oh dear

i realize it's been some time since my last post. sigh. i seem to be all over the place these days -- traveling and visiting friends and generally being everywhere but at home. and actually... that has been great! sometimes, you need a scattered couple of weeks full of trains and dancing and late nights, and then at the end you settle and cool down a bit. this weekend i get to hang around outside, weather permitting, and go to a street fair and make sushi and have a picnic.

how about a little update? usually i don't do things like that, but since i've been remiss with my posting i don't mind doing it this once. teehee. so let's see: i am starting to plan some summery outings. it's been cool and rainy all week here, and not in a springy way. so planning for summertime is necessary. first of all, i am going to a music festival in may. i'm super jazzed about that, because i've never been to one before! outdoor music + dancing + camping... it sounds glorious. and it's about time i got myself to a music festival.

also i will go to the lake for a week. my grandparents went to this lake for their honeymoon about 60 years ago and the family's been going ever since. needless to say, i know the place as well as i know my own home. i love being able to go -- my trips there have been intermittent since graduating college, predictably, but this year i put my foot down with a firm hand. and so i am going.

in book news, i am really liking the james schuyler novel i'm reading. schuyler was a chicago poet, and alfred and guinevere is one of three novels he wrote. it's about a brother, alfred, and his older sister, guinevere. i haven't finished it yet, but i love the way they talk to each other. their interactions are always full of imagination and wit. they remind me of my sister and i, playing our silly games, speaking a language only we knew. my parents say we used to sit in the back of the car and laugh idiotically at seemingly nothing, which of course peeved mum + dad no end. anyway, it's a lovely book. i recommend it for a quietly funny read.

well, that does it. next week i will have some major posts. i  p r o m i s e !
 i hope you all have a beautiful weekend!



top = maira; bottom = materialistics' "girl with a pearl earring"
hello, hello! it is another chilled + rainy day here in illinois, as it's been all week, so i don't have much in the way of creativity happening in my brain at the moment. however, i ran across some excellent things on the web the past few days... so today will be a show-and-tell day.

first of all, i found this wonderful piece on the millions about emotion + intimacy in food writing. it was particularly interesting to me, having just opined on cleaving and all week kind of worrying that i am running out of food books to read (horrors!). read it here.

next, an article from the nyt about how we still aren't learning from the past, despite lessons carved in stone... literally.

here is a slideshow of maira kalman hanging her show, "various illuminations (of a crazy world)" at the jewish museum in new york city.

an incredible show in london, put on by a group called the materialistics. they recreate masterpieces with needle and thread... or yarn.

poetry critic david orr just published a book called beautiful & pointless, about how to read poetry. it was like he read my mind over the past few months. poetry is something i will continue to study all my life, yet will continue to elude me... but that is its nature, after all. at any rate, this book is next on my reading list.

*      *      *

f i n a l l y,  some music i've had on repeat this week. i hate to talk small here, but this weather—! it is really just cloudy and blah. so thank goodness for great music, courtesy bonobo (i love walking to work with this in my ear)—

...and robert plant + alison krauss. (their album raising sand is stunning.)

that's all dears. happy earth day—be nice to her today!
and have a lovely weekend, of course.


light painting

 morgan fisher is an english musician and visual artist. he is inspired by the contrast of high-tech modernism with deeply traditional spirituality in japan, where he lives. i also found him via artworks magazine. his light photography looks like the heat + energy of music + flames.

over the weekend i went to hear music, the kind that puts the red shoes on your feet and makes you dance all night. so today, i love these light paintings/photographs. he writes:

"many people have commented that these light paintings emanate a musical feeling. whenever i make them i experience the exact same energy that i get from my musical improvisations—only the tools are different."  (you can download his statement here.)

especially that last one.
that is how it feels when it rains music, and you splash around dancing in it.

have a lovely tuesday!



i love it when one artist reminds me of another. seeing possible connections between different artists is encouraging + lends perspective—particularly if you yourself absorb + experiment with other artists' styles and ideas.

