Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Balint Zsako

More art with things floating on white backgrounds! Today it's the brilliant and bizarre drawings of Balint Zsako that are inspiring and exciting me. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jenny Kendler

Lately I haven't been able to draw anything that isn't basically an object or person or group of objects and people floating in a background. (I mean, okay, so I've drawn some other things -- like, objects and people inside fleshed out interiors or landscapes and other physical spaces, besides the white of the page. But they sucked.) I'm trying to not frame this as a problem, just a fact: right now, the only good drawings I am making are of things that are floating in space. 

One of the explanations/excuses I come up with when I'm thinking of it as a problem is that sometimes I get stuck thinking verbally. Ideally, I'd only be creating images that can only be expressed as images, and not words. The issue comes that when I try to think about them, words get in the way. So even if I have a particular image of a particular bird, as soon as I think "I'm drawing a picture of a bird," it might as well be a white piece of paper with the word "BIRD" floating in the middle. By the time I get to drawing it, I'm just replacing the word "bird" with an image of a bird, instead of creating an entire image on the entire plane. (In fact! The "bird" tag on my art blog reveals many drawings demonstrating this exact scenario.)

But maybe this isn't a bad thing. This is why I'm enjoying Jenny Kendler's work so much right now! Amazing line work and images, and my favorites all involve objects and people and animals that are just floating. And it works and it's fantastic and powerful. 

She actually does a lot of different types of work, and it's all gorgeous. There's more on my tumblr Jenny Kendler tag. This might also explain part of what attracts me so much to the work of Anu Tuominen, Ed Young, and even some of these photographs of book art

Sunday, July 25, 2010

my neighbor totoro animated gifs, part two

Some of you may be wondering, was another post about My Neighbor Totoro aniamted gifs really necessary? The answer is yes. Yes it is. In fact, as I continue to find awesome gifs, I will continue to post them here. "But," you say. "You even did another post that included four four's Ponyo animated gifs." Do I look like I think that makes this AMAZING CATBUS ANIMATION ANY LESS AWESOME? It is an animated gif. Of a catbus. It will run forever.

The first gif of Totoro with Mei is via glasspoppy on tumblr; Catbus gif is via and-b on tumblr; the Studio Ghibli intro gif is via podam on tumblr, though when I was trying to find credit I found that it was also on the lovegifs tumblr; the second gif of Totoro with Mei and the one of Satsuki gathering twigs are both from the lovegifs tumblr as well. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Laura Battle

I just finished a fun web design project, making a website for Laura Battle, who I had as a painting and drawing professor at Bard. She's an amazing professor and artist and person, it was really delightful to get to work with her on this site. 

The gallery is built using zenphoto, which is currently my favorite script for a gallery CMS. Just simple and beautiful and straightforward to customize. (I also really like gallery and plogger). 

Going Forth by Night, 117" x 22", ink, 2009

Seventh Hour, 18x103", ink, 2009

 Crossing, 22x30", graphite on grey paper, 2007

Time piece, 22x30", graphite on grey paper, 2007 

 Love Letter, etching, 24x36", edition of 20, 2009-10 

Monday, July 19, 2010

green rice! rice cooked with an abundance of green things: spinach, parsley, chiles, leeks, and dill

This is another recipe I modified from one by Deborah Madison -- actually from two by Deborah Madison, both of which are called "green rice." One's in The Savory Way, the other from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. And they're really, really different! And neither is vegan, and each is not vegan in different ways. So here's my version.

2 or 3 handfuls of spinach leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch chopped parsley
3 poblano chiles
3 medium leeks, white parts plus paler greens, chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped dill, or a 1 tsp ground dill
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups water
2 tbsp lemon juice or to taste
2 or 3 scallions, sliced, for garnish (optional) 
black pepper to taste

Char the chiles over a flame, then drop them into a plastic bag to steam for 15 minutes. Pull out the seeds and chop into 1/2-inch pieces.

Wash and cut everything else as suggested. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan; add the spinach, parsley, chiles, leeks, and herbs, and salt to taste and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice and cook for several more minutes, until the grains of rice begin to turn clear and golden. Add the water, bring it to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice if using and stir it into the rice with a fork. Add pepper to taste and scallions if using. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

trip to museums in houston

I got this picture from a google search that wound up here, the rest are from the respective museum websites

I recently went down to Houston to see the museums there before I leave Texas. The Menil Collection (above and below) was my favorite. The collection, the layout, the architecture, even the location, were  all considered and related. I love museums that feel relaxed, and the spacious, light-filled building did just that. 

The whole collection was amazing and beautifully curated, but my favorite was the surrealism collection. Pictured above left is Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision, a "room of wonders." From their site: the room "displays the types of exotic curiosities that captivated and inspired these artists. The 200 objects on view range from ceremonial costumes and masks to bird specimens, surgical tools, astronomical instruments, and fetish figures." This room has everything from a necklace made out of colorful, iridescent dead birds, to a dildo made out of a rock, to a bizarre leather costume covered in nails. 

Pictured above right is my favorite piece in the contemporary collection, Robert Gober's Untitled, made of beeswax and human hair. It's just sitting on a white podium, doing its thing. 

