Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Sketchbook Diaries: The Ardor of the Sacred Book

Awkwardly Beautiful, red ribbon installation, 2015. Stylishly fashionable Camille (curator of Sketchbook Diaries) and I. Ah, back when red lipstick wanted to be another accessory to every art opening.
As I browsed through blogger drafts on this pleasant Sunday afternoon, I couldn't resist completing this oldie but goodie post about the not easily forgotten Sketchbook Diaries show at Philly's Goldilocks Gallery- a gallery/performing arts venue allowing emerging artists to showcase manifested visions on their own terms. I wanted to share this little story about how wonderful sketchbooks are, especially considering that such a warm wondrous afternoon begs for an artist to sit outside and either plein air pleasant environments basking in radiant sun or sporadic thoughts swimming inside their creative mind.
Sketchbook Diaries, a fun, playful, short exhibit (it was up for a few days), entailed that a sketchbook is more than a container of burgeoning starts and brilliant thoughts. The exhibit relied on audience interaction. By consisting of artists' sketchbooks with their favorite pages blown up and attached to walls, the featured artists asked for immediate participation, inviting viewers to open up intimate objects, to see range of black and white drawings to full blown color experiments, to read private words discussing happy, sad, dispirited, longing emotional tones. These books were different from one another-- traditionalist black journals and spiral bound to handmade books strung together with ribbon and unevenly cut artist papers. From quick gestural sketches to precise attention to detail, skill sets balanced between abstract and representational. Poems, love song lyrics, prose, short fiction, and daily chronicles filled pages alongside drawings and paintings.
Moreover, Sketchbook Diaries' brief showing expressed a joint love for art and writing, for those who have a sentimental attachment, an endearing fondness for the sketchbook practice. In this contemporary now, the sketchbook has remained a tried and true enjoyment, revealing each individual's unique approach to documenting their life stories.

Patrons were invited to take handmade books comprised of white envelopes sewn together.
Take one.
The bold arm cross pose with Eli coming in. We're standing in front of my dear friend's romantic, atmospheric paintings of mysterious trysts and candid writings on unrequited love and hope. Ian Wagner is not only a great writer and painter/illustrator, he has self-published several books and runs his own film/graphic design firm, MindRift Creations.
And thus Eli, Camille, and I struck some kind of uncoordinated pose triad. Eat you hear out, Vogue.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Goldie Falafel

On April Fool's Day, a new all-vegan falafel joint opened in Philadelphia and it's nothing at all to joke about. Goldie, the latest happening craze founded by the men behind Dizengoff, Zahav, and Federal Donuts, is a modestly lit upstairs restaurant with a few stools facing Sansom Street and booth seating which fits about twenty people when its non-crowded. Plus the staff is very friendly and will patiently answer questions about various tehini sauces (Amba, Schug, and Harissa by the way).  I had a rather nice, delicious experience that must be repeated.
The menu is simple. Nothing too fussy.
The layout also features a look at their ingredients.
Rose water...
Tea biscuits and coconut milk....
Insane closeup of the main star attraction-- plump falafel in a Dizengoff pita.
Crisp, fried to perfection falafel surrounded in Israeli salad, cabbage, and plain tehini. It has been such a while since I've seen a falafel with a beautiful, vivid green interior. Maybe I have a salt sensitivity these days, but I thought falafel was a tad bit too salty. Just a little. 
Crunchy Shwarma spiced fries are out of this world phenomenal, especially with the sweet tangy ketchup. They also come in regular and Za'atar.
I chose the chocolate tehina shake-- my brand spanking new addiction. Its incredibly thick and tastes like a veganized Butterfinger with a unique nutty flavor doused in amazingly rich chocolate and crunchy tea biscuits. For only $4, it's the best and cheapest priced vegan shake in Philly.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thrifty Fashion Arrives in Florida

On the hammock swing near the treehouse built at Gram's Hostel, in a wash and go 'fro style, Pacifica Enlightment Gloss in Poppy coating pout, I'm in a wild schematic designed polyester dress with asymmetrical trimmed bottom that cost only $7. 
Prior to hitting pleasant Florida scene, at Philly Aids Thrift-- my favorite secondhand shop in Philadelphia, colorful, distinctive clothes spoke my name and shouted out my phone number. Made of breathable fabric, I thought it beneficial to be prepared to relax in the hottest of temperatures with outfits containing thin, weightless material. No sense in being distracted by humidity.
Lace and pattern easily led snazzy curating decisions, matching my upbeat attitude and flair for artsy vogue.

I loved this $7 red on mauve skirt. It matched the gorgeous tone of lettering in Frida's name, flowers, ribbon, and lipstick and has a black mesh lining. However, looking chic was problematic seeing as the skirt kept sliding. I'll be wearing it with suspenders from now on. Or perhaps have my sewing friend make and attach pretty belt loops. Either way, I'm not throwing out the skirt on a technicality that could be mended. After all, little tailoring efforts are key to maintaining a successful thrifty style.

Vintage white polka dot and dark blue three quarter sleeve cotton blouse with black tie ribbon for $4 and beautiful white lacy top with thin black stripes for $3.

$4 Forever 21 light blue and white Peter Pan collar blouse with $5 heather gray lace and black jumper dress in another sweet bathroom pic. And let me say, this is a beautiful bathroom-- brick and mortar, wide open space, clean tiled floor, dim lighting. Good job Café Hey!
Happiness is being on a bunk bed, resting weary travel bones on the top bunk, taking advantage of the ceiling mirror, adoring frugal thrift store finds that border between modern sophistication and vintage trendsetting. I think the Powerpuff Girls would agree on these things.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Frida Kahlo's Pain & Pleasures Bloom Up the Dali Museum

Ah, beloved Frida Kahlo, the queen of my painting heart whose detailed portraits always strike such an evocative cord.
The Dali Museum (named after the quirky, refined, multitalented, well known Surrealist, Salvador Dali) is a wondrous place in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida. Around the building, designed by Yann Weymouth (who was Chief of