i saw a small connection between artists upon discovering bob trotman's sculptures in artworks magazine. i think he explores something here that perhaps we all wonder about. from his statement:
As a figurative sculptor my concern is the exploration, interpretation, and representation of the human body as a primal medium for projecting thought and feeling: in the expressive language of its poses and dress, its gestures, its facial expressions, and in its disposition in relation to its surroundings. Of the many possibilities open to me, I am most interested in expressions of alienation: alienation of the self from society, from the physical environment, and even of the self from itself. Not only is this feeling resonant for me personally, but, I believe, by way of attempts to avoid it, it is responsible for much of our social behavior. 

the article in artworks is called, "norman rockwell goes gonzo." i also thought of robert longo, who i've admired since first seeing his suit dancers. i love the suits, i love the free movements, the weirdness of the gestures. i think the constraints of society are exactly what make trotman's + longo's work resonate for me. some days you just don't feel like following the homogenized, acceptable script we've written for ourselves, and you wonder if others feel the same way.

maybe that's what weekends are for....
speaking of which—
f r i d a y ' s here!



project cabrini-green

cabrini–green was a chicago housing authority (CHA) public housing development on chicago's near north side. it was bordered by evergreen avenue on the north, orleans street on the east, chicago avenue on the south, and halsted street on the west. today, only a set of row-houses, built in the 1940s, still remain. at its peak, cabrini–green was home to 15,000 people, living in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings. over the years, gang violence and neglect created terrible conditions for the residents, and the name "cabrini–green" became synonymous with the problems associated with public housing in the united states.here

this is/was cabrini-green in chicago, illinois:

photos by zoe strauss

the original population of cabrini-green reflected the area's prior ethnic mix; poor italians, irish, puerto ricans, and african americans lived among the war workers and veterans. racial segregation overtook cabrini-green by the early 1960s. the large new apartments and large swaths of recreation space failed to mend the area's poverty. the difficulty blacks had finding better, affordable housing gave cabrini-green a permanent population. CHA failed to budget money to repair buildings and maintain landscaping as they deteriorated. cabrini-green's reputation for crime and gangs rivaled little hell's. the murders of two white police officers in 1970 and of seven-year-old resident dantrell davis in 1992 drew national attention. —here

over last weekend, i went to the museum with my mom. we saw some crazy art, but we missed seeing the exhibit on project cabrini-green:
on march 28th, two days before the beginning of the demolition, 134 self-contained, battery-powered LED modules were placed inside 134 of the building's vacated apartments. the lights will blink every day from 7pm to 1am CDT, for the four week duration of the demolition, and will be gradually erased with the building. each blinking light has a unique pattern. these patterns are a visual translation of poems written and recorded by the youth who attended workshops developed and instructed by [project leader jan] tichy, [co-developer efrat] appel, and students from the school of the art institute of chicago.    —from the project cabrini-green website

the project aims to highlight the significant moment of the demolition, while giving voice to young people, enabling them to reflect on social issues related to their communities. The idea to collaborate with youth derived from the wish to empower them through a creative experience.  —project cabrini-green website

go here and you can see the lights flicker together within the building. you can also click on individual apartments to hear the audio that the students created to go along with the light + poetry. it is a desolate yet strong work, evoking hope within hopelessness, giving a voice to vacancy.

if you're in or near chicago (or not), drop in at the mca to see the exhibit.
it's a week of statement art, isn't it? i love these projects with voices. they give me hope.



nothing in art is what it seems. and you can't eat a single one of ai weiwei's sunflower seeds, any more than you could marcel duchamp's marble sugar cubes. they'd break your teeth. but you can trudge over them, walk or skip or dance on these seeds, all of them made in china. or scoop up handfuls and let them run through your fingers, in the knowledge that someone, an old lady or a small-town teenager in jingdezhen, has delicately picked up each one and anointed it with a small brush. every seed is painted by hand. the town that once made porcelain for the imperial court has been saved from bankruptcy by making sunflower seeds. it is absurd.
it is a work of great simplicity and complexity. sunflower seeds refers to everyday life, to hunger (the seeds were a reliable staple during the cultural revolution), to collective work, and to an enduring chinese industry. but it is also symbolic. it joins several previous turbine hall commissions – most recently doris salcedo's 2008 shibboleth and miroslaw balka's how it is – in a dialogue about the social and cultural place of art.
adrian searle (for the guardian) on ai weiwei's "sunflower seeds" exhibit at the tate modern
i read a quote about ai weiwei that said his art + his politics are one and the same. i am struck by china's fear of this fearless man, large enough that they had to capture and hide him away. the situation fills me with incredulity, but i think the silver lining is the encouraging message that one person can make such an impact.