I also enjoyed the Cy Twombly gallery, a part of the Menil collection in another building. My favorite was the text-like, chalkboard-like room of paintings above left. 

I'm glad I visited the Rothko Chapel too, though it wasn't exactly a museum, or part of a museum experience. I wish I'd gone there in a mindset to meditate, or had a chapel just like it in my neighborhood to go to and meditate whenever I wanted, because it's perfect for that. For looking at the 9 paintings there, it was simply from a different world than the museums I'd been visiting, so it was almost hard to register them as paintings. I think I appreciated them as paintings, and I definitely loved them as means for creating a spiritual/meditative space.  

I also visited the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, which is very small but worth it if only to see a modern reconstruction of a 13th century Byzantine dome and apse built inside of a concrete room. Stopped by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as well, and was not impressed, especially after the gorgeous Menil collection.

We're already planning another weekend Texas art expedition. I just learned about this amazing-sounding exhibit of children's book illustration at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature in Abilene, TX. There are originals by Trina Schart Hyman and Jerry Pinkney! I'm so excited to make a ton of pasta salad, load up the car with snacks and my ipod with audiobooks, and see it. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

gorgeous book of frida kahlo fakes (Finding Frida Kahlo)

Today I happened on a copy of this beautiful book, Finding Frida Kahlo, which purports to be a collection of ephemera belonging to Frida including trunks, suitcases, recipes, letters, and journals, as well as some exquisite stuffed hummingbirds, some pistols, and a Mexican flag. The photographs are like curio-box alternate-reality versions of Kahlo's paintings or diary. I didn't look at it long, since it was expensive and I wasn't really out shopping for books. When I got home I looked it up, originally hoping that there just happened to be a used copy for sale somewhere online for under $10, and/or to rifle the google books preview for images. Turns out the items are fakes. 

Even just seeing the slideshow on the NY Times article about it, the differences in style and handwriting are pretty apparent. Once it's pointed out that basically every object in the book is signed with her name or initials, that these signatures don't look much like how she signed her work, and that she actually didn't even sign things that often (let alone constantly) it seems obvious, especially considering the author said she didn't want to go through getting the items professionally verified since "that could take years" and she was eager to publish quickly. (Not to mention that the foremost Kahlo scholars all agree that they're fakes.)  

A bit from this Andrew Purcell article about it that I think is hilarious:
“The content is being manufactured, working backwards from known biographical details,” she [New York dealer Mary-Anne Martin] says. “The entry about ‘being bisexual’ is not even spelled correctly. Also, in the 1940s, bisexual meant hermaphrodite. We don’t think the term existed when these diaries were supposedly written. They’re full of funny mistakes like that.”
I wish I could've found more images on the web. There were these strange anatomical sketches, plus a weird book of anatomy that had been drawn over, and some pages of just text that were beautiful just as handwriting and images. I was looking at the book completely uncritically at the time, so I was just vaguely interested and surprised in all of the drawings of genitalia, and wondered how they fit into the little I know about Kahlo's life. But in retrospect, a lot of the images had a very contemporary look to them. 

The author and collectors maintain that this collection would be interesting even if the objects didn't belong to Frida Kahlo. And they would! They're gorgeous, and the photographs are really lush and well-styled. It's just obviously wrong to put Frida's name on them to sell museum tickets and books. I for one would probably buy the book anyway -- if I had $50 to spend on a coffee table book, which I do not. (And if I did, rather than support this silly fraud, I would save half my money and buy Sibella Court's Etcetera instead, a book of beautifully styled ephemera that doesn't claim to be anything else!) Hell, they could've even put Frida's name on it without claiming that she produced all of these things. I mean, I'm interested in these items visually, and I'm also interested in the story of them being fakes. I want a book about that! Where did these beautiful objects come from? Are antique dealers in Mexico selling anything that looks over 40 years old to Americans by claiming that it once belonged to Frida Kahlo? What if a couple of them are authentic? Which people honestly think these are real, or just want to believe that they are, and which people are just cynically copying early photos of Frida Kahlo holding some severed limbs? Did some of them actually belong to her, like how Andre Breton and other surrealists collected Oceanic art, taxidermy animals, and just weird stuff they thought was cool? What kinds of narratives are being created about Frida by these objects and by the people who try to pass them off as real? Now that would be an interesting book. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

vegan cardamom cashew shortbread cookies

Y'know what's really hard to photograph in an appetizing way? Things that are beige! Even delicious beige things, like these cardamom cookies! Eek. I made these over a week ago now and I'm just getting around to getting these pictures together. 

Anyway, these, like I said, are delicious. They're hardy and creamy and you should go bake some and dunk them in soy milk and eat them. I've been munching on these all week for breakfast and dessert and snacks. Also, they can be cut into exciting shapes! If you have cookie cutters on hand, don't wait until winter, break them out for these shortbread cookies. 


1 cup earth balance, softened 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1 cup ground cashews 
2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tsp cardamom powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 F. 

Cream together earth balance and sugar. Add nuts, mix well. 

