A Celebratory Week to Remember

Well it was a fun, celebratory week to remember — one for the recollection record books!

Easter Sunday started it off — after a month of prep with finally getting a new garage roof completed. We still have some refinement to do so I’ll have to post a picture later. My Clivia plant, also known as a Kaffir Lily, seemed to be waiting to bloom on this special occasion. How appropriate and really beautiful this African plant is. My father-in-law gave it to me with multiple “babies” as offshoots that I divided and gave to my sister and sons. I’m waiting to hear if theirs’ bloomed.

Kaffir Lily blooms on Art Is Everywhere

Other plants that are flourishing are on our roof. The two types of butter/bib and arugula lettuce are three times the size of this now and nearly ready to harvest. Snap beans, beets and cauliflower seeds are coming along. I’ll need to replant the carrots though.

Rooftop Garden GlowPear Containers on AIE

You can read more about these hydroponic GlowPear planters on Houzz, where we purchased a second one.

My husband was able to get tickets through his office to the National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC), which is near impossible since they are sold out already through July. There was a special viewing between 8 – 10 am midweek and I took my friend Liza. Although we needed Peter with us to enter, he decided not to attend in order for us to be able to when security discovered my miniature pairing knife in my purse that I had forgotten all about. Ugh!! They wouldn’t let me leave it with them so Peter took it back to his car and missed the museum opportunity but he’ll get more tickets. He also had a meeting that was going to shorten his time anyway and you really need a full day, as we discovered, to take it all in. We didn’t return home until 4:30. It took over 7 hours to go through at a leisurely pace, which you need to do to be able to read and process all the info. Fortunately, I had cleared my work calendar in advance. There is a tremendous amount to cover and the museum does a good job of showing viewers the progression of the African American history through three sub-terrain, what I call the “oppressive” concourses that move through the start of Slavery to Freedom > Defending Freedom and Segregation > Changing America 1968 & Beyond. Although there is still a sense of uncertainty at the end of the exhibit, one leaves with a positive appreciation of the African American history and all its accomplishments as well as the strength of the American Spirit.

The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American. — Lonnie Bunch (Founding Director)

NMAAHC museum building on AIE

NMAAHC museum

The first sense one has upon entering the museum is from the exterior grill work that suppresses the light, yet fills the space with ornamentation. It is supposed to recall the grill work in New Orleans that was made by slave labor and you do get a sense, especially in the lower galleries, of being in a cargo hold of a slave ship with only one way up and out.

NMAAHC grill work on Art Is Everywhere

You start at the bottom and walk through each concourse and move onto the next via ramps. There are no elevators or restrooms on any of these floors. If the intent was to be somewhat uncomfortable, then it works. There are, however, plenty of places to sit and rest, watch a movie, reflect or just take a break. I had to use the restroom and needed to walk all the way up while Liza rested. There was a placard at the top warning that once you exited you could not re-enter. I had to flag someone down to ask them if I could come back in. Although it wasn’t a problem, I can’t imagine the planners didn’t think this common occurrence through. It must happen a lot. There were hoards of people in line a this point and we were only half way through the exhibit. I hustled back to get a move on before it became crowded. It was starting to on the third concourse, especially when we visited the Emmett Till Memorial, where no pictures were allowed. This was a horrible event about a 14 year old African American boy who was lynched simply because some “white” folk were looking to make examples of blacks. The outcome is what sparked insurgence, uprising and riots, along with the tragic death of Martin Luther King. However, the final part of the main exhibit shows the progression of the African Americans to assimilate within the middle class, become major TV and music celebrities. In fact, America has a lot to be thankful for with their cultural contribution.

Colonial Slavery figures on Art Is Everywhere

Prominent Colonial historical figures including Thomas Jefferson and Mum Bet, who sued the State of Massachusetts to win her freedom and consequently abolished slavery in MA

Ashley's Sack 1 NMAAHC on AIE

This story is pretty heartbreaking. There were many that were but this one spoke to me.

Ashley's Sack 2 NMAAHC on AIE

It was interesting to note that at the very start of the Slave Trade, which was sparked by the sugar trade, Creole Africans were wealthy diplomats and highly sought after for their language capabilities and cultural knowledge.

Concourse 3 - 2 NMAAHC on AIE

Moving from Concourse 3 to 2

slave and free houses at NMAAHC on Art Is Everywhere

Juxtaposition between Slave House on lower Concourse 3 and Freed Slave’s own home on upper Concourse 2

Stereotypes at NMAAHC on AIE

Stereotypes in toys and paraphenalia

Segregated clinic hours at NMAAHC on AIE

These segregated clinic hours are hard to believe in this current time

Maple Leaf Rag on AIE

My parents used to dance to the Maple Leaf Rag

Angola guard station_interactive bar at NMAAHC on AIE

Angola Prison Guard Station and the Interactive “Segregation Bar” where you can follow a movement as if you’re a member

Soul Train on Art Is Everywhere

1968 & Beyond brings up Soul Train, which was big part of my childhood

Assimilating into Middle America on Art Is Everywhere

Assimilating into Middle America

Another Rat Pack Digs on Art Is Everywhere

The other Rat Pack Digs in Chicago

Foxy Brown and Sly and Family Stone on AIE

Foxy Brown movies still play on TV and notice Sly & Family Stone written on his piano keys

Main NMAAHC exhibit end on AIE

Main exhibit ends with highlights from the 2000’s like Hurricane Katrina and the Obama Administration, how could we forget.

