Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Holidays My Friends From Me To Yours

Happy start of the season everyone!
I hope everyone had a merry day and that loving hearts were as full as bellies. Remember just what this all means. Not engorging on food and television alone. Some families celebrate this fourth Thursday whilst others mourn, grieve for too much unjust loss. I'm not solely talking about grisly violence of now, but of history, of many yesterdays that can never be forgotten. Hold tight mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, friends, and so on. Let anyone that doesn't know how you feel about them. Let those who don't know they're loved that they are.

This year's cranberry sauce is comprised of water, fresh cranberries, cane sugar, and lemon juice. Simple, sweet, tart, and a bright pop of fruity color.
These would make great holiday gifts.
Daiya in the macaroni! Always.
Cheddar & Jalapeno Garlic Havarti cubes with red onions, nutritional yeast, and almond milk.
Melted, baked goodness.
Portobello Mushroom, Asparagus, & Walnut Couscous is always a winner! This is its third entrance.
The vegan plate. And yes, there were two. Just two. Today.
Holding little Princeton for a while. Cute as a button.
Playing games and holiday songs.
Peeping Tom between siblings.

Blogger Tricks

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Never Forget The Roots

The one seed that never stops being watered. Growth doesn't end with age. I will breathe and live in art forever. That's my happily ever after.
I'm home in Dayton for holiday break-- a much needed reprieve from stressful strenuous situations that reached to a critical breaking point. After assigned readings of Bell Hooks and Adrian Piper and trying to discuss those readings, personal attacks on race misconceptions burst inside overly heated seminar classroom last Monday. I found myself lost and shamefully led astray, needing compass and true direction. Conflicts that I shall not write into. In fact, since last night's Ferguson verdict, my mind has been stewing in pain and numbness. A wicked spider weaved a manifestation of anger filled thread into brain, layering thickly upon my heart. To bear witness to photographic images of a distraught family not receiving justice blew world to shattered smithereens. This case brought out the best and worst in the anonymous humanity. Internet serves as both fundamental education and grisly horror. For behind cyber screens are either powerful passionate activists dedicated to obliterating our country's massive problems or obscenely dangerous villains wanting only steadfast segregation.
Thus, a trip to Belmont High School this afternoon soothed like a healing balm, an elixir caressing inner wounds. Inside my former high school art teacher's classroom, Mrs. Carol Rogers that is, was once second home, a refuge (when she taught at Colonel White High School for the Performing Arts). Sounds of laughter and Damian Marley play loud. Happiness soon impregnated doubt, especially conversations about former students turning to arts colleges, refusing not to let their talents diminish. In other words, they were not statistics. 
Today I watched diverse teenagers, this up and coming generation of all sorts of different backgrounds and minorities. They chatted together whilst printmaking, drawing still life, or painting banners. I wasn't thinking about world news or social media or what happened in that classroom last Monday.
As I observed and learned:
I didn't see monsters or demons.
I didn't see "things" or "its" to fear.
I didn't see "black eyes filled with hatred."
I didn't see 3/5 of a human.
I didn't see threats.
I saw truth and promise.
I saw light, laughter and goodness.
I saw so much hope for dreams fulfilled.
I saw future artists, inventors, teachers, geniuses, and whatever they choose.
Most of all, I saw flesh and blood peoples deserving a chance just to be. 
Students worked with renown local artist James Pate to create large scale black and white portraits of phenomenal leaders-- Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. They each had a section of the grid and used charcoal on white paper to successfully render amazing, realistic renderings. I hear that Mother Theresa will be next in line for such a prestigious honor.
Bison mural unveiled last year also led by Pate. Three panels combined of individual student portraits form traditional Belmont mascot. Charcoal and chalk with red and blue (school colors) acrylic paint mixed with Mod Podge create a captivating composition that hangs in the school's main hallway. It was quite wonderful to see this being created by a bunch of enthusiastic students and playing a small part. There's truly nothing like working with youth who enjoy art. Nothing.
Student rolling up a woodcut print.
Wood cut close up entails a hand clutched basketball diving into the net.
"Without value you couldn't see anything," says Pate to one of the special drawing group-- a group for advanced young artists during last period. "If everything were the same exact color, there would be no contrast and no way to draw it. You can cheat nature if you understand value."
Their composed seemingly simple still life was plastic fruit, a cup, and wine bottle.
Students in action with charcoal.
Another student cuts out New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony.
This print came out wonderfully all due to this incredibly intricate line work. Short lines verses long lines in varied direction. Thick lines and narrow lines build intriguing highlights. Lots of precise decision making reflected here. He captured facial gesture, the very essence of this famous basketball player.
No words for special bonds forming between an art teacher and her fellow students. Mrs. Rogers has been a monumental figure in my life for seventeen years now. She's one of my dearest, truest friends and loves each and every one of her students-- has a memory like one wouldn't believe. It's amazing to see her each year, activating classroom, sprinkling her witty, humorous charm into the kids. They all love her as much as I do.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lemon Bananas & Cream