the chinese government was too late—ai weiwei has already spoken.

what do you think?
hope your wednesday blooms.


food writing!

surprise! i'm going to write about reading + writing today. reading + food writing.

have i ever mentioned how much i love food writing? i devour it (pun intended), regardless of what the book cover looks like, believe it or not. (heh.) laurie colwin and ruth reichl are some of my favorite ladies ever. colwin's food writing is full of wit and wry humor. she fearlessly writes about foods both humble (potato salad) and weird (black cake). in one of my favorite essays of hers, "alone in the kitchen with an eggplant," she talks about failed dinner parties in her shoebox apartment, and a date who makes her "jellied veal and a strange pallid ring that quivered and glowed with a faintly purplish light." (this was later revealed to be a cold almond shape. wow.)


meanwhile, ruth reichl's elegant, intimate accounts of her career as a food critic and editor are honest and romantic, full of details about meals eaten in paris and sandwiches of pastrami + mustard eaten as a restless young boarding school student. her book comfort me with apples was my first encounter with food writing. i think i read that book about 50 times before i felt ready to move on. it's exquisite.

i just finished reading cleaving, by julie powell. i guess this could be called food writing, since she does teach the reader a fair amount about meats + butchery, but it's really more confessional than food-related. it's one of those books that i read kind of guiltily, because the story (which involves cheating spouses) felt selfish and i felt voyeuristic reading it. it helps that powell gives the reader a respite from her adulterous adventures by including her experiences as an apprentice at a butcher shop. still, this book is memoir first, butcher lesson second.

now: you should know that ruth reichl also tells a tale of an affair in her books. yet somehow, perhaps since her life + work were absolutely rooted in food, and because she was a writer first, reichl's stories are sensuous + rich, with less of an edge to them; she's an artist, painting with gentle, handpicked words, whereas powell's starkly honest, if a bit self-indulgent account has a blunt edge indeed. different personalities, i suppose. and very different lives.
*note: i wrote this before i saw all the reviews in which cleaving is completely panned... just so you know.

now i'm reading anthony bourdain's medium raw and his writing has an edge too, but one honed with experience, and i'm really looking forward to reading more. also on my list: gabrielle hamilton's blood, bones and butter. oh my gosh. exciting. maybe i should move to new york city and become a waitress, and then break into the culinary scene. (want to read about that? try phoebe damrosch's service included. she was a captain at thomas keller's per se in nyc, and she proves waiting tables to be an art form, as it is in europe.)

well my dears, to wrap up my rambling, allow me to recommend a few [more] titles to you. in case your belly is ever craving some tasty morsels, or you are ever in need of some company, these are always there for you...! (you have my official bookgirl guarantee.)

1  //  2  //  3
oh i hope you go check those out. you won't be sorry.

have a wonderful friday!

images: 1, 2+34



over the weekend i found joni mitchell + chet baker at the little record store near my living quarters. i've been listening to both albums nonstop ever since (well, with little hilarious wiretap breaks in between...). trailing melodies on walks, singing to myself at work.

i think, though, joni mitchell is better for day, and chet baker for evening.

what glories.

and you know, wiretap is good any old time.
in fact, if you have 20 minutes right now, go listen to "a fresh new voice" (season 3, episode 15). jonathan goldstein is marvelous. he has constructed this show of phone calls and essays all full of his self-deprecating, nerdy, perfect deadpan humor that just never fails me.

and now...  tuesday!


billboard landscape

reading the creative review is mind-opening.
particularly when it comes to projects like this.

lead pencil studio has created a landscape that marries beauty + a billboard—but not the kind we see driving down the interstate. instead of taking away from the beauty of the plains and meadows, non sign ii enhances the beauty of the landscape beyond.

the sculpture is sited on the united states/canada border in blaine, wa. its 50ftx30ft frame is made entirely of blackened steel rods. normally when i see a billboard-sized object on the roadside, it obstructs my view of what's beyond it, but this is meant to draw focus toward the sky, the horizon, the things we might otherwise miss when we're speeding past. oh i love it. do you?

happy friday—and april fool's day... uh oh...!