Sunday, August 21, 2016

En Route to Africa Part II: What Lies Ahead

As the dream gets closer and closer to fruition, romantic drawings continue to past my time-- in between speech practicing.
Black Portraiture [s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Cultures schedule is officially up.
Big names like Henry Louis Gates (host of PBS's Finding Your Roots), Misan Sagay (writer of Amma Asante's Belle), Julie Dash (writer/director Daughters of the Dust), artists Lyle Ashton Harris, Zanele Muholi, Alison Janae Hamilton, Rashaad Newsome, and others are attending and presenting. Panels entitled Imaging the Black Female Body, I dream in colour”: Imagining and dreaming as subversive postcolonial masquerading strategies in the visual artworks of South African women-of-colour visual artists Mary Sibande and Senzeni Marasela and Venus on my Back, Girls of Color, Inheritance and the Hottentot Venus Narrative are among primary interests. Post-conference receptions will be held at the renown Goodman Gallery and MOMO/MoCada. 
This is major.
Excitement has boiled. My GoFundMe has been fully funded. Everything is almost booked.
I made a couple of mistakes including debating whether to add an extra hotel day (my plane arrives in Johannesburg at 11:30PM on Tuesday evening though my hotel reservations are set for Wednesday), purchasing air shuttle service (why did I think this was complimentary), among countless random little preparations.
Hardest part seems over.

Dreamy, romantic pencil and watercolor sketches feature Yinka Shinobare inspired fabrics. These are a metaphor for my truest, deepest feelings within about this upcoming travel.
I would be lying if failing to mention doubt or fear brewing inside. November is around the corner, sneaking up on fragile piece of mind. I know my words are worthy. That they need to be heard. My drawings and paintings want to be seen by this audience, this audience that will surely carry me through the course of my future-- brimming in African/African American rooted study. That future burns hot with hopes of further pursuing educational hierarchy and other opportunities to present papers-- whether these papers are research based, creative writing, or poetry. I believe that this is the beginning of a rather profound journey. Why let discouragement rue my thoughts?
In the meantime, a few weeks ago, I had a ball as a guest feature on Stephanie Renee's MOJO-- a Philadelphia based morning-afternoon radio program on 900AM WURD. I discussed Black Portraiture [s], a brief reflection on my paper, and excitement over this upcoming experience with Stephanie, a phenomenal host who sounded just as enthusiastic. This was so great and fun-- a different way of interacting with radio DJ beyond trying to score concert tickets or a free CD. 
For now, I will continue practicing in the mirror. No faltering allowed.
Also, since I also have opportunity to attend panels (before they get booked), I plan to read over each listed and go on from there.....
Blogger Tricks

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ranch Macaroni Salad

I finally got my hands on Hampton Creek's new Ranch Salad Dressing. It has a superb homage to traditional rich, creamy flavor that a typical ranch offers. For my macaroni salad, I added colorful carrots, red onions, shreds of zucchini, and this amazing dressing.

Ranch Macaroni Salad Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup macaroni, cooked and chilled
1/2 cup rainbow carrots, steamed and chilled
1/2 cup zucchini, spiraled
1/4 cup red onion, chopped and diced
1/4 cup Just Mayo Ranch Dressing
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine ingredients together and refrigerate.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Recipe for Surprise Parties & Killer Peanut Butter Walnut Brownies

Good foods like Slice Pizza (they make vegan pie), unforgettable fresh homemade salsa, Whole Foods mild guacamole, tortilla chips, and this strawberry topped peanut butter chocolate brownie (by me) were great party fare. In the background is a pretty scrumptious looking vegan gluten-free Sweet Freedom Bakery cupcake gift. Yum!
This is more than a step by step process of preparing something in the kitchen.
This is a walk outside, a train journey, eleven floors up the elevator.
On a casual, seemingly innocent Tuesday evening, we the Visitor Services Staff of PAFA threw a little appreciation party for Matt-- our kind, sweet, cool as a cucumber supervisor. He works super hard and often can't spend time with us outside of museum life due to hectic schedules and whatnot.
It was high time to bring the party to him, to celebrate him, let him know we just appreciate.....
The idea escaped the mouth of one appreciative devotee and spread like a delightful communal virus. I say delightful because no sneezing, coughing, hiccuping or anything hazardous transpired between us. Nope. Just conspired a plot to celebrate a super amazing person.
Everyone was stoked-- wide-eyed and joyous over throwing a surprise shindig.