Sift in remaining ingredients. When mixing with a spoon stops working, mix with your fingers. It will be crumbly. Don't refrigerate before rolling, unless you have time to return to room temperature first. Keep working at the dough until it becomes cohesive and smooth. 

Roll. Add extra flour a tablespoon at a time, as needed, to prevent sticking. Try to be patient, and keep rolling. (Then roll some more.) Roll until the dough is smooth and consistently about 1/4 inch thick. 

Cut into shapes! I chose diamonds. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake 8-10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen delicious diamonds. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

simple & quick meal: rice noodles with tofu, scallions, and sesame seeds

This dish fed me through finals when I'd gone 3 days in a row living on nothing but pasta and cereal. It's fast, satisfying, and fun to vary depending on what's on hand. And it's not pasta or cereal, so it has that going for it. 

For example, with the scallions, tofu, and sesame seeds, this is actually a complete meal (which is why I tried to eat it when I got in a finals-and-pasta rut), but if you're in a hurry, just the noodles and the sauce are delicious on their own. Or, if you add sugar, the whole thing makes an amazing cold salad -- in the past I've made variations on this salad to carry around on weekend and road trips. The sauce also works great as a tofu marinade, for more salads or to bake for a dish with less oil. 

This recipe is approximate, based on proportions. The quantities are based on what I would make to serve 2 people (I think noodles plus 1 pound of tofu serves 2 people if this is pretty much all they're eating.) 


Basic Sauce: 
2 tbsp soy sauce 
2 tbsp sesame oil 
2 tbsp rice vinegar
(1 tsp sugar, if serving cold) 

Sauce with variations: 
2 tbsp soy sauce 
2 tbsp sesame oil 
2 tbsp rice vinegar
(1 tsp sugar, if serving cold)
1 tbsp black bean paste 
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp white pepper 

Everything else: 
rice noodles to serve 2 
1 lb firm tofu, drained and pressed 
2 tsp red pepper flakes 
peanut oil for frying the tofu 
sesame seeds for garnish 
2 or 3 thinly sliced scallions for garnish 

Drain and press the tofu as far ahead as possible. Cook the rice noodles to packet instructions. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Cube the tofu. Begin heating the peanut oil in a heavy skillet or wok. Fry the red pepper flakes until they sizzle, then add the tofu. Wait for a crust to form on the bottom face, then stir. Repeat until every face of the tofu cubes has some texture and are coated with the pepper flakes. 

Drain the noodles and toss with the sauce. Top with the fried tofu, sesame seeds, and sliced scallions. Serve hot or chilled. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

thoughts on 500 Vegan Recipes

This isn't a book review, this is just, like the title says, my thoughts on this recipe book. First thought: YAY! This book is everything I hoped it would be. (More info on it here.) For one thing, it contains 500 recipes that are vegan. And loving have cake, will travel is a good indicator toward loving this book. It's fun to read. It's fun to make the food in it. It's fun to eat the food in it!

There was this moment where I was first paging through the recipes, and accidentally skipped the first breakfast section, so I was only in the muffin section, and, okay, I don't like muffins. (Many people have tried to convince me that I like muffins. I also don't like cake or cupcakes or brownies or other cake-like foods. It seems a lot like bread that has something wrong with it. The fact that I like banana bread is what makes some people think I am simply biased against muffins and would really like them if I bothered to try. I keep trying; muffins are not for me.) So I was dismayed. I was like, why is this breakfast section all muffins?! 

Then I found the actual breakfast section (or the rest of it -- for now I'm just going to keep pretending there are no muffins). Smoothies with oats in them? Banana fritters? Pumpkin tofu scramble? Zucchini fritters? Maple hickory tofu strips? I am so there. I've been making banana fritters and zucchini fritters for breakfast all week. I also made the lentil tart and it was amazing, and I'm pretty sure my time making the tahini crust for it is the only time I have ever, ever, followed a pie crust recipe as written and it made the amount of pie crust it suggested it would. 

This is what really sold me on the book though: deviled "egg" salad. I'm pretty sure deviled eggs are the only non-vegan food I miss. I see them at dinner parties (for some reason, they always appear at dinner parties!) and it's difficult. Also it's actually been so long since I've eaten eggs that the actual smell of actual eggs is gross, and kind of rotten-seeming, so when I actually get near enough to real deviled eggs to contemplate them, I get queasy. (This does have the advantage of making it easier to avoid ingesting eggs.) Okay, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Basically, deviled eggs are great, and the ones made out of tofu in this recipe are even greater, because they're delicious and animal-free. Hooray! 

Other recipes I can't wait to try: spinach quiche; basically all of the seitan sausages; mushroom lasagna; white pizza; open sesame cookies; peppermint bark; and baked chocolate almond pudding. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rie Nakajima

Not sure I have this artist's name correct... here's the artist's site. Anyway, I love the use of material, negative space, and patterning.

(Note: I've fixed the link to the artist's site, which seems to have moved since I first wrote this post. It should be correct now! Except there's no work like this on the site? I'm confused! This is definitely the name I first saw associated with this content, and if you do a google search on it, you get similar work, as well as images from this post...not sure what's up.)

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