Incredible light and fluffy dessert.
Today I performed a small good deed. Taking advantage of Starbucks Buy One Get One Free On Holiday Drinks: Day Two, I ordered tall Gingerbread Soy Decaf Lattes, intending to drown sorrows into sugared condolence. Lackluster afternoon crit weighed heavily on mind. Except SB on Market Street was super busy. Faulty register broke down frequently much to customer frustration. And also, there were few seats for disheartened artist to put on her writing hat. I was fortunate to find a seat next to a young gentleman introducing himself as Maurice, a web designer. I have no idea how he figured me to be an art student. That was one of his first questions. He had no red cup drink of his own or intentions of buying one. Or maybe he had drunken coffee before arrival. I offered up my free one and warned him of it being decaffeinated, soy "milked," and needing no extra sugar. He didn't mind. 
All in all, it was sweet the tiny interaction we made: shaking hands, talking art, and sharing decaf lattes.

Edible Flowers are $1.29 each and a beautiful way to decorate dishes needing color accent.
I am both eager and frightened of food adventure. In every section of Whole Foods Market are daring challenges that I have yet faced to battle. Price is one factor. When I spied Organic Edible Flowers for a dollar and some change, curiosity forced my hand holding fresh basil container.
Now these little babies are in vividly intense colors. So I imagined flavor profile being just the same.
It tastes refreshing in this banana dessert. Takes on strong flare, more powerful than mint, lighter than basil. There is something special about biting into a flower bulb and knowing that it's a flower bulb. Texture has both chew and mild crunch. Although it seems rather pungent to add into sweetness, flowers add layers of phenomenal depth between scoops of thick Coco Whip and whipped banana amazement. Next time, I will mince up pieces, incorporating weaving in and out balance diversifying each singsong bite.
Overall, lemon bananas and cream tastes just like a Shakespeare verse.
Yet the love is made for a serving of just one.

Lemon Bananas & Cream Ingredients and Preparation

2 ripened bananas, smashed
i teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of cinnamon
1 cup So Delicious Coco Whip
2 teaspoon shredded coconut
edible flowers for ganish
finely grated lemon zest (optional)

Mash opened bananas with back of a spoon or fork.
Fold in 1/2 cup of Coco Whip and shredded coconut.
Top with remaining Coco Whip and edible flowers.

Coco Whip is such a blessing to banana heaven.
Poetry captured in a "Love Bug" glass.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Citrus Basil Tempeh Burger

This is no ordinary tempeh burger. Citrus flare and basil notes make for an amazing dalliance. And melted Field Roast Chao and tahini dressing ties yumminess together.
 I have humorously discovered that a Starbucks holiday drink can be decaffeinated (hey it's the start of 3 days of buy one get one free!) amongst other things. Tovah and I went out to SB this afternoon, excited and relieved from receiving good critic feedback. When she ordered chestnut praline decaf, I was shocked and grateful. Now I no longer have to endure painful stomach cramps just to celebrate free deliciousness. I enjoy Soy Gingerbread Latte with no whipped cream-- wonderful sweet treat. After SB, we were off to Blick's. More litho crayons! I need them since lo and behold our spring schedules were in our mailboxes yesterday!