We decided to break for lunch. The food at the Sweet Home Cafe was excellent! You could choose which regional fare you wanted to try. Of course I went right for the Creole Southern Duck / Andouille Sausage Gumbo but then changed my mind at the last-minute to get the Shrimp and Grits because the shrimp were gigantic! The meal was delicious and a generous portion! The dining hall was in the shape of the “ark” or museum Congo ship, yet each layer had vines growing in the indented, internal troughs. The back walls were mirrored to make the space look twice as large as what we thought it could hold. We didn’t wait around for that test because the buses of people were now streaming in.

Panoramic Mall view from the top of NMAAHC on AIE

Panoramic Mall view from the top

Looking down on the Gift Shop on AIE

Looking down on the Gift Shop

Reproductions of Mary Jackson's baskets in the gift shop on AIE

Reproductions of Mary Jackson’s baskets in the gift shop

After a much needed energy refresh, we tackled the top four floors. Similarly to the sub-floors, where you start at the bottom and walk up, we started in reverse at the very top and moved downward. We visited all the floors but only experienced three. There were elevators and escalators and restrooms on all of these. The top floor Culture Galleries was my favorite. It showed the importance of the African American culture in food, music, arts, fashion, and sports. I by-passed the last, but fully savored all the others. I was just as impressed with the exhibition layout as I was with the rich content. The first oval room had double display bays with the interior, bench-seating to the double-sided, wall-alcoves with a musical entertainment-video that changed visuals with the continuous music that wrapped around the top of the room. We moved from here to the Visual Art Gallery with primarily contemporary art (not my thing) to the Musical Achievement wing with Chuck Berry’s car greeting us at the entry. I breezed through the Theatre section and will have to go back.

Food & Culture greet you on the top 4th floor of NMAAHC on AIE

Food & Culture greet you on the top 4th floor. Chef Leah Chase is prominently featured with her Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans.

Earth Wind & Fire at NMAAHC on AIE

Earth Wind & Fire is one of my favorite bands highlighted in the Musical component

Allen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz sectionAllen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz section on AIE

Allen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz section

Level 3 housed the Community Galleries, where some of the main exhibit details were further explored. For instance, there was an entire room dedicated to Muhammad Ali, another section to Ben Carson, and another to the Military Experience. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any recognition given to Clarence Thomas but did see Thurgood Marshal and Anita Hill mentioned in regard to the Supreme Court. There were also mini exhibits dedicated to Making a Way Out of No Way with progress in medical, religion and school, etc., highlighted.

We didn’t have enough energy to explore the Explore More Gallery on the 2nd level, which was mainly interactive exhibits. I popped my head in and saw one older white woman, who was the only one dancing to an instructional video by an African American dance troupe. Others were watching and encouraging her as if she was playing “Wei” by herself but doing a pretty good job.

We took an Uber home and had an interesting discussion with our American-Cuban driver, Marisol about the experience. Funny, we missed Oprah by one day, as she was there the next day to screen the Henrietta Lacks movie airing on HBO. I read the book several years ago and am interested to see the movie. It’s definitely a story that needs more exposure.

Earlier in the week, Peter and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by finally visiting the Trump Hotel to see how the Old Post Office was revamped. We had drinks in the main lobby, which is huge but well decorated. The main architecture and iron struts of the original building remained and painted gold. I liked the peacock, teal blue and green velvet seating paired with amber and gold throughout the expansive room. The bar wall was mirrored to the top and filled with clear glass decanters and glasses situated on dark mahogany shelving. Very impressive. Two large TV’s were playing Fox News. We were seated next to what had to be a bevy of beautiful friends of The Real Housewives of DC. No kidding. This was entertaining to say the least.

Trump International Hotel anniversary for drinks on AIE

Trump International Hotel anniversary for drinks. The ladies had left by this point.

Trump Hotel Bar area on Art Is Everywhere

Although the ambience was captivating, the service was off. We had to call someone over after 15 minutes. They gave us water and nuts without napkins and the hostess took our initial order. The place was nearly filled but not that busy. We sampled the signature cocktails, which were unfortunately too expensive at $25 – $29 and actually did not taste very good, which is too bad! We stuck with wine and cheese choices which were good and surprisingly affordable. All in all, it was a different way to celebrate an off-year; even though, there can be some improvements made, especially if you’re expecting the best.

Trump DC Hotel at night on AIE

Trump DC Hotel at night

Meanwhile, the rest of the week was enjoying the gorgeous spring weather. Even the cats seemed to relish this indoors and out.

Cats sleeping on AIE

This picture cracks me up. These cats sleep so differently.

Cats outside on AIE

Ingrid enjoys outside on AIE

Ingrid just turned 1 year old

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Butterflies Everywhere

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I like butterflies. Well, I’m finding butterflies everywhere these days. How appropriately so because of the upcoming transformative celebration of Easter this Sunday.

We host our annual brunch for about 50 folks, so this post will consequently be short. 😉

This is my recent butterfly find from Elle Decor, as they tend to be circling back in style. (Personally, I never thought they flitted out of style.)

Butterflies everywhere in style via Elle Decor on Art Is Everywhere

Butterflies in style via Elle Decor

You can find recent and previous butterfly references here.

Also, here are a few updates and worthy mentions:

 

  1. The Fearless Girl Statue will stay in place for at least a year — until February 2018. Let’s hope everyone gets so used to it that it becomes permanent.

2. If you haven’t read the book Hillbilly Elegy – A Memoir of Family & Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance, it is a worthwhile read with real enjoyment. It’s both eye-opening and exceptionally told (orated by the author) from the insider’s perspective that helps explain a large portion of America’s people and their upbringing while being one of the few to “make it” and find the American Dream. (Even Oprah read this book, or is at least shown in a photo with the book on her table.)

