What do the art of Henri Matisse, executive chef Chad Minton and Loyola Marymount University (LMU) sororities and fraternities have in common? The Ritz- Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey.

Since September 10th, the Ritz-Carlton’s Lobby Lounge, The Salon d’art, has had on display selected works, the late lithographs and pochoirs (hand-cut stencils) of Henri Matisse’s Shapes in Nature — categorized into the Jazz, Chapelle de Vence and Cutouts Series — portraying the abstract form of the natural world through signs, symbols, arabesques and pure colors.

The Matisse art display and silent auction for the works of art continue until Monday, December 29th.

“Towards the end of his life, illness and an operation left Matisse increasingly frail and weakened,” states the Linearis Institute in San Francisco. “No longer able to work at an easel, he was forced to invent a new method of ‘painting’. He began making cutouts of colored paper, using scissors as a combination of a brush and sculpting tool.

“He also further simplified line by drawing from a distance using charcoal attached to a long bamboo pole. After having freed himself from the mechanics of painting, Matisse transcended beyond the object and into a new realm of expression, which reduced the natural world to a universal language of signs, symbols, arabesques and pure colors.”

Emmie Lancaster-Wingler, a spokeswoman for the hotel, adds, “The rotating art display is unique to this hotel, coordinated with the Linearis Institute and we are working with them to bring the artwork of the next artist to the hotel.”

In the spirit of collegiate rivalry and a festive holiday atmosphere, Robert Thomas, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, invited creative LMU sorority andfraternity members to compete against one another in designing works of art fashioned after Matisse’s great masterpieces, under the expert eye of Minton and his pastry team Tuesday, November 11th.

Minton spends his spare time skateboarding, and was formerly a sponsored amateur skateboarder. As executive chef, he purchases local, natural and sustainable products to reduce the carbon footprint, said Lancaster-Wingler.

“In Iron Chef [a television program] style, each team collected their material and had one hour to produce their own gingerbread masterpiece for the grand prize — complimentary meeting space for an event at the hotel,” said Thomas.

The hotel provided all materials and tools for the contest, which included, among other items, bags of candies, chocolates and pastry creams of various shades — “enough to cause a massive sugar overload if consumed rather than used to create a work of art,” said a hotel spokesman.

The students’ gingerbread creations will be displayed in the Lobby Lounge alongside Matisse originals until Sunday, December 21st, and guests of the hotel, the Jer-ne Restaurant + Bar, Lobby Lounge and The Spa will have the opportunity to participate in the rivalry by voting for their favorite gingerbread artwork.

Of course, what would a “Gingerbread Joust” be without the Gingerbread Man? In keeping with the spirit of the competition, the Gingerbread Man (director of sales and marketing Tim Rutland) bravely ran around the competition area in his costume, cheering on the participants, first expressing bewilderment and then indignation when he found out that the “canvas” for the artwork was gingerbread.

Thomas also performed double duty as the DJ, keeping a vibrating beat going as the contestants were shown on several big screens around the newly renovated ballroom.

A large number of LMU students were there to watch and lend support to fellow students and joust participants.

LMU sororities and fraternities participating included Delta Delta Delta, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Beta Theta Pi, Sigma Chi, Alpha Phi, Pi Beta Phi, Delta Zeta, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta and Sigma Rho Chi.

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