Category Archives: NYC

19. Matisse

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is one of my favorite artists. I like the happy bright colors and the pastoral scenes of people frolicking in meadows. Appreciating Matisse is very easy. I find “new” art harder to sift through to find (according to my personal tastes) what is good and pleasing.  Art (approximately)pre-1950 has been pre-sifted. And is packaged up nicely in art history books and easily searchable in google, because the dead artists who painted very well are famous. So much “good” art has already been created. Why bother for looking for the new things people are creating? HAhahahahah I (sort of) jest, but have an example to illustrate how utterly complicated it can be to approach the works of my peers.

It seems that in doing the modern, visual arts-version of “easy”, “catchy” or “happy” you lose credibility in the art world. Artists, it seems, risk losing their credibility even in smiling:

Exhibit A: Helen Marten

Exhibit A: Helen Marten

I found Helen Marten in a 2010 article entitled “Meet the Best New Artists in Britain”. She is my age (technically three years younger). Here is an excerpt from the article (comments in brackets are mine):

“Sculptor Richard Wentworth is quite clear why 24-year-old Helen Marten is a young artist to watch: “I admire her sureness, fearlessness and lack of hubris,” he says. “It is complicated for her generation [Wait, what’s complicated?]. It is as if they were in a ludicrous souk [Am I in a ludicrous souk?]. But she is like a fantastic tourist: intelligently acquisitive, yet editorially selective. She is a brilliant fossicker…She introduces me to a sculpture that invokes George Nelson, father of American modernism, made of “slick, sleazy powder-coated aluminium”. She describes it as “at once corporate and semi-baroque” and “anchored” by a white PVC tailored suit jacket that is “seedy and flaccid”.

Hmmm…”Sleazy”…“Flaccid”…”Fossiker”…I fear we are teetering on the edge of a PG rating here, so let’s get back to Matisse.

I would prefer frolicking with clothing but this is art, people! My favorites are his interiors:

I took this picture below “in the manner of Matisse” which is what inspired this post:

Interior with a Half-Door

Interior with a Half-Door

My husband just made and installed this half-door. This post was also going to involve the merits of half-doors and “why aren’t these sort of doors more popular?”. But I am well beyond 300 words (I’ve pledged to write 300-1000 per day for 100 days, that is why this post is numbered nineteen) so I’ll save the merits of half-doors for another posting. It is going to involve Mr. Ed.

Stay Tuned!

Stay Tuned!

But I digress.

This is one of my favorites. Because I really appreciate a good view out of a window. Just because you don’t see sailboats on the Mediterranean out your window doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the view in the “manner of Matisse”.

In Place of Sailboats

In Place of Sailboats (this is the view from the spy’s window)

Shades of green on our street

Shades of green on our street

Easy, pretty and uncomplicated are so underrated in contemporary art. I think Matisse would agree.

Bread and Water: It’s What’s for Dinner

I’m well aware of the endless rhetoric of simple carbohydrates being a sworn enemy. Or that odd notion of “empty” calories. But seriously it’s bread. And it is delicious.

NOM NOM NOM

NOM NOM NOM

Bread is a historically significant thing, regardless of its perceived health benefit. And what about our spiritual and cultural health? These have got to count for something.

No thanks. I’m off carbs.

No thanks. I’m off carbs.

The last supper, loaves and fishes, unleavened bread in Exodus…Can bread really be all bad? Making bread is so enjoyable. Most of the work is completely hands off. The bowl of rising dough is just sitting on the counter doing its thing.

And it is so simple. Yeast, flour, water, salt.

Unlike a lot of baking, measuring isn’t really required. A teaspoon or so of yeast, two cups of water, around five cups of bread flour. I never use a measuring cup just mix in the flour until the dough is knead-able (still moist, but not so sticky it gums up your hands).

Crusty, crunchy. Chewy, soft.

The loaves I made today are made comme ca. I added ½ cup ground flaxseeds and ¼ chia seeds in place of some of the bread flour. Ground flaxseeds and chia add fiber and protein to the bread. Or substitute part of the flour with quinoa, oat, almond or other specialty flours. Or not.

Bread and water really does make a delightful dinner. Crusty hot bread right out of the oven. Crush a garlic clove ( homegrown garlic!) and put it in a little dish and then sprinkle some coarse salt on it.  Dab the bread in the salty garlic and the hot bread melts it and it is spicy and delicious. No olive oil, vinegar or complicated seasonings; compound butter…though those are takes on the concept. Bread; and water to drink.

I have written about food blogging before, or fogging as I like to think of it. And I’m concerned that I will be interpreted here as glorifying food and elevating it to something that is annoyingly pretentious with my previous description of melting garlic and so forth. But it really is tasty.