Although the memoir was specific to Vance, it was embraced as a personification of the everyday struggles of America’s white underclass, and it shone a light on issues including race and privilege in America.Deadline Hollywood.

This just learned — the book will become a movie.

Click this link to listen to a sample. It personally moved me with my father’s Kentucky roots and even some real life characters being similar in name. For instance, J. D.’s name and his sister’s are similar names to my brother, John D (named after my father) and my sister Lindsey. Even his first home town in Jackson, KY, is all too uncanny to me. Although he currently lives in San Francisco, is a venture capitalist, works with Steve Case, he has DC Gibson Dunn law connections. There were unexpected guffaw moments of hilarious laughter and equal shocks of sadness but if everyone read this, there could be signs of hope, which is a good thing for this time of year — and a perfect thing on which to end this post.

Happy Easter!

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Beck and the Realization that Happy is Hard

I was delighted to read the Art of Sound story in the New York Times Magazine recently and even happier to discover Beck (Hansen) was one of the three iconic musicians profiled, along with Lamar Kendrick and Tom Waits.

Beck via NYTimes magazine on Art Is Everywhere

Beck via NYTimes Magazine

Wyatt Mason, the article’s author, describes music as the art form that “unlike a painting cannot reach out and turn your head as you walk by” or like other art forms that mandate engagement, “songs live in the air.” The more creative of my two sons perceptively thinks that music is the truest art form in that is “speaks” to everyone. Personally, I think it is up to the listener to hear music — by being “open” to hearing.

Beck is one of my favorite musicians. Not only do I love his music, his creative genius but his ability to create his own music independent of what might be a best seller. Morning Phase, his most recent creation, did just that though without the intention. It received the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2014 — and well deserved. Interestingly, I never heard any of the songs from this collection played on the main-stream radio; I confess, to which I hardly listen to anymore but was listening to in 2014. It occurred to me that the songs must have gained their popularity through online-radio-streaming. This is exactly where we (my husband and I) heard it first — streaming on the Morning Phase Radio through Apple iTunes Radio that is now our go-to radio station. Listening to any of these songs, particularly Blue Moon and Morning, can help center my distracted thoughts and calm stress anytime during the day.

Beck_Morning_Phase on Art Is Everywhere

I’m naturally curious about what next phase of songs Beck will put out. Imagine my surprise to discover while reading the article that he must believe in a Big Magic moment too. He tells the story of how he had met Pharrell (Williams) in the studio and having “this strong feeling that he wanted to work with him.” In fact, he had a strong feeling about writing happy songs for “a number of years.” It never happened and Pharrell told Beck that he had just produced this song called, “Happy.” Well, we all know how that took off….!

Beck doesn’t beat himself up but I think he believes that the timing just wasn’t right for him for this type of song and besides, he concedes Pharrell, “kinda nailed this one.” We all have to agree but the idea was out there for someone’s taking. The more it is thought of, I think the more it comes to life — at least for someone. Side note: This is the exact sequence that did happen to me and coincidentally right after describing Big Magic in a previous post.  My big idea that I had been working on for months was ready to unveil but I couldn’tl until my website was completed. Technology was my hold up and the unveiling of my idea was hijacked by another company. Although, the design styles and quality of the materials are not the same, the concept was. Although frustrating, you just keep going and enjoy that you’ve created something — and that you had a good idea.

Beck’s next phase of songs are as Mason describes, “huge, dance floor-ready” with a “whole new sonic range” and “nothing like Beck has done before.” I’ve heard this song on my Beck radio but since other artists play on it, I wasn’t aware it was Beck.

Even though Beck describes happy songs similar to comedy in that they are the “easiest to fail at” because they are the “hardest to write,” I bet he’s done a pretty good job and I’m eager to hear more of the outcome.

When asked when is he his happiest, Beck answered, as a true artist would,
“My most alive place is in the moment of, maybe not fulfillment, but where there’s the possibility.”

I can relate. For me, it’s the enthusiasm, the excitement and the inspiration of the discovery of something that is and could be really good. The doing to make it a reality is the hard part. There is satisfaction in the completion but it is not the same as the initial possibility and its exuberance.

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The Fearless Girl

Last Wednesday a week ago, many women abandoned their work and marched to recognize “A Day Without A Woman” but I found the Fearless Girl statue facing down the well-known “raging” Wall Street Bull sculpture much more remarkable and leaving a powerful impression. Ironically the US-based political march was mostly by angry women striking about a life without women with participants shouting visceral chants against the newest administration. I’m for free speech but I think the Fearless Girl, precisely as little as she is, has more impact.

The march was strategically planned on International Women’s Day, which has a long history (since 1911) of celebrating the positive accomplishments of women. It brings recognition to the importance of women, since the oppression of women was first recognized in 1908 — with a march. The recent women’s strike was not mentioned on the IWD’s website.

This is not to say marches don’t send a message. They can and have affected change. I’m in Northern VA, where schools had to close because female teachers didn’t come to work. The Fearless Girl statue, however, gives an enduring visual perspective through the personal expression of art that a fleeting march just can’t. The statue brought all sorts of questions to mind because I didn’t know its backstory but wondered who the artist was and how the statue was able to be placed in the current location. Will it stay?

Here’s what I learned. The statue was commissioned and officially put in location by State Street Global Advisors and they tweeted this statement:  We wanted to highlight the power of women in leadership. So we made room in the one place business couldn’t ignore.

Fearless Girl video by State Street Advisors via Youtube on AIE

Fearless Girl video by State Street Advisors via YouTube. Click this link to play.

This is a wonderful video! I love the demonstration of the creative process and the message. Hey, but where’s the credit to the artist, who is female, by the way?!!

