Artist Katherine McMahon Opens “The Roast Beef is the Story” Show at Silver Lining Diner


“The Roast Beef is the Story” by Katherine McMahon explores the trajectory of the inherently American archetypal diner as place for casual congregation and pays homage to its many representations in cinema. “With this painting show I aim to explore precisely where the diner–both as a concept and an archetypal form–exists now in modern American culture,” says Katherine.  The show will be mounted at the currently closed Silver Lining Diner in Southampton, and the work will be viewable through the windows, with respect to social distancing guidelines.

The artist shares, “Given the devastating state of the restaurant industry, my hope is to set forth a solution for activating restaurant spaces in a hopeful and optimistic way. Half of the profits will go to the diner. The diner will likely open for takeout in the coming weeks..stay tuned!”

The title, inspired by a conversation the film director Barry Levinson had with Vanity Fair about his 1982 film Diner, on which Levinson elaborated “between the lines about roast beef lies all you need to know about [the characters] fear, their competitiveness, their friendship. The roast beef is the story.” In essence, the sandwich provides the framework for the formative, seemingly mundane interactions that prove to be the much more profound as the years progress.

When approached aesthetically as a beloved institution of a bygone era, the diner can seem nostalgic and sentimental. From American Graffiti to Grease to Pulp Fiction and Coffee & Cigarettes, what is it about the portrayal of diners that have provided such an ideal backdrop in American cinema and in real life? What does the changing landscape of modern American dining trends, before and after the Coronavirus pandemic, say about our changing values and attitudes today, if anything.

“Perhaps the diner as a state of mind is a place where seemingly insignificant interactions and reflections occur. It’s a place to wait and be waited on. It’s a place where you’re not doing anything, where time stands still. The good stuff lies in this void. There’s no story, and that’s the point–it’s about what we do when there isn’t one. Diners are a place where this truth can unfold,” says Katherine. Visit here for more details.