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‘Playing with food.’ Lexington artist creates paintings with ketchup.

·2 min read

Cynthia Kostylo’s art looks good enough to eat — or dip a French fry in.

On Saturday, the Lexington artist set up shop outside the Summit at Fritz Farm’s Shake Shack, pulling out canvases and a palette knife, but no paint was to be seen. Instead, Kostylo’s workstation had several condiment bottles filled with Heinz Ketchup.

Kostylo specializes in “temporary art,” working with mediums like chalk and ketchup to create unique pieces.

“It’s just a fun little process,” she said. “Temporary art is more of a performance, like a concert or a play.”

Caroline Haye, a regional marketing manager for the company’s Southeast region, said Shake Shack hosted the Ketchup Art on the Green event as part of a campaign to promote its partnership with Heinz.

Simply Heinz ketchup, made without artificial sweeteners, can be found in every Shake Shack nationwide, Haye said.

“As part of the campaign, we wanted to really highlight the partnership with some fun content,” she said. “So, in researching ways that we could gather that content, we found Cynthia, the artist, who happens to be from Lexington.”

Cynthia Kostylo, of Lexington, Ky., paints with Heinz ketchup during Ketchup Art on the Green at The Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Kostylo says that ketchup is a similar medium to standard paint but the final product is temporary, “So it’s just playing with food,” She said.
Cynthia Kostylo, of Lexington, Ky., paints with Heinz ketchup during Ketchup Art on the Green at The Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Kostylo says that ketchup is a similar medium to standard paint but the final product is temporary, “So it’s just playing with food,” She said.

Although she also works on a horse farm, Kostylo said she has done ketchup art events for other restaurants. When Shake Shack reached out and asked if she would be interested in painting for them, she agreed.

“I had someone ask if I would add relish and mustard in a piece once,” Kostylo said. “So it’s just playing with food.”

She said that painting with ketchup is similar to using regular paint, but there are some differences between the two mediums. Kostylo uses canvases that have not been primed, or covered in a layer of white paint, as most artists’ canvases are.

“We can’t do it on primed canvases because it’ll drip right off, so it doesn’t adhere,” she said. “[The ketchup] soaks into the unprimed canvas, and eventually it starts to bleed, and you can’t save it. It’s nothing that you can keep.”

Kostylo also said she uses a palette knife or a squirt bottle instead of brushes when working with ketchup.

Asher Lawson, 3, of Owensboro, Ky., reacts while finger painting with ketchup during Ketchup Art on the Green at The Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, Saturday, July 31, 2021.
Asher Lawson, 3, of Owensboro, Ky., reacts while finger painting with ketchup during Ketchup Art on the Green at The Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, Saturday, July 31, 2021.

In the span of three hours, she painted three original pieces: some tomatoes with the words “Seed to Shack,” a thoroughbred horse and a Shake Shack burger and fries. In addition to Kostylo’s paintings, Saturday’s Ketchup Art on the Green event featured live music, kids’ ketchup painting and food.

Haye said the campaign will continue through August via Shake Shack’s social media, including promotional giveaways and a “special promotion with fries.”

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