Here’s how they installed — the day before the women’s march and IWD.

And the message at this little super power of a statue’s feet says much.

Fearless girl statue base via CNN on AIE

The Fearless Girl faces the Charging Wall Street Bull.

Fearless girl statue back via wbur_AIE

via WBUR

Fearless girl statue front via CNN_AIE

She really does look like a super heroine, with her stance and standing strong in the wind, visible by the flow of her dress and movement of her hair. I hope she stays in place. Based on some of the comments on Twitter, sadly, it looks like this is a temporary installation. There is a petition going around to keep her in place, however.

Also, at the time of this writing, I could not find a single mention of credit (via State Street or the McCannNY Ad Agency, who is running their campaign) given to the female artist who created the statue and who is shown in the video. I asked about it on YouTube because overlooking this significant information seems contrary to the message the statue is being used by the ad agency to give — females make a difference (girl power and #shemakesadifference) — and should be noted as such, as should all artists.

Finally, I found the artist mentioned on KTLA 5 news, where I found the picture below. Her name is Kristen Visbal, and here’s her wonderful work!

My favorite picture thus far is how this beautifully rendered statue has already inspired little girls to be the super heros they are.

Abrianna Tabor Almonte wears her red-and-pink superhero outfit to go see the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street. (Credit: Amanda Marmor via CNN)_AIE

Abrianna Tabor Almonte wears her red-and-pink superhero outfit to go see the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street. (Credit: Amanda Marmor via CNN)

Post this publication, here’s a reader’s comment in the Washington Post remarking on the same, non-mention of the artist.

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Post Mardi Gras Mention

Another Mardi Gras has gone by but not without making a post Mardi Gras mention about several events happening recently.

First, with tribute to a Southern cuisine-mix and Mardi Gras, about which I’ve just hosted 2 fun dinners for friends. The first being for my Book Group two Tuesdays ago after my birthday weekend. To “prepare” 😉 Peter and I experienced the new Honeysuckle restaurant by Chef Hamilton Johnson because he features the unusual pairing of Nordic and Southern cuisine, and does it exceptionally well.

Honeysuckle-logo-food_AIE

The restaurant is in the former location of Vidalia a long-time DC classic. It’s chef was Chef Johnson’s mentor, so stands to reason he would follow suit, but in his own way. You still have to go downstairs to get to the restaurant but from the outside, you’re not sure it’s the restaurant or so upscale with graffiti-style murals of skulls and bones by Rick Bach on a bold red backdrop. The simple Honeysuckle name is on the outside black canopy entrance. The name doesn’t seem to jive with the theme. However, if you think about it, honeysuckle is one of the sweetest-smelling and hardiest flowering-vines in the South — one of my favorites. Honeysuckle also grows in Finland and is the main ingredient of one of their famous teas. In this case, the complexity of the sweet and flowery balances the hard-edge juxtaposition with the food and dĂ©cor, maybe also just like the chef with his many tattoos. Chef Johnson is a master of combining complete opposites with creative, cooking artistry.

Chef Hamilton Johnson profile_AIE

This photo greets you at the bottom of the stairs

Honeysuckle2 interior_AIE

The restaurant interior is a mix of more murals on the ceiling, a vermilion colored back-lit bar with rotating images of Finland on a large TV screen. Dining areas and rooms are separated by themed rock stars with their large-scale portraits commanding a presence as some of Chef Johnson’s favorite performers. We ate in the Freddie Mercury elevated area. It was a gorgeous setting with shimmery white-capiz wallcovering that I recognized from Maya Romanoff. Mercury was wearing a bunch of bananas as a headdress, which seemed to downplay the elegance in a self-deprecating and appreciative way. Freddie Mercury Room Honeysuckle_AIE

I had mentioned to our waiter that it was my birthday and part of the reason for attending was to experience the unusual Nordic / Southern pairing. Being from New Orleans and that I’ll be going on a Scandinavian cruise to visit my Danish heritage, experiencing the combination was something I could appreciate. I’m not sure if this is how we received a complementary order of sweet breads from the chef. It’s not something I would have ordered but was the most delicious thing!

Honeysuckle_sweetbreads_AIE

The winter vegetable salad of pistachio, prune, meyer lemon, buttermilk, tarragon, buckwheat on butter lettuce served on top of the Icelandic dressing was something I semi-replicated for my book group dinner, with the addition of Southern grapefruit, mandarin orange segments, walnuts and cranberried goat cheese crumbles. It was delicious and I’ll do it again and again. (Good tip: put the dressing on the bottom to prepare in advance without wilting the lettuce)

Book Group Dinner version of Scandinavian_Southern style_AIE

My Book Group Dinner version of Scandinavian + Southern style – Mardi Gras colored flowers with Fleur-de-lis Iris & dragonflies connected to Norse goddes Freya

Scandanavian-Southern-salad_AIE

Winter Beet Salad version

Peter had the fois gras to start and the slow roasted Icelandic cod, rutabaga, chicken crackling, smoked roe, malted veloute. The seared sea scallops, pig tail tortellini, squash fondue, coffee-bacon jam, parmesan was initially calling my name but the waiter talked me into their pork special, which I am not sure is currently the same on their menu as the dulse rubbed pork tenderloin, cipollini, melted parsnip, roasted apple, kale, as mine had Icelandic dried seaweed. I won out with mine, which was rich and abundant. We finished by sharing the butterscotch panna cotta, oats, skyr creme fraiche, rum raisin, toffee meringue dessert, which was soft, light and divine! This is one restaurant where we will be returning, especially as the menu changes and our waiter informed us intends on being even more daring with the Nordic-Southern pairings.

