San Francisco

The Story Behind 'Meat,' Madrone's Latest Window Installation

In recent years, the front window of Divisadero's popular Madrone Art Bar has doubled as a bar for chickens, a paper airplane emporium, an antique store, and a deli selling hugs and kissesNow, the window has become a butcher shop. 

Evocative of a grocery display from a simpler time, artist Matthew Usinowicz's "Meat" challenges the viewer to dig deep and ask themselves the age-old question: "Am I hungry?"

Usinowicz grew up working in a deli and butcher shop in his native Salt Lake City, and has continued to moonlight in the industry since moving to San Francisco to attend art school in 1999. In fact, he came up with the idea for "Meat" after working a short gig at Bi-Rite's butcher shop. 

Photo: Stephen Jackson/Hoodline

"I've seen how the trade has changed, especially in the production aspect," said Usinowicz. "The artistry of being a butcher has been lost. Now that I'm an artist, I see the similar production level with the creation of objects. I wanted to show a bridge between art-making and a trade, such as being a butcher."

Usinowicz wants his sculptures (made from silicone, rubber, and alginate) to highlight the art of display and merchandizing, along with the work that goes into making the products themselves. "Everything I do has something to do with production or labor. I grew up in a working-class family and a working-class area. A lot of the stuff I do has to do with that, philosophically."

Photo: Stephen Jackson/Hoodline

Madrone owner Spike Krouse also referenced philosophy, telling us he liked the existential overtones to the piece. "I think Friedrich Nietzsche sums it up: 'A strong and well-constituted man digests his experiences, deeds and misdeeds just as he digests his meats, even when he has some tough morsels to swallow.' However, as with any art piece, it's open to the viewer to form their own interpretation," said Krouse.

To interpret Usinowicz's tasty sculptures for yourself, wing by Madrone anytime before December 31st. You can also see more of his work on his website, or follow him on Instagram.


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