Just a few treasured words to describe Matt-- calm, peaceful, fabulous, stylish, eclectic, and creative are some other words I should have added. He's a terrific artist and phenomenal writer. I've spent many a time at PAFA's Arcadia Library reading his thesis.....
We had major trickery help from museum education department-- one of his besties and PAFA class of 2014 gal pal. She lured him up to the eleventh floor. We bombarded him with loud cheers and rambunctious clapping. It was such a sight, a wonder, to see him so happy and astonished at the same time. Of course, we had the same rowdy glee when the pizza arrived.

Most of the gang in present with Matt holding the Scrabble board of adjectives.
A huge thanks to another of my co-workers (fellow vegan alert) for co-conceiving this killer peanut butter brownie recipe. I knew that brownies would be involved, especially aince Matt liked the previous batch. There is no cocoa butter (used remainder for homemade lotion) and coconut oil was a big giant no-no.
I used Whole Foods Organic Peanut Butter-- the only ingredient is peanuts. Stored at room temperature, the peanut butter had a nice oily consistency mirroring melted oils or butters. It's not the same as subbing with applesauce, pumpkin, or a ripened avocado, but since the peanut butter flavor was desired that mattered not.
Overall, the surprise party was amazing. The pizza, these brownies, that salsa, my co-worker/friends....
We definitely celebrated in style.

Killer Peanut Butter Walnut Brownies Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond milk (or any dairy free alternative)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
1 package Driscoll's Strawberries, sliced (optional, but it gives the brownies lovelier presentation by covering fork marks of impatience)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8' x 8" baking pan.
Mix dry ingredients together.
Add in dairy free alternative milk and vanilla to dry ingredients. Stir evenly.
Pour in that bit of apple cider vinegar. Combine.
Lastly, swirl up the peanut butter and walnuts in the brownie batter.
Lay and smooth batter over in the baking pan. 
Let bake for 25-33 minutes.
Cool for an hour before placing strawberries or any other fresh fruit.

Dessert at the party.....
Here's what remained when I brought the pan back home.
One piece with an ice cold cherry smoothie served in a mug. Superb dessert-- a satisfying end to a wonderful surprise party day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vegan Crepes & Scones

For a friend's birthday, it seemed like a good idea to give Little Choc Apothecary a second chance. My intuition said "yes."
First of all, they now have a brand spanking new renovated upstairs. Varied jars of colorful spices and natural herbs line the back wall in beautifully organized display.
Toasting to the birthday girl with an iced chocolate orange shake and banana almond smoothie.
Pizza Crepe meets Room For Mushroom (with added homemade cashew cheese).
Bits of the interior action. This is a fulfilling amount.
So filled, the crepe oozed out bursting goodness on the other side.
Cinnamon raisin almond scone and complimentary hot tea-- which was extremely flavorful with lovely floral notes. My friend chose apricot jam. I selected raspberry.
Take a look at the creamy, luxurious raspberry jam and the thick clotted cream.
The vanilla flavor was a strong complement to sweet chewy raisins and spicy cinnamon component.
Magic number 7 to end a wonderful meal. The staff was friendly, courteous, and sweet this time around. Plus I received a 10% coupon on my next visit. I cannot wait to bring another pal!
After brunch, we did bump into Ghostbuster Leslie Jones outside of Madame Tussand's. I bet she would have loved Little Choc Apothecary too!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mushroom Tofu Scramble

Imagine my surprise that my friend named a dish after me.
She's back in wonderful Toronto. I'm breathing Philadelphia air.
Still, as that smooth My Morning Jacket song goes "only memories remain...."  
While in splendid Queens reprieve, jamming to great 80's songs, having a fun ole time, we made incredible tofu scramble. It was well worth that last minute evening grocery stop for important ingredient turmeric. Just a pinch makes for a tasty start to summer morning.   