Honeysuckle_cod2_AIE

Icelandic Cod

Honeysuckle Pannacotta_AIE

Luscious panna cotta for dessert

Then second Mardi Gras mention was a combination of this Southern theme with Nordic style to pay tribute to the book we read, God’s Daughter, Vikings of the New World Saga Book 1 by Heather Day Gilbert. Since I didn’t take pictures during my book group dinner, I replicated afterwards (see some above as well as below). I will be making some of the same dishes on Mardi Gras evening to celebrate our good friend, Steve’s birthday. Most years his birthday falls on Ash Wednesday or during Lent and he can never fully celebrate while giving up all drinking and sweets during this time. We thought the timing worth acknowledging with a dinner for the many times we’ve been treated.

Scandinavian Style_Creole Seafood Gumbo_AIE

Scandinavian Style + Creole Seafood Gumbo

2 Types of King Cake - traditional & Danish_AIE

2 Types of King Cake – traditional & Danish

Instead of the Nordic theme, this second dinner was full on New Orleans. However, unlike the typical seafood gumbo, like I did for the ladies, or with chicken and andouille sausage, this gumbo was made with scallops (Steve’s favorite and happens to be mine as well) from Peter’s New York Times recipes. Scallops are more New England than they are southern but this was a nice twist on a classic New Orleans recipe. Mark Bittman does a great job of simply making this recipe work. I also replicated the Southern beet salad.

Scallop Gumbo_Art Is Everywhere

Scallop Gumbo. This was delicious and maybe even better than the previous.

We had our 4th King Cake of the season from Best Buns. It is scrumptious with an almond base, traditional frosting and colored sprinkles and unlike others, not dry at all. Getting one from Calludah’s, which is where I would have ordered would have cost over 4 times as much, so not worth it when this is local and extremely good.

I was going to make a six layer doberge cake but realizing the work, we had scouted a local one at Del Frisco’s for my birthday and it was well worth the venture. However, we found a small chocolate one for Steve instead. Although 3 layers, it is just the right size from Wegman’s, which is where we’ve started doing most of our shopping with savings.

Del Friscos Lemon Doberge_AIE

Del Friscos Lemon Doberge Cake

personal chocolate cake_AIE

Personal Chocolate Cake

Birthday wishes_AIE

Making Birthday Wishes

Now that we’re starting the Lenten season, it’s nice to reflect back on the Mardi Gras abundance this year with many reasons to celebrate — with our own creative takes on ways to enjoy.

Picture perfect birthday day_AIE

Picture perfect birthday day

I’ll end with a pretty perfect pairing of Mardi Gras transitioning to the reflective time of Lent, sacrifice and service for others. Cleland Powell III, who is the vice president of Iberia Bank in New Orleans, was chosen as the artist for the annual 2017 Rex Proclamation (King of Carnival poster, which calls for all to participate in Mardi Gras). He is a self-taught painter and was selected for his talent. Normally, the artist would be paid 10 percent of poster sales for such an honor. According to The New Orleans Advocate, Powell is donating his profits to the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, the Rex foundation that benefits the city, especially its public schools. The article also mentions, his work is in good company. Previous proclamation artists include Dawn DeDeaux, Mignon Faget, Randolph Tucker Fitz-Hugh, Tony Green, George Schmidt, Jean Seidenberg and Tim Trapolin.

Rex Proclamation via The New Orleans Advocate_AIE

Rex Proclamation via The New Orleans Advocate

I still wear my Mignon Faget giraffe necklace from when I was in high school and Tony Green happened to have his studio across from my parents’ condo before they sold it to new owners who then sold it to “Brangelina.”

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Artistic Coincidence

Imagine my surprise to read of another artist with my name and in the same week about a Spencer mural. This is some interesting artistic coincidence.

The first alert had the headline, “Ashley Jackson’s paintings feature as murals at Wakefiled Kirkgate Station underpass,” via the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. This is my full maiden name but happens to be profiling a male British artist who paints lovely murals and watercolors at age 75.

Ashley Jackson artist in Yorkshire mural 1 on Art Is Everywhere

via Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Photos by Ashley Jackson

Ashley Jackson artist in Yorkshire mural 2 on Art Is Everywhere

Coincidentally, my parents named all their children, including all the sisters, with English male first names, which helped to make our pretty common last name, Jackson, stand out.

You can see more of his wonderful work on his website. You can see more of my work on mine. 😉

Farmhouse on Blackshaw Moore by Ashley Spencer of Yorkshire on Art Is Everywhere end of day when all is calm by Ashley Jackson of Yorkshire on Art Is Everywhere

The second coincidence regards the Spencer mural in Spencer, Iowa. It’s actually a proposed mural by Myles and Amanda Musser, owners of Salon M Spa.

Spencer Iowa Salon M proposed mural on Art Is Everywhere

Spencer Iowa Salon M proposed mural via The Daily Reporter

They were smart to go to the City Council prior to painting. There have been plenty of businesses in other cities where murals have unfortunately been painted over because they violated the city’s sign ordinance. As lovely as this murals is, it sadly has been put on the back burner because it’s an issue that Spencer town officials are reluctant to address. Here’s a synopsis with some of the quotes from the Daily Reporter:

Currently, city ordinances limit a building’s commercial signage to 20 percent of any exterior wall. In addition, if murals were deemed to be art, they would not be allowed to be used for advertising, as they would generally exceed the allotted 20 percent…

In order for the mural to be “less distracting to traffic and so forth,” Don Hemphill, the City Attorney drafted an amendment to the ordinance which states:

…defined murals as signs and specified several regulations the murals would be subject to, such as limiting text in the mural to 3 percent of the composition and a limit of one mural per wall face. The draft allows murals an exemption from a portion of the sign ordinance that requires a licensed sign erector to install the signage. In addition, murals would be limited to walls that do not face a street…

The Salon’s mural would face the alley.