Enough bread to equal the caloric value of a serving of protein, a salad and a scoop of brown rice. But how much more indulgent to just eat the bread and skip the variety once in awhile. Perhaps it is eating a meal’s worth of bread in addition to dinner in which bread becomes villainized. It makes me think of this joke…

A patient is at a doctor’s appointment and the doctor tells him, “Don’t drink alcohol and don’t smoke. Don’t eat meat or sugar. Don’t eat simple carbohydrates and avoid processed food of any kind. Exercise daily, go to sleep early and avoid dairy.”

The patient asks, “And will this help me live a long time?”

The doctor replies, “No. It will just feel like a long time.”

HAhahahagha

13. Garden Happenings

The baby still picks green tomatoes but not to the degree it was happening before.

See?! This is the type I am not supposed to pick.

See?! This is the type I am not supposed to pick.

Yes! That is the right kind (a ripe Orange Icicle).

Yes! That is the right kind (a ripe Orange Icicle).

The yellow strawberry production has really slowed down a lot, but there are still a few to find.

Can you find the puppy in the strawberry plants?

Can you find the puppy in the strawberry plants?

The sorghum is very tall.

Yellow Bonnet Sorghum

Yellow Bonnet Sorghum

The variety we are growing is called Yellow Bonnet. Here is the (somewhat cryptic) description of the type:

120 days—A fairly long season syrup-type sorghum, originally from southern Missouri. Medium stalks reach 9-10 feet, showed no lodging in one trial, and only moderate tillering (suckering). (source)

I don’t know what “lodging” or “tillering” refers to. I realize I could google it but I think it is ok to let some things remain a mystery (at least for the moment).

Broomcorn is a type of sorghum and you may hear “sorghum” and “broomcorn” used interchangeably. We can find sorghum flour in our grocery store, which I assume is made from milling the grains. A sweet syrup can also be made from the stalks (but I think you need A LOT more than we have to make syrup). We mostly grow it for fun. I love that it gets so tall.

DSC_6696 (500x424)

We were trying to show how tall it is!

We were trying to show how tall it is!

We plan to try and “pop” the grains like popcorn. We saved the seeds last year and grew this sorghum from the seeds we saved. The plants are very sturdy and it would be a good plant to grow among sunflowers and corn to help keep them upright. In the teepee area…

Trying to show how big this one Serpente di Sicilia edible gourd is!

Trying to show how big this one Serpente di Sicilia edible gourd is!

I’ve never had much luck with carrots but continue to try growing them. The variety we grew this year is called White Belgian. I picked it mostly (ok, pretty much entirely) because I liked the art on the seed packet:

So far the carrots aren’t very big.

So far the carrots aren’t very big.

He doesn’t look too impressed.

He doesn’t look too impressed.

We will wait until the first frost to pull the rest (as these carrots are not frost-hardy). This past winter we found a few straggling carrots while building a snowman (a highly enjoyable snowman-building experience) so next year I will pick some frost-hardy carrots. The happenings continue outside the garden…

Sidewalk Anywhere Chalk!

Sidewalk Anywhere Chalk!

Little Artist

Little Artist

Swinging!

Swinging!

Purple asters blooming

Purple asters blooming

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Pokeweed is a poisonous weed that grows in our area (the one pictured is off to the side of our yard). I found some fun facts about pokeweed on the Ohio State website. I don’t know how true these “facts” and “folklore” are but they are entertaining:

The common name ‘pokeweed’ originates from the Native American word for ‘blood’, referring to the red dye that can be made from the fruit (however, the color is difficult to fix). Some of the other common names, such as ‘inkberry’ and ‘inkweed’, refer to this use.

Juice from pokeweed berries was once used to ‘improve’ the color of cheap red wine.

Supporters of President James Polk wore pokeweed twigs instead of campaign buttons during the 1845 campaign. (source)

A different weed: milk weed seed pods

A different weed: milk weed seed pods

Back to edible things…

Did you know you can eat young acorn squash raw?

Did you know you can eat young white acorn squash raw?

They taste like raw zucchini.

Outside the garden, my husband built a little piece of a fence. So what do you call a section of fence that basically serves no purpose?

Minimalist Art!

Minimalist Art!

Some people just don’t get art.

Some people just don’t get art.

It has a certain je ne sais quoi, non?

It has a certain je ne sais quoi, non?

Last month, Walter De Maria died, so we are doing our part to make sure minimalist and earthwork art continues in his absence.

Finally, in EXTREMELY exciting news: We cut into the Delice de la Table melon and it is delicious.

Delice de la Table Melon

Delice de la Table Melon

It is the tastiest, best thing I’ve ever grown. Will definitely be saving the seeds and growing again!