Whoo hoo! Scored painting and lithography electives for the spring! I haven't drawn on stones since 2010- way too long a separation! Plus the amazing Titus Kaphar as my visiting critic!!! Very, very excited for 2015!
I have been reading overwhelmingly stimulating poems, criticism, theory, and artist books. Between revisiting Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman, I've been introduced to poet Paul Celan to artists Abigail Deville (my visiting critic this term), Mark Bradford, Carrie Schneider, Awol Erizku, and countless others.
In fact yesterday, PAFA started a new series entitled Painting and Photography-- lectures by Artcritical's David Cohen. Four parts will focus on the painter's love and hate marriage with the camera-- both artistic practices manmade inventions meant to capture the world. Back when daguerreotypes and whatnot were being used many painters outright quit and considered careers over.  Turner himself said, "end of art is upon us and I'm glad to have had my day." This quote from  John Berger's Ways Of Seeing, however, provides most invigorating thought about cameras and their intent.
"They're not truth, although appear so... deprives us of the best pleasures of society."
Lately, I have been feeling bewildered how much snapping takes place as opposed to simply enjoying moments or documenting in other ways. We're in a digital age of nonstop sharing and one wonders if revelations are beginning to be too much inconsideration. 
Yet something I'll never stop sharing is one of my favorite subjects-- food. Most specifically: vegan food.
First off, Pretzilla Soft Buns are amazing. Moist and pliant, easy to pull apart. They taste incredibly "buttery" and almost melt on the tongue. Half unsalted pretzel and half hamburger bun this is a holy matrimony everyone has got to try! Perfect to hold citrus and basil flared tempeh with oozing Field Roast Original Chao Slices.I used both dried basil (part of marinate to glaze tempeh) and fresh basil mixed into baby arugula. Feel free to use one or the other if not desiring to choose both.
This is a two serving meal. Unless you want to eat these two tempeh burgers on your own.

Basil Tempeh Salad Burger Ingredients and Preparation

1 pkg Trader Joe's 3 Grain Tempeh
2 tablespoon olive oil
juice from one lemon
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup baby arugula
1/4 cup fresh basil
red onion slices
Field Roast Chao Slices
2 tablespoon tahini dressing
Pretzilla Soft Baked Pretzel Buns

Heat skillet lightly doused with olive oil.
Cut tempeh in half.
Mix olive oil, lemon juice, lemon pepper, garlic, basil, and salt together.
Lightly brush concoction onto tempeh halves.
Layer them in hot skillet, cooking each side for 7-8 minutes.
Add one slice of cheese and cover. Turn off heat.

Carefully place tempeh "patties" onto Pretzilla bun and top with arugula, basil, and red onions.
Add tomatoes or mushrooms too for juicier, "meatier" flare. Otherwise admire your "salad" lunch.
Pour chose sauce atop and slap that Pretzilla bun on top!
Hand held melted goodness.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pacifica Mineral Naturals Smolder Eye Liner Shadow

Pacifica keeps on bringing out great product!
Congratulations to Jolyn! She has won the Pacifica Natural Minerals Color Lip Tint Trio! Yippee!!! Thanks for entering. There shall be another contest soon peeps.
Now let's chat another beauty treat from one of my favorite brands. For last week's installation performance, I picked up Pacifica Smolder Eye Lining Gel in Tahitian Pearl-- a beautiful green shadow. Speckles of glittery gold sparkle in this intense hued shaded gem. Soft, one coat application glides onto lids with effortless maneuverability. Impressive color that reminds me of the old M.A.C. days. Except here it's cruelty free and 100% vegan.
Pacifica creates the perfect beauty finds to stuff into any BFF's holiday stocking this year. 