Hemphill went on to clarify, “We have a provision in our ordinance that prohibits obscene signs, to the extent that those can be defined. That would still apply here…” and “…We don’t regulate content. So this could result in a mural that you would think is just horrible but, as long as it’s not obscene or somehow distracts from the traffic, it’s going to be permitted,”

The City Engineer Jim Thiesse mentioned:

Everybody here is like-minded and the people that are proposing the mural are like-minded,” Thiesse said, referring to the original request by the Mussers. “They’re going to put something out there that’s decent and that’s what you’re addressing and trying to allow.”

However Thiesse went on to say that changing the ordinance would also make it more difficult to remove a mural the public found objectionable. Rather, Thiesse noted that variances for murals could be approved on a case by case basis.

“There’s a lid on the box and you’re going to take the lid off the box. I would just caution you that it seems good when everybody’s thinking alike. The problem with the public is that there can be people out there that think differently and it can be not good.”

The Council also seemed to question, what is advertising, really? There was some interesting philosophical discussion regarding this but:

Ultimately, the commission voted to not forward a recommendation of the current draft on to the Spencer City Council. Hemphill indicated that the commission could potentially conduct a public hearing regarding murals at a later time, as could the City Council.

Hopefully the mural will eventually get painted. It says a lot without words!

And here’s an added way to bind these together with all the different uses of the mighty binder clip. This video will make you think differently of this magical tool.

Binder Clips video_AIE

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Another Use for the Wood Pile This Winter

Do you have a stocked wood pile? If so, then you have an opportunity for artistry.

Just look at these examples of another use for the wood pile this winter and how art is everywhere.

From where the wood comes takes on a visual meaning with this fallen tree.

Fallen Tree Wood Pile_AIE

Perhaps this layout suggests the wood pile can be moved?

Mobility Wood Pile_AIE

Or let it move itself.

Fish Wood Pile_AIE

Animals seem to be popular particularly owls.

Mobility Wood Pile_AIE

This one changes with snow and look who’s peeking out.

Bear Wood Pile_AIE

Coming across this wild boar wood pile art might scare you while walking in the woods but it’s one of my favorites.

Boar Wood Pile_AIE

Intricate human portraits can also be created with multiple types and colored wood.

Wood Pile Portraits_AIE

Or add color for a bold abstract impact that can be helpful in guiding your path.

This take a little extra digging but could be a good workout in the new year.

Colored Wood Pile_AIE

Wood piles don’t always have to be linear or laid straight in one plane, as seen in this spiral construction.

Spiral Wood Pile_AIE

They can even be a sphere, which is very unusual. I just wonder what would happen if you took one log out for the fire? 😉

Sphere Wood Pile_AIE

Speaking of a fire. This next wood pile reminds me of an oven. It uses a traditional stacked construction with the stair supports to help frame. The creative layout comes with 2 layers and a lot of wood that will keep you warm in the winter, hence the oven concept perhaps?

Under Stairs Wood Pile_AIE

Finally, this hut construction is truly artistic and more for execution than for practical use — unless, the huts can be shelters. However, I rather suspect they may have been made by Patrick Dougherty, who fashions large sculptures out of twigs and natural objects.

Wood Pile Huts_AIE

However you stack your wood pile, just know it doesn’t have to be boring and you can have fun while doing the chore.

The Curious Incident of the Dog is Delightful

We saw the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time two weeks ago. I just haven’t had time to write about it.

It was more than delightful; It was one of the best plays that I’ve seen!

It was a family affair with our older son and his wife joining us at the Kennedy Center matinée. We had front row seats in the third tier with these gorgeous starburst cluster-chandeliers above us.

kennedy-center-ceiling lights_aie

I had read the book by Mark Haddon and loved it. They were unfamiliar with the story line and it was interesting to see their heartfelt reaction for the first time. Libby teaches public high school students, so I thought she might appreciate the challenges for this teenager in the play.

 It was one of the most active and physical plays I’ve seen going from a somber moment to a super-energized cacophony. The book fully captivated me and the play even more so because it added the visual and auditory layer that the book couldn’t fully generate, except in your imagination.

Both the book and the play put you in Christopher Boone, the 15 year old protagonist’s head, as if you were the one who was experiencing what it is like to have Aspergers first hand. It is a dichotomy in that he is brilliant but unable to manage social situations easily. Everyday hectic living can present crippling sensory overload for him.

Christopher sets out to solve the mystery of the death of his neighbor’s dog, who he discovers is killed on the front lawn with a pitchfork. The adventure leads to revelations that even “normal” teens, much less adults, would be shocked to their core to learn. Because Christopher has Aspergers, a milder functioning form of autism, he takes everything at face value and in some ways is able to deal with the truth better than most.

curious-dog-play_aie

Just like when I read the book, I found myself getting uncontrolably emotional because you can’t help but be moved by Christopher’s accomplishments.

The entire set was a digital sight and sound box that was brilliantly used and constantly changing. I can’t really describe it more than let this video speak for itself — and even it doesn’t do the play justice. If you have the chance while it is on tour, it’s just something to see!

There’s a reason it has won 5 Tony awards!

Afterwards, we have a wonderful dinner at Centrolina in the new City Center area in DC. Piers company, Clark Construction, had built the project.

centrolina restaurant_aie

We sat at the table closest to the center dark wall

Centrolina drinks_AIE

Their special cocktails: a Negroni in back (without Campari) + Rimini in front with 2 different amaros, cachaca and pineapple. Both are excellent!

