Geno did paint other food items like steak and sushi.
Geno’s appetizing paintings have gotten him noticed, even earning him an article in The New York Times. While notoriety could have gone to his head, Geno has been busy giving back to his Philadelphia community.
Geno tells The House Mouse, “Earlier in the summer I was inspired to paint some donut paintings as a short break from a long list of lined-up cheese painting commissions. A very successful pair Philadelphia restaurateurs decided to campaign on Kickstarter so they could open a small soup restaurant that would donate 100% of their profits to feed the hungry in Philadelphia. I’d already painted a chef plate by Michael Solomonov, from Zahav Restaurant and he and his partner Steven Cook own a hugely popular local donut and chicken restaurant called Federal Donuts. They gave me some donuts, I painted them and donated one of the paintings. It ended up selling as soon as it went up online. Then, they sold 50 posters for $50 each. My day of painting that donut ended up contributing $3,500.00 towards feeding the hungry! I can’t explain how great that feels.”
“Currently I am supporting a friend and local cheesemaker from the Philadelphia area, Sue Miller from Birchrun Hills Farm. I donated a portrait of her Birchrun Blue, and it, too, sold on her Kickstarter campaign to help her raise a cheese cave and equip it.”
According to Madame Fromage’s website, the afterparty has come and gone and the campaign was a huge success, surpassing their goal, with pledges still rolling in. Prints of Birchrun Blue are still available at MikeGeno.com, so be sure to grab one and keep the support for Sue Miller and her cave dreams going!
Geno’s paintings and prints are a great holiday gift for any cheese lover and are available on his website, or even his page where I found this adorable mouse print as well. Prices start at $50.00 for standard-sized matted prints and newly available extra-large 36″ prints run $400.00. Original paintings start at around $550. The Beekman Blaak original painting above, which I just love, is rather expensive at $1000.00, but it’s a beautifully rendered work. I’d settle for a print and this adorable mouse.
Up next on the Holiday Cheesy Gift Giving Guide… gift baskets!