The emerald tint is a dynamic complement to both brown skin and deep chocolate iris.
Used Elf's Defining Eye Brush to sweep against lids. I used one coat for the daytime look, but for nighttime smoky appearance enhance it with an extra coat over entire lid.
Some eyes shadows don't come across behind glasses well, but this is a definite keeper! Although I cannot say that I'm surprised. Love this brand!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New York Sights And Whole Food Delights

Autumn and winter danced the waltz on a gentle breezed New York centric Saturday.
Thanks to an anonymous Twitter friend, I was fortunate to catch Tom Pelphrey in Sharyn Rothstein's "By The Water" which runs through December 7, 2014 at Manhattan Theater Club's Stage II at New York City Center. This is a first time premiere production of a new partnership out of The Writer's Room, MTC and Ars Nova "designed to commission, develop and support playwrights in the process of creating new work for the stage."

So ummm.... someone not only screen capped, they also pasted a pink arrow near Tom's picture. Cool beans! Still, overall, the whole cast brought generous food to the table. Outstanding team right there!
Between love, loss, disappointment, and betrayal comes "By The Water," a harrowing tale about a family trying to fix broken pieces together after Hurricane Sandy hits near Staten Island, New York. However, it isn't just storm damage that needs repairing. Some notions cannot be easily remedied. Misplaced emotions run high. Marty (Vyto Ruginis) and Mary Murphy (Deidre O'Connell) are a sweet committed couple devastated to find their home in ruins, but cling to each other, devoted and loving. Both are each strong willed, determined characters and sometimes that can make or break a relationship. They also have raised Cain and Abel like sons. Sal (Quincy Dunn-Baker) is the savvy, rich, married businessman who lives in an expensive Manhattan apartment. His wife Offscreen Jen is never seen, but mentioned repeatedly and becomes an important character in her own right. Brian (Tom) is the former drug dealing bad boy thief who spent twenty-nine months in prison. He is on the clean up and up as an Olive Garden cook. Marty wants to stay in the torn, dilapidated chaos, but Mary secretly wants to move along with the rest of the neighborhood hoping for government buyout. It's a complex brewing conflict threatening husband and wife, emotionally strained brothers, and parents versus offspring. Rendered better than a dying daytime serial, I was on the edge of my seat entire way through and won't confess further. The cast put on an amazing performance. Terrific considering that there is no intermission. There will be cursing, some thunderous yelling declarations and minor electronic cigarette smoking. Please don't let that deter you from coming out and supporting Rothstein's heartwarming vision. I sat in the E section-- very top row that feels like an eloquent balcony position. Viewers can see stage from above (good job set designers!!) and still experience intimate closeness of all the flawless acting. Couple next to me appeared genuinely touched too. Husband tried hard to keep tears at bay and the wife exclaimed her joy. I asked if they liked it.
Passion, fire, despair and regret. Stubborn father like stubborn son. Another son desperate to not become father or brother. Mother standing beside husband without losing her own ground.
"By The Water" teaches audience that animosity shouldn't run so deep when forgiveness is at surface level.
Also I do believe I spied Rothstein, sitting on top of chairs, looking quite relaxed and proud.
Lord knows I was.
Might have to see it again if time allows. Live theater is truly a treat worth experiencing on repeat.

Afterwards, stirred and moved, I walked around breezy chill, taking photographs and admiring architecture. It's quite beguiling if you stand a certain way or zoom at a beguiling angle, the most intriguing narratives come into images.
I wanted to go to MOMA so bad. Terribly bad. But the line was a fifteen minute wait. At least the outside of the building garnered attention. Outside looking in at something profound. One day, I'll be in there amongst the masses. Maybe even have an actual piece inside. Then again, that might be too much to hope for. For now I remain a tiny diligent seed engorging vast amounts of water nourishment yet to fully blossom.
Henri Matisse and his fantastic cutouts. It'll be gone soon. I have to see this show. I have to! Matisse is one of those artists that utterly fascinates my eye.
Centered in a finely crafted floral arrangement and abstract curvature beauty played a circular shaped video of composed moving images.
I almost got hit by a car taking a shot. Then again the bike rider from a few months ago was the worst near transportation accident.
New York located Whole Foods Market (the one at Union Station) has a better, much larger variety than Philadelphia. I understand why. It takes time for these wonderful innovative vegan products to get evenly dispersed country wide-- longer still for it to appear around the globe. So it's best to hold tongue and make due with periodic upper east coast ventures every now and then. I know that in coming home for Daytonian Thanksgiving there won't be certain food items available that Philly Whole Foods has. Plus massive fun creating what one does not have anyway.
I'm obsessed with Whole Foods Market's falafels shaped like tater tots and herb seasoned potatoes served in their breakfast station. I don't drink much soda, but Sipp's is a real treat bottled nice and fancy. Yet I admit coming solely for the Field Roast Chao Slices.  Pretzilla and Abe's were pleasant bonuses.