Views of CityCenter below.  city-center-gateway_aie

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plaza-city-center-dc-aie

Side note: Although there is so much, actually endless topics to write about, this blog may be posted 2 times a week after this post, due to the time involved to write, which I don’t have as much as I used to with other things taking some priority. Plus, I welcome reducing some of the load.

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More than Just Work at MĂ©tier

MĂ©tier is simply described on the restaurant website as a French word that means a field of work, an occupation that is someone’s area of expertise and for which he or she has received specialized training. MĂ©tier, the restaurant, is much more than just work. Although the chef’s expertise and the staff’s work goes into every aspect of the dining experience, they serve you a long-lasting memory of food-rapture and delight.

Before traveling for a needed getaway to Rhode Island, Peter and I were invited by our good friends to sample an evening reconnecting while experiencing one of the most delectable meals at MĂ©tier, Chef Eric Ziebold’s newest restaurant. I was fortunate that my ability to taste had just returned; even though, I still had the unfortunate and uncontrollable symptoms of coughing that I hope did not disturb the other guests.

The evening started with us “metro-ing” to the 7th Street, NW location near Mt. Vernon Square, in between Downtown and Noma (N. of Massachusetts Ave.). The area is undergoing a resurgence so not necessarily the safest place to be at night.

We were standing outside of the restaurant but it wasn’t apparent to us that it was MĂ©tier. The exterior was dark and easy to overlook. One had to walk into an alcove to open the door and at first we only saw Kinship written on the left side. Then we saw MĂ©tier written on the right.

kinship_metier-restaurant-exterior_AIE

Kinship, as it turns out is the “less fancy” version of MĂ©tier. There’s not a waiting list of months to get a reservation.

After passing through the unassuming doors of the black entryway near the still iffy-area of the Convention Center, we walked through Kinship, Ziebold’s a la carte version of MĂ©tier. It’s on the street level. We were directed to a “secret” elevator that brought us to the basement floor where MĂ©tier is located and where our friends were waiting. We had hand-crafted drinks, like The American Quarter, which seems to be a version of our favorite Vieux CarrĂ©. It has the perfect mix of Ambler Bourbon, Nardini Amaro Bassano, Gran Classico, Cointreau and Orange Bitters. The taste of their appetizer with the lemon verbena granita in a fresh herb consumĂ© served in Japanese tea cups was the most interesting flavors to simulate the Chef’s version of summer. It was perfect on a hot day and that happened to be the last official day of summer. This was all served in the front salon, an intimate French Chateau looking room that could have been someone’s home.

salon_metier_Art Is Everywhere

We had our drinks and appetizers right here.

The dinner with wine pairings was exceptional. I just wish I could remember exactly what it was because they’ve changed their summer menu to fall and it’s no longer available on the website. [Be sure to read the Menu Stories about the chef’s inspirations.]

dining room_metier on Art Is Everywhere

We ate at the table in the front lower right corner

Our server asked us if we wanted to be surprised with the chef’s pics? We all agreed, however, I commented, “as long as it didn’t have sea urchin because the last time I had it at Restaurant Eve it was over the top and unpleasant.” The server said there was one dish that did have sea urchin but it was not the main ingredient and I said let’s go for it. Well, it was my favorite dish!

Fletan at Metier_Art Is Everywhere

I think this is the sea urchin! It’s mixed in the risotto and foam.

We have a history with Eric Ziebold’s interpretation of food. CityZen, which was in the Mandarin Hotel, is where we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. It has since closed, but I remember the experience. We had our private dining alcove, the food was superb as was the service and I couldn’t believe Radiohead was playing in the background, which just added to it being one of the best meals, with the only exception being the sea urchin, which coincidentally, I had forgotten that we also had that evening. What is it with chef’s and sea urchin? This time it was perfected. Funny, when the chef came to visit our table, I’m glad I didn’t have this particular recall detail, only that we had a wonderful meal at CityZen and proceeded to thank him for such a wonderful meal at MĂ©tier.

I had heard about Ziebold’s new restaurants but it’s rare when Peter and I get such incredible opportunities to experience. Our friend, Adele, had been calling for months. We are lucky for having been the ones chosen to attend. After I broke out the old-fashioned stationary to write our friends a thank you note, which was certainly the very least we could do to express our gratitude, I read this article, The $1,000 Date Night: Had D.C.’s Tasting-Menu Culture Hit a Tipping Point?, about the value meeting the cost of the expensive fine-dining experience. Other restaurants in DC are also testing this market. Ziebold is smart in having two restaurants that offer similar fare but different experiences. You really do get what you pay for.

We were even given the staff’s hand-written thank you note and a bottle each of their home-made vinaigrette with herbs from local farms. We’re going to have to have some friends over to use and celebrate ourselves.

metier-vinagrette_basil-bounty_aie

MĂ©tier Vinaigrette and our roof-top basil bounty. This only a small sampling. We have to make pesto this weekend!

I tried my hand recently at a home-made roasted beet salad. Not bad but I couldn’t compare with the above. Coincidentally, I learned two unexpected things in the process: 1) I didn’t know you could roast beets. I’m so used to steaming them. Roasting only took 15 minutes at 420 degrees and I tossed with mustard ginger and oil, so you can add other flavors. 2) If you freeze the beets, they don’t dye your hands red when handling. I learned this quite by accident. Our fridge temperature needs to be adjusted now that it’s no longer hot outside and consequently, many items inside froze a bit; the beets being some.