Mushroom Tofu Scramble

2 tablespoon olive olive
1/2 chopped red onion
1 1/2 cup portobello mushroom (or any other mushroom)
1 8oz package extra firm tofu, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3-4 slices of Field Roast Chao (or any other dairy free cheese alternative)

In the sizzling heated oil, combine onions and mushrooms. Let them glisten and hiss.
Add crumbled tofu and the traditional tofu seasonings-- turmeric, salt, and black pepper. Stir for about 7-10 minutes.

Melt the Chao in last. Turn off heat. Share with your bestie.
Cooked broccoli-- perfect side dish, perfect veggie addition.
Colorful set table.
She had fresh ground coffee as beverage of choice. I created a blueberry cherry almond milk smoothie.
Close up.
Watermelon slices beautify the breakfast experience.

Monday, August 1, 2016

By Chloe's: The Chic Vegan Experience

by Chloe is certainly worth the modest wait time.
After a day full of art and intellectual thought, we walked from The Greene Space towards by Chloe on Bleecker St. From outside, the seemingly Chanel inspired awning featured homage to a fashionable admiration of vertical black and white aka the classic pinstripe.

Sophisticated decor of a vegan fast food joint.
Humorous aesthetic likely had a nod to comic books too-- refreshing charm in the restaurant field.
The fancy napkins touting "so fresh and clean" have a vintage vibe yet also call out Outkast's funky rap song. Plus the little restaurant wait buzzers all have adorable messages such as my "thank you berry much!"
Fancy cupcakes, cookies, and cake teased the eye in a tasteful colored display.
I ordered the sweet potato-cashew macaroni & cheese topped with shitake bacon and almond Parmesan. It was the most superb combination of flavors. The creamy cheese sauce mirrored some rich fascinating heavenly cloud of euphoric bliss while crispy smoked mushrooms took on the challenging task of providing meaty flare. Easily one of the best vegan macs ever tried.
My friend had a guacamole burger, fries, and Kombucha. The fries were delicious and the curry beet ketchup was absolutely divine! Yes, I did have a contorted face, so used to tomato based fry savior, but beets changed my mind quickly. Plus I believe my friend fell in love with the curry beet ketchup as well.
All in all, a pleasant experience. Loved the black and white noir nostalgia and the retro packaging! I will have to come again to try out desserts. And more curry beet ketchup....

Sunday, July 31, 2016

From Queens To Coney Island

That beautiful morning view from the Long Island window.
When my good friend from Toronto planned to visit New York City for two weeks whilst house sitting in Queens, she kindly invited me to stay with her. Most wonderful to be given such a cordial opportunity, I welcomed the latest NYC adventure. She shared with me not just Queens-- Westbeth Artist Community, Coney Island's fantastic freak show, and beaches were new sights to behold. I showed off art spots and vegan fare.

