Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Life is a State of Mind

  IN PROGRESS   Being There

     Seeing this title, I cannot but think of Peer Seller's astounding sardonic  performance in the film, directed by Hal Ashby.1979   And, too, the film's concluding message: "Life is a state of mind." 
    So, I believe that it is more than serendipitous this past Sunday that Alex Williams wrote "Being There: To Live the Moment or Record It has Become a Defining Dilemma of the iPhone age." [NYTimes, Sunday Styles, September 28, 2014, pp.1, 8], and his concern is people's distraction by hundreds of words and images from elsewhere, reducing or even smothering their awareness (especially young people's and, most especially, car drivers) or cognizance of surroundings:

But even as public gatherings, from the world-historical to the intimate, evolve into a sea of glowing blue screens, a backlash has started to take root. An improbable assortment of critics — mindfulness gurus, twee indie rockers, even, seemingly, Pope Francis — have started to implore these armchair videographers to drop their phones and actually start living again.
   To live the moment or record the moment? It’s become a defining dilemma of the iPhone age.

Full, personalatenton at such events as weddngs and especially funerals where ussing he phibne uisconsidered rude and gauche and tacky

     Last week, my eye caught an article in the New York Times about the need to acquaint our generations with real farm life, especially the smaller, private  farms. The staple in outdoor museums, often called "living history farms," is a bonneted maid churning butter, or women cooking at a fireplace, the burly blacksmith, or men bringing in "freshly-killed game."

     What would visitors learn?  Some stereotyped glimpses of history: Old timey music and dances (often using contemporary instruments), log cabins, so neatly landscaped and perfumed that one can hardly imagine it as a dwelling inhabited by people and animals with neither plumbing nor electricity, a village so cut off from urban centers that news of scientific, political, and social issues are long-delayed.

If settlers in 1836 Indiana combed flax for linen garments, how should we pay attention to our garments today? Or our current overwhelming notion of "style"? And why?

     Then came another memory, a cogent conversation in my museum office with a colleague from DesMoines, folklore professor Jay Anderson (living history museum specialist, photo archivist and scholar), during which the idea emerged  that museum planners should consider "shrink-wrapping" a 1970s home and preserve it as a museum artifact. Imagine: tricycles, toothbrushes, plastic dinnerware, TV trays a hoola-hoop, a push lawnmower, pink tile in the kitchen, and an Amana Stor-More freezer.
Think ranch style-house.

My grandchildren seldom scan the landscape while heir parents drive across the land.  Heads down, too busy with digital games. They never glimpse or think about a farm or that cluster that Robert Venturi (a Quaker designer and architectural critic, born in Philadelphia, 1925,and Pritzker Prize winner in 1991} called 

But even as public gatherings, from the world-historical to the intimate, evolve into a sea of glowing blue screens, a backlash has started to take root. An improbable assortment of critics — mindfulness gurus, twee indie rockers, even, seemingly, Pope Francis — have started to implore these armchair videographers to drop their phones and actually start living again.
To live the moment or record the moment? It’s become a defining dilemma of the iPhone age.

inclusive acceptance and undersanding urbn and sub urban enivroments as inclusive, later, “Learning From Las Vegas,” (MIT Press, 1977)was one of the last of the big architectural manifestos and a heartfelt embrace of American popular culture that would be hard to imagine anyone attempting today.Thata culture can ber popular and alsomeaningful,academically interestusng,is not a new idea but few of ustanglewith it.

Though development housing has proliferated across the country, today's aesthetic does not adore one of that era's major home design, termed a ranch house. (sometimes denigrated as a "raunch house") .  But they were built at a specific time (post-war boom years) and for a fairly specific reason (to reflect the new "casual" life style presumably borrowed from he Southwest). Think bolo ties, step-down family rooms and swimming pools.

 Curiously, twenty-first century preservationist movements have begun in some ranch house neighborhoods, as well as renewed interest in the style from a younger generation who did not grow up in such confines.

