What year is it again? 

Kia Liszak time-travels with rice, beans and LPs

Simpler times. We all crave them. Or say we do. Nostalgia was thrust upon Gen-Xers by their Boomer parents, who began to relive the '60s as soon as it was the '70s. George Lucas' 1973 paean to simpler times, American Graffiti, comes to mind. Why must we constantly look forward? Why is a youthful appearance okay but not youthful pursuits? We can't we keep collecting Star Wars action figures? Why can't a mother of a five-year-old glue beans and rice to the cover of Madonna's True Blue?

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She can. Kia Liszak celebrates the heroes of her youth with a collection of iconic images covered in what some might call food. It all started back when albums were important cultural commodities, Liszak says. They "were what I asked for, for my birthday or Christmas. It's what I always wanted."

She doesn't own an iPod. She has a smart phone, but it's still not the same, she says. "Albums are a thing that you have. Now there's nothing to hold onto. My generation is: you get the album, you put it on, you sit and stare at the cover while you listen to it."

Liszak was inspired by the projects she does at home with her son. She wanted to take that to the next level. An exhibition deadline from Aimee McQuilkin of Betty's Divine helped, too. So began a hectic few weeks of tweezer play. Each piece—there'll be at least eight in the show—takes around 40 hours to complete. "I almost feel like a teenager working on it at two in the morning and listening to music," she says. The teenager in her asks, "What's more epic than album covers?" The adult says, "If it wasn't album covers I wouldn't have the patience for it."

The process comes down to "figuring out what details need to be there and what details can go," she says. "Eventually, the album itself gets lost." This is where beans and insanity meet. She'll search for a single bean for fifteen minutes. The perfect bean. "It's like solving a puzzle," she says. And the rice? It opens up worlds of shading, she says.

She's the crazy bean lady in the bulk section of the Good Food Store whose art has "changed the way I look at pictures and people," she says. "The whole world is transformed into beans and rice."

Kia Liszak's exhibition Rock, Yarn, and Beans opens at Betty's Divine Friday, March 2, at 5 PM, with music by punker children 64 Tuna. 521 S. Higgins Ave. Free.

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