Saturday, December 26, 2015

Is it art or is it fashion?

On a visit to the High museum of Art in Atlanta we pondered several questions. Approaching the museum there were pieces of sod patching in circular shapes.
We puzzled, was it an art installation or just repairs to the grass?
We moved on to the first exhibit, the work of Iris Van Herpen. She is an avant garde designer who works with traditional and non-traditional materials.

We were amazed and impressed with her work. Is it art? Yes. She shows vision, persistence and massive creativity. Is it fashion? That's a harder question. While she makes objects to wear, they are limited to customers who don't need to sit or use there arms. Who, besides Bjork, would wear these items?
We moved on to another exhibit about the Habsburgs, fashion and style from earlier centuries.
It made me wonder why we questioned the outrageous style of Iris Van Herpen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My New Friend Flounder

Walking along the beach in the Outer banks, the shell pickings are pretty slim.  The surf is just too rough, and a whole clam shell can seem like a prize.  While running on the beach, a mostly intact conch shell appeared before me, but before I could grab it, a wave took it away.  The next wave set it between my feet, so I considered it a gift from the ocean.  It was the best shell I saw on the beach all week.

On another walk, I came upon this guy:
 A flounder lying in the tide line.  When I leaned over I could see his he was alive, his mouth moved and his side rose and fell.  I slipped my hand under him to pick him up but he flipped away from me.  So I slipped both hands under him to propel him to the incoming wave.  Success!

Nope.  He was back on the sand in front of me.  This time when I picked him up he didn't offer resistance. I flung him into the wave, and back he came again.  Hmmm, maybe he just wants to die.

But, I thought, wouldn't he rather die in the water instead of gasping for breath on land?   "Sorry Buddy, you are just too cute not to take your picture."  I took his photo as he stared at me with his two green eyes, moving his fish lips.  Then I lifted him, waded into the water and flung him past the surf.  He didn't return.

Success! What a good deed, I congratulated myself as I walked back down the beach.  But then, feelings of self doubt came over me. Maybe he was an enchanted human that was turned into a fish and his last wish was to die on dry land. Maybe I had just screwed everything up.  Maybe I had just lost my chance to be granted three wishes.

"Maybe you were supposed to kiss him," my friend Jon said.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Farewell to Scoby

 A co-worker pressed a starter batch of Kombucha on me after I expressed casual interest in making the fermented concoction.  Kombucha, a fermented tea, had appealed to my mad scientist side. I consider myself an adventurous cook, creative, and maybe a little reckless.  (Like, for instance, the time I cut up a pepper for a salad without tasting it and made the hottest salad of my life.)

There I was with a jar of some strange circular mold that I thought of as the "mother", but I would learn was the SCOBY.  My colleague had given me some instructions, and I had watched a bunch of videos about the methods of making Kombucha, all of them narrated by fanatics.  I quickly ascertained that making Kombucha might involve a little more precision than I was willing to commit.

I considered bailing altogether, but decided at the last minute that I should at least make an attempt on the recipe, perhaps I could just wing it.  I'll just cut to the chase and tell you that my batch was a total failure.  One sip made the acid in my stomach rise like the tide.

The menace.
When my work colleague asked how it turned out, I had to admit that it was a failure, I was going to have to throw it out.  "No don't get rid of it, it makes a great cleaning product."  Well, that wasn't really my intention, it was time for my brief Kombucha career to end.

I left the Scoby in a jar in my fridge, as well as a small jar of "juice".  As the jar sat there, the Scoby continued to grow. Even the juice jar grew a small "oyster" of Scoby.  The longer it stayed in the fridge, the bigger it became. I would know someone rummaging through the fridge had uncovered it when they would pause and then exclaim in horror, "What the hell is in this jar?"

I started to become a little afraid  of it. How was I going to get rid of it? I imagined it exploding out of the jar and gnawing on a forgotten cauliflower behind a carton of orange juice.  Or what if I added it to the compost pile and instead of assisting with the biological breakdown of the pile it instead fermented into some new form of intelligent life?

 I chose to ignore it for four or five months.

Shortly before burial.
Then, one trash day right before we were to leave town for a week, I decided it had to go.  I poured the liquid off the Scoby and slid it into a plastic bag which I slammed into the trash can.  Our county incinerates its trash, so hopefully the Scoby died by fire before it could consume any other organic material. As for the jar of juice, I decided to use it's cleaning properties to cleanse my garbage disposal.

 It has been working great ever since.
Future drain cleaner.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Baltimore Museum of Art, hon

Nick Cave Soundsuit
What makes the Baltimore Museum of Art
 different from other art museums? It's the chatty security guards.

"Do you think this statue is a man or a woman?"
"You have a lot of hair."
"You should smile."
"Didn't you already come this way?"
"I love your hair."
"You know it takes more muscles to frown that it does to smile."

Okay, I was frowning at this desiccated and reconstructed orange by Zoe Leonard. I mean, this has got to be a conservators nightmare.

 The museum houses have some great iconic artwork, like this Cezanne.

 They also have one of the largest collections of Matisse, thanks to the Cone sisters.

 And this one comes with my favorite overheard comment of the day.  " If I was to get sucked into a painting, I'd want it to be this one because I would have a companion."