Next on the list is making pesto cubes with all the tons of basil from our roof-top garden.

roasted-beet-salad on Art Is Everywhere

Roasted Ginger-Mustard Beet Salad with Cheese and home-made spicy dill dressing dribbled with honey. This recipe was from the newspaper Food Section, so I can’t take credit for the concoction only the substitutes, of which there were many.)

 

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What the Doctor Ordered

A RHode Island Getaway

Now that I’m better and coming off my sick-leave, I had an opportunity to travel for an impromptu getaway to Rhode Island to visit family. It seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. It also seems like I’m not ready to give up the beach combing yet — just because it’s no longer summer.

It was right after the big marketing push for announcing new designs so I knew there would still be some work to do but I relished the opportunity to relax. We had Hurricane Matthew that is brewing in the tropics on our tail. We survived a harrowing drive all night in the rain where people were using their hazards because it was so difficult to see and trucks were spaying us with tire-mist and constantly coming in our lane.

Fortunately, my husband did all the driving and made reservations at a boutique hotel in Connecticut, just outside of New York City, right off the Merritt Parkway. This meant we only had 3 more hours to drive to RI and hopefully the morning would be better.

Don’t let the name or stark location fool you but the Hi-Ho is a pretty cool place, boutique indeed with its 70’s retro styling and Andy Warhol prints and Palomino pillows in the bedrooms. Old-fashioned phones and red high-top tables set the contemporary breakfast room decor. We had one of the best continental breakfasts with one of the staff making sure everything was fresh and filled and greeting all the guests warmly.

Hi-Ho Hotel on Art Is Everywhere Hi-Ho Hotel bedroom on Art Is Everywhere

hi-ho-bathroom-feature-wall_on Art Is Everywhere

Like this one wallpapered feature wall.

There was an interesting Barcelona wine bar/ restaurant to try that was attached to the hotel but we weren’t staying for dinner. We’ll have to go back! As it turns out, I believe this  is a chain restaurant and each location may make their own unique adaptations. At least when we want our Spanish-fare fix, we can go a little closer to us in Reston, VA, but may not be as good. The one at the Hi-Ho has cabanas and their own vegetable garden and their award-winning food looks exceptional. Another reason to go back. In fact, this may be our regular pit-stop on our way to RI. I’m glad we discovered it!

hi-ho-barcelona restaurant on Art Is Everywhere

Beach + Food + Family

We weren’t expecting the weather in RI to be in the 50’s! We mostly brought short-sleeved tops but layering with sweaters and jackets kept us warm while we attempted to catch fish in the surf. Although our luck wasn’t good, the striped bass were biting as others were more lucky catching them on the beach (and throwing them back).

We tried some new places for food, like 210 Oyster Bar & Grill as well as some old favorites, like Haversham Restaurant & Tavern right off Post Road (road to the beaches).

two-ten-oyster-bar_AIE

210-oyster-bar-inside on AIE

Where we ate inside overlooking Salt Pond

210-oyster-bar-aerial on Art Is Everywhere

210-oyster-bar-outside-front on Art Is Everywhere

Front “tiki” bar to try in the summer

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Clam Cakes!

haversham-restaurant-exterior_aie

“The Sham” as locals affectionately call it

haversham-restaurant-interior_aie haversham-about_aie

We were happy to have clam cakes in the off-season and see Green Hill in a peaceful state as all the transplanted vacationers had mostly packed up for the summer and had gone back to their other New England homes. The residents, however, and those who have long-time connections to the area were enjoying the calm. Everyone was friendly and was waving hello as almost a code that suggested we all have something in common for being here.

Here are some of the photos from our trip. Our (left) side of the beach had all the sand this time but this will change as the currents shifts from year to year.

Our sandy left side of Green Hill beach_AIE

Our sandy left side of the beach

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The other — rocky and seaweed right side. Our beach usually looks like this.

Notice this change as you turn the corner on AIE

You notice this change as you turn the corner. (Photo Credit – The Rev. Peter Spencer)

Algae covered rocks on AIE

Algae covered rocks (at low tide) harbor lots of wildlife

mussels-and-snails on Art Is Everywhere

Mussels and Snails

One of our favorite days was the very last, when we spent time walking in the Trustom Pond Wildlife Refuge. It’s right next door to these beach properties, which is wonderful that is protected from being developed and serves as a safe haven for many wildlife. In the summer, a big part of the beach is closed off in an attempt to protect the nesting grounds of the piping plover.

Trustom Pond on Art Is Everywhere

Right as we started walking on the first path by the field that leads you to the pond, we saw a bobcat — first time! Initially we thought it was a dog. It was sitting on the path looking at something (probably for dinner) in the clearing. Another couple coming our way walked around the corner and scared it but didn’t even realize it was a bobcat. They thought the strap on our binoculars was a leash and therein the bobcat was a dog. It simply turned around and walked into the woods. It was not very afraid but we picked up a large stick as we continued on our way.

One of our favorite spots walking back is the lily pad pod. This is where Peter caught a bullfrog and pretended to kiss it when our boys were younger. They were grossed out!

lily-pad-pond on Art Is Everywhere

Frogs are everywhere on AIE

Frogs are everywhere you look

Frogs are everywhere 2 on Art Is Everwhere

This time, we saw a beaver!

See the beaver in trustom pond on AIE

See the beaver?!

The pictures reflect for me the magic a much-needed break can bring. Getting back to Nature, sharing meals and the importance of spending quality time with family all leave lasting, life-sustaining memories.

Beautiful Skylit Boulders on Art Is Everwhere

Beautiful Skylit Boulders

Pear cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden to share on AIE

We shared our pear-shaped cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden.

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on window on AIE

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on the beach house window

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