My first stop was to funny, wise, talented Gloria Miguel's 90th birthday party-- a dear respected thespian my good friend knew very, very well. Gloria stays at the renowned Westbeth Community in the West Village. There was plenty of food, cake, ice cream (even vegan varieties from Trader Joe's), live music, and dancing. After the party and cleanup, we packed everything up to Gloria's. Her place was magically divine. She had vintage posters of her past performances as well as her children's. beautiful photographs of her past everywhere. Uniquely decorated apartment certainly felt distinguished and packed with history.
Classic performing Gloria from Spiderwoman Theater's site.
During Coney Island Part I, we saw the most amazing freak show. Justin Weber caused effective illusions when he rolled a glass ball around his limber arms and hands without dropping it. Later on he showed off mad yo-yo skills. Betty Bloomerz swallowed sharp tipped knives and got "sliced" in the old wooden "box of death." Nola Star consumed fire and blew smoke on her arms and legs to Purity Ring's catchy "begin again." Afterwards we left the amazingly fun show of magical wonderment to be caught up in a terrifying rain storm, not knowing that Coney Island had not only been put on a lash Flood Warning, but a Shark Warning as well! Yikes! We were safe for a while inside the hilariously bad candy and comedy shop-- Williams.
On a trip to MoMa, we saw their recently acquired Faith Ringgold massive painting Die.
Ringaround Arosie, pencil, acetone, varnish, enamel paint, ink, and cloth-covered electrical wire on papier-mache and masonite, Eva Hesse, 1965.
A part of Black Girl's Window, wooden frame with painted pasted papers, lenticular print, framed photograph, and plastic figurine, Betye Saar, 1969.
My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (Family Tree), Frida Kahlo, oil and tempera on zinc panel, 1936.
Dun Well Doughnuts is always an exciting place to visit!
Colorful doughnut splendor on rounded wood grain.
The "Be your own kind of beautiful" heather grey tank dress was found at H&M for $9.99. The statement fits an individual not playing by societal rules-- especially a doughnut aficionado like myself. While my friend had a soy milk iced coffee, we split lemon, strawberry-lemon, chocolate peanut butter, and traditional glazed doughnuts. Yummmmm!!!
I arrived late to The Greene Space, having to resign myself to standing in the back. However, Deborah Willis, Tisch University Department Chair and prime reason for going to South Africa in November, fled past me. Plus the ever fashionable Kimberly Drew creator of the informative blog, Black Contemporary Art was standing by.The urge to say "hello" and flash my camera grew and grew. But alas, I never had the courage to anything. Other than stare out of eye corners.
As for the talk, thankfully I hadn't missed a huge majority of amazing conversation. This year's graduating crop of Studio Museum in Harlem's artist-in-residents were figurative painter Jordan Casteel, performance artist EJ Hill, and poet/author/photographer Jibade Khalil-Huffman. For the second consecutive year, the collective three were invited to Greene Space for a lively discussion with a Studio Museum in Harlem A.I.R. alum of their choosing. Kerry James Marshall, Kevin Beasley, and Dave McKenzie were selected among the many.
Jordan and Kerry pondering answers to intense questions. Jordan's response to a question about painting black males struck a cord.
"I feel very strongly that I am present in these paintings, that the black woman is not absent. Every person is reconstructed through my lens and my experience as sister to brother to cousin.... there is great power in that vein. The power of a man painting the female has been present throughout history for decades, for centuries. Not many questions are asked around that.... Breaking a bridge as much as building one. Diversity is where we say 'getting numbers in the room.' Inclusivity is actually making voices present. "
EJ with host Q2 Music's fabulously dressed Helga Davis.
Kerry, Kevin, and Dave discussing artistic life post Harlem.
I met Kerry James Marshall-- one of my favorite painters in the whole wide world. His phenomenal works, often large scale and filled with enriching perspective, places ebony skinned models in contemporary and historical context. To render forms so convincingly, to see their distinctive facial features carved in darkness of their flesh, next to array of vivid schemes truly showcases the full scale of black being the presence of all color.
I excitedly shook Kerry's hand and exclaimed, "I'm such a huge fan of your work!"
He chuckled and beamed, responding with, "thank you! You must be a painter too."
A vegan soft serve gelato spot on Bleecker St. that I will visit someday.
Further down Bleecker St is a Vicki Khuzami's Bohemorama acrylic painted mural celebrating Greenwich Village geniuses. James Baldwin (with "Another Country" being typed out behind him) is in good company.
Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie.
Billie Holiday next to Patti Smith with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis in the front roll.
This part included Elaine de Kooning next to John Sloan (PAFA alum and former faculty), Edie Sedgewick, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollack, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko, and Marcel Duchamp.
On Wednesday, we visited Coney Island again-- this time on a clear, hot day. The Art Walls called our names.
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh creator of Stop Telling Women to Smile.
Nina Chanel Abney captures the fun, fabulous symmetry of playful black mermaids in her signature abstract shapes with mingling symbolism and word play. Her work is discussed at length here.
John Ahearn.
Sam Vernon's collection of Coney Island stickers and torn photographs create a homage collage.
Closer inspection.
Anonymous concrete ground "not art."
"I am a story told walking..." a piece from Stephen Powers' massive collection of catchy phrases used like commercialized pictionary.
Your lighthouse saves me from the perilous shadowed waters?
Lifeguards on duty.
It was my first time ever coming to the beach. In singly landlocked Ohio and Pennsylvania, there no places to dazzle in plentiful sunlight, an endless body of rippled water, and beige sand simultaneously. The air is cool and pleasant. Weather is perfect. The breezes are welcoming wonders against a face that cannot stop smiling.

On Wednesday evening, we took a walk down to the pier, viewing Long Island view at night.
Gorgeous sight to behold!