First built in the 1920s, the ranch style was extremely popular with the booming post-war middle class of the 1940s to 1970s. The style is often associated with tract housing built at this time, particularly in the western United States, which experienced a population explosion during this period, with a corresponding demand for housing.

Now, suggesting that we putt a contemporary home under a scholar's spotlight is leads one to understand that the present is tomorrow's "history."  Just as a newspaper reader scanning headlines about a scientific break-though or the front-line soldier theoretically might having the time to reflect that he is,in fact, in the middle of history in the moment, or the teenager recovering from a deadly disease cured with the newest medication. Or an attorney buys a necktie for $80, knowing that this item is rapidly loosing its place in male haberdashery.

aneesocila enviroment for futue mueu goeers but also acceps tat what is NOW is also historicaly significant  L
 conrased to collecing xxx photos offarming histotry Jensen adn MUeum o Man and his dail btraad Such a step not only saves

In order to do so  one removes a "preferenc efor " objedcts (ie stil lifes of
gfood or Cole landscapes or eve Pollocck's gestural art Whit on Whiter goes beryond to a higherlevelof sensitivity

Well, that connects us to conversations that I have had numerous times with my check-out clerk at the grocery store. "What's this?" he asks, holding up brussels sprouts or majooli dates or a rutabaga or even the gentle parsnip. No problem with okra, though.

Malevich  (1878-1935)White on Whiter and other suprematist canvases  a newe freedom ,a supremacy of pure feeling, not from forms  since ithas atextural form infinite space rather than definite borders suggest a near-zero relianceon respreseenative art and color variaton, away from represantatio or figuration  a fnastep toward abstraction but also inclusiveness

 "desperate struggle to free art from the ballast of the objective world" by focusing only on pure form and pure color However, while the paintings found favour with intellectuals, they did not appeal to the general viewer and as a result Malevich lost official approval.[5] He was later persecuted by Stalin, who had an implicit mistrust of all modern art.

A camera set on a street crner, rrcordimng indiscrimantly ll actio no editing al incusive

OR, Imagine a camera unmoving, butfixed on a diner counter for 2 hours. Culd Micky
Rourke's performanced in"Diner" have been surpased? Only fr REAL realism a

 Geetz de-myholgi n of the Pilgrams of Mass a way to ralism oyom;u gopt janthropological fac but also to make us sensitive to faux cultural things like Turkey and overblown religious thot

LENZ mFGAZINE - MALLS AS BLIGHT VISUALLY UNSTIMULATING, DEPENDENT UPOMN CAR TRAFFIC  A DANGER TO PHYS ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN IMAGINATION  Where White on white reduces variety, the mall emphasizes both variety and sameness (tootermalls--a logicl aor at lest "learnable" lay out) 

KAZIMIR MALEVICH  (1878-1935) 1918 White on White


Malevich described his aesthetic theory, known as Suprematism, as "the supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts." He viewed the Russian Revolution as having paved the way for a new society in which materialism would eventually lead to spiritual freedom. This austere painting counts among the most radical paintings of its day, yet it is not impersonal; the trace of the artist's hand is visible in the texture of the paint and the subtle variations of white. The imprecise outlines of the asymmetrical square generate a feeling of infinite space rather than definite borders.

Related Publications

Jensen farm
 . In 1985, folklore professor Jay Anderson was hired as the director of the Farm, a position he held from 1985 to 1993. Dr. Anderson oversaw a newly created Master's degree program where he and graduate students collected historical information on such items as dress, foods, crops, livestock, etc. to make the farm more historically accurate. In the late 1990s, the Festival of the

The History of the Ronald V. Jensen Living Historical Farm and Man and His Bread Museum. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 1987

THE LENS carltocollege imdepend student magazine, 2013  superb student writng
.convenient scapegoat for all of the environmental and social problems of a car-dominated, suburban society.  Blogs such as DumpyStripMalls.com (practically a tour of the Twin Cities’ sections of I-94) illustrate the popular distaste for the model, cataloguing drab fast food restaurants and closed ice arenas with a connoisseur’s thoroughness.  Urban researchers defend these emotional musings with facts and theories on the blight strip malls bring to a community.  Their main grievance with strip malls lies in their dependence on automobile transportation.  If shoppers are coming and going to strip malls in their cars, they are not walking, socializing, and interacting with the community.  Furthermore, the abundance of cars aggravates traffic congestion and pollution.