Scored the other Field Roast Chao Slices, Pretzilla's infamous Soft Pretzel Burger Buns, and Abe's 100% Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice and Coconut Cake Cake Mini-Muffins!
The Starbucks are terrible. Just terrible.
Thankfully I've been recommended other comfortable places to enjoy vegan beverage whilst writing blog posts and stories. A writer deserves that.
After all, it's NaNoWriMo month. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nappylocs And The Three Combs: The Pan African Installation

"Nappylocs and the Three Combs: A Pan African Installation" was finished installing on Wednesday and closes tomorrow.
I usually don't showcase artwork often, but now I must. It's not called AfroVeganChick for nothing right? Poetry was performed yesterday to a modest audience. We enjoyed delicious vegan snacks like addictive Candy Cane Cream Chocolate Sandwich Cookies by 365 Brands-- Whole Foods' holiday sentiment. Everyone loved them. In fact, not much was left after the performance.
Here at PAFA, MFA/Post Baccalaureate students have a gracious opportunity to rent out studios to create an installation. I was rather excited to create a world inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears. That particular fairy tale takes place primarily indoors. My narrative of Nappylocs and the Three Combs is meant to be taken in outdoor context. However, there are varied common factors despite past and contemporary meeting together in almost conceptual manner. There's intrusion: stranger poking through someone's house using and "stealing" things. Combs each invade kinky hair roots and take away strands-- some of which thieved more than others. Each discovery was either painful or intolerable before being "just right." Despite three different "Made In China" factory combs only one of them is perfect.
Strands of red, green, and black ribbon are tied around hung combs, drawings, and kraft paper, threads of Pan African DNA. I have had some ask symbolism behind these specific colors, foolishly believing that everyone knew what they stood for. Red being blood of ancestral flow, green being land of African wealth and pride, and black standing for a race refusing to remain oppressed.

Braided Too Tight. Litho crayon on charcoal paper. Hairdresser was one of the poems I read. Based on an actual event.  In order to create parts, this hairdresser used a rat tail comb (one of the thinnest, most painful instruments known to kinky hair kind). And it hurt. It always always hurts.
Three Combs to The Afro. Litho crayon on charcoal paper.
Narrow Minded Comb. Litho Crayon on charcoal paper.
Wide Tooth Tears. Litho crayon on charcoal paper.
Close up.
Just Right. Litho crayon on charcoal paper.
The feedback has been phenomenal, inspiring. I've had both positive critiques and pointers to fix weaknesses. I would love to create another one either next semester or in the fall. It's quite invigorating to come up with an idea and use a space to generate manifestation.

Picks and combs dangling from Pan African ribbons.
Artificial black flowers wreathed by combs and ribbons.
High flying pick solo .
Floor is covered in red, black, and green tablecloths over scented white trash bags.
Outside door of installation was Red, Black, and Green What Does Pan-African Mean. A description of the symbolic colors and love leaves "growing" from flower petals.
Left side of floral arrangement.
These last seven photos were taken by dear sweet Tovah, fantastic artist, former Post Bac classmate, and most thoughtful friend. She has been awesome and one true supporter.

A little pause from poetry reading.
Staying valiant and strong despite horrors of using that tiny comb.
Black combs and black flowers hang from strategically hung afro picks.
Making sure the world is just right.
Some weird braid attempt. I'm still not quite good, but one day I shall overcome. I've been using mixture of Jamaican Black Castor, Argan, and Coconut Oils. I created a hair tie using red, black, and green ribbons.
The afro pick lady.
Standing in the world of my creation.