So, to paraphrase Robert Venturi (qUAKER, B. pHILY 1925), one of the authors of the 1977 city-planning classic Learning From Las Vegas: If it's so baIn 1972, Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour published the folio, A Significance for A&P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas later revised in 1977 as Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form using the student work as a foil for new theory.

  The book they produced four years later, “Learning From Las Vegas,” (MIT Press, 1977)was one of the last of the big architectural manifestos and a heartfelt embrace of American popular culture that would be hard to imagine anyone attempting today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vatel, A 2000 Film About Food and Integrity in 18th Century France

Starring French actor, Gérard Depardieu.

This film offers a glimpse of was or might have been the cuisine of the court of Louis IX. The meals were extravagent spectacles, even called "miracles" when assigned to the talents of Vatel ,the Steward, the maitre d'hotel.  More than superbly grilled meats or poached seafood, there were illusionary displays and fireworks, all created though Vatel's talent and imagination, and power.. When his coveted services (i.e.talents) his whole being, are  casually "lost" in a royals' card game, he chooses an honorable departure rather than compromise his honor, staff and his responsibilities.

     Francois Vatel was born in Paris. He is widely but incorrectly credited with creating crème Chantilly (Chantilly cream), a sweet, vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, but there is no contemporary documentation for this claim, and whipped, flavored cream was known at least a century earlier.

Jun 20, 2013 - Uploaded by Filmfood Janneke
Food in Film: Vatel 2000 Starring Gérard Depardieu as the great 17th-century French chef, Francois Vatel.

    François Vatel (French pronunciation: ​[fʁɑ̃swa vatɛl]) (1631 – April 24, 1671) was the majordomo (in French, maître d'hôtel) of Nicolas Fouquet and prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condé.

     MonsieurVatel served Louis XIV's superintendent Nicolas Fouquet in the splendid inauguration fête at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte that took place on 17 August 1661, the occasion of Fouquet's downfall.
     Vatel was responsible for an extravagant banquet for 2,000 people hosted in honour of Louis XIV by Louis, the great Condé in April 1671 at the Château de Chantilly, where he died. According to a letter by Madame de Sévigné, Vatel was so distraught about the lateness of the seafood delivery and about other mishaps that he committed suicide by running himself through with a sword, and his body was discovered when someone came to tell him of the arrival of the fish carts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cheeses: Read all About 'Em! It's Still Summer

Clara Peeters, Still Life with Cheeses, Artichoke and Cherries,1625

                  Food in the Arts.com

food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit

   I have just fallen in love with three lovelies: Pinot Bianco, creamy blue cheese, and white peaches.  All of which bring me to some new cheese stories.

  Max Watman, The Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food (Norton, 2014)

Review by Daniel Boulud in New York Times Book Review (July 13, 2014):

“While I was growing up on our family farm near Lyon (France), I learned the importance of seasonal produce and fully utilized livestock at an early age. Max Watman’s witty and vivid accounts of producing farm-fresh products such as cheese and preserves in a modern world brings back fond memories and had me laughing throughout.”

Having spent part of my youth at my grandfather's farm in Dutchess County, New York, I share this enthusiasm for the sight, smell and taste of fresh, out-of-the ground or off-the-tree produce. No cheeses, alas, but green beans and heirloom tomatoes (uncooked, but we didn't know about basil and olive oil), small new potatoes, rubbed clean on my bib overalls and chomped, raspberries and "blackcaps" and currents plucked from a sunny vine, and peaches and plums so ripe that they were ready to drop from the leafy branches. Very, very few people today know that sublime experience. Maybe that's why we see only styrofoam fruit and apples so hard that they qualify as lethal weapons.

I fear that my generation may be the last to create our meals with 1940s sensibilities. 

And that is but one reason why your summer reading will be wonderful when paired with the more intense drama of traditional Castilian (Spanish) artisan cheese-making (sheeps' milk) in Michael Paterniti's The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese (Dial Press, 2013). There is much poetic language about the perfection of cheese, the fulfilling connection of man and his fields, and the wisdom and satisfaction of growing food in the old ways.

Still LIfe with Bread, Ham, Cheese (1772) 
Luis Egidio Melendez (Spanish, b.Naples 1716-1780)

Quote:  For Ambrosio, cheesemaking was both beautiful and primal: the milking and hauling, the pouring and harping, the careful progression of heating that depended on the right flame, all of it down to the work of one's calloused hands, leading after a number of months to some unknown destination, some new birth, some revelation rising out of the physical.  It was an act of faith, really (p. 60).

Sheep graze in Spain's Meseta region, a place of sever weather, summer or winter.

But we find here, too, a hefty slice of Spanish political history and small-village sociology, meticulously footnoted. It all fits together, as it should, to make a grand tale (See An American Man's Quest to Become an Old Castilian - www.nytimes.com/.../a-middle-aged-mans-quest-to-b).

Curiously, or perhaps not, all three tales present a hero/heroine of a small enterprise which is threatened with corporate sameness, defeat and disaster.

And to complete your summer reading scene, mix yourself a 'Bella Fresher (invented by my son-in-law and named after my granddaughter Anabelle Ash Miguelucci-Moore. How's that for personal disclosure? (2 oz vodka, muddle: sweet basil, several chunks of fresh white peaches, a dash of sugar/simple syrup, and top with a bit of ginger ale (preferably Blenheim's). One could add a leaf or two of lemon verbena, as well.

Okay, if you're not up to purchase new books, check the library for Sherri Holman's charming romance about a heroin's cheese (Jersey cows' milk) life in a small town, Three Chimneys, Virginia, The Mammoth Cheese (Grove Press, 2003). 

Margaret Pricket, a single mother and specialty cheese-maker, considers a plan for her business to survive. She takes the advice and help of a preacher (actually, several clergymen) to do a publicity stunt, to re-create the original Thomas Jefferson era 1,235 pound "Mammoth  Cheese" as a gift for the president.

And from the Danish community in Minneapolis, MN, I learned this: for a sensational cheeseburger, smear a goodly amount of blue cheese on the meat mid-way through the grilling [See The Minnesota Ethnic Food Book, 1986].

 Finally, to complete the picture, order a  cheese-friendly T-shirt from Murray's Cheese - www.murray'scheese.com

Friday, July 11, 2014

Artists' KItchens and Community Outreach

Another Charlotte non-profit is King's Kitchen in the classy Uptown neighborhood.
"Second Helping", located in the colorful Central Avenue-Plaza neighborhood specializes in taking in previously incarcerated women and guiding them into jobs in the hospitality field.
That's one supportive kind of outreach. Below are some famous experiments in community sharing that,at one time, catered to artists, gallery visitors, and students.

"Food" (a cooperative restaurant) as performance art opened by Gordon Matta-Clark in 1971.  His menu was simple and his customers, local artists and neighborhood folks, enjoyed it

"Food" a1972, 43 min, b&w, sound, 16 mm film on video

This film documents the legendary SoHo restaurant and artists' cooperative Food, which opened in 1971. Owned and operated by Caroline Goodden, Food was designed and built largely by Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978), who also organized art events and performances there. As a social space, meeting ground and ongoing art project for the emergent downtown artists' community, Food was a landmark that still resonates in the history and mythology of SoHo in the 1970s.

Camera and Sound: Robert Frank, Suzanne Harris, Gordon Matta-Clark, Danny Seymour. Editing: Roger Welch -- EAI

Gordon Matta-Clark (born Gordon Roberto Echaurren Matta; June 22, 1943- August 27, 1978) was an American artist best known for his site-specific artworks he made in the 1970s. He is famous for his "building cuts," a series of works in abandoned buildings in which he variously removed sections of floors, ceilings, and walls.

Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tobias Rehberger who designed the bookshop and cafe (below) respectively.According to art historian Rochelle Steiner, Tiravanija's work “is fundamentally about bringing people together.[8] The artist's installations of the early-1990s involved cooking meals for gallery-goers.[9] In one of his best-known series, begun with pad thai (1990) at the Paula Allen Gallery in New York, he rejected traditional art objects altogether and instead cooked and served food for exhibition visitors. (see below)[


 He recreated the installation in 2007 at the David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea using the original elements and renaming the work untitled (Free/Still)


All of this is the work of the artist Susan Cianciolo, a fashion designer, illustrator and creator of the Run collection, which has been exhibited in smart galleries and sold at Barney's New York. Most of her shows, like this one, are multimedia affairs combining installation, performance and music. Run Restaurant is her most interactive project so far.

With the help of family, friends and assistants (the director of Alleged, Aaron Rose, is her husband) the artist built the installation, which includes dining nooks with Japanese-style tables, a tepee of sheets for the retreat and a kitchen. The gift shop stocks stitched and knitted items that more or less define the Run aesthetic: Raku teaware, scrupulously maladroit. The water garden is a little circle of rocks and plants on the floor, the modest idea of a grand thing rather than an actual grand thing.

Playing seriously with the idea of grandish things is what gives Ms. Cianciolo's work its mildly utopian lift. Run Restaurant has a faint air of a Krishna Consciousness love feast circa 1968. It recalls those edifying facilities proposed by the Russian Constructivist avant-garde where peasant workers could eat and read Marx at the same time. It also suggests an entrepreneurial update on the 1990's hospitality-art of Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Finally, while Ms. Cianciola's clothes may be priced beyond proletarian reach, Run Restaurant is a genuine bargain with a $10 fixed-price vegetarian meal, plus beverage of choice and dessert; occasionally there is evening entertainment. (HOLLAND COTTER, NY Times)

   The short-lived Restaurant de la Galerie J (1963) in Paris was his first such venture, employing art-world waiters such as critic Pierre Restany and poet/critic John Ashbery. His best-known establishment, the popular Restaurant Spoerri in Dusseldoff, opened in 1968 and featured guest chefs such as artists Joseph Beuys and Antoni Miralda.

     Two years later, he added an Eat Art Gallery on the floor above. In 1977, he, Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, among others, set up a fetish museum and boutique in a Parisian kiosk where they displayed and sold items belonging to contemporary art personalities such as Christo, Cesar, Panamarenko and Meret Oppenheim. See Bechtler Museum, Charlotte, NC
     As a playfully entrepreneurial publisher, restaurateur and gallerist, Spoerri creatively exploited commercial transactions as a site for art.
Daniel Spoerri photographs food, especially messy tables and left-overs.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Food Books for Children's Bedtime: Read 'em or Tell'em

     Along with my favorite Old Black Witch (author Wende and illustrator Harry Devlin, first published in 1966 with superior pictures), I find these two books workable for kids. Based upon my own experiences, I still think that "told tales" (not read tales) are best and bring child and parent closer. A simple perusal of The Folktale Type Index will set you up with plots

Carol A. Losi, Amy Meissner, illustrator;
       Salt and Pepper at the Pike Street Market, West Winds Press, 2004
                                                                            Pike Street Market                                                                           

Adam Rex
      Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, Harcourt Inc, 2005

You might also be amused with The Charles Addam's Cookbook

Charles Addams' Half-Baked Cookbook: Culinary Cartoons for the Humorously Famished,Simon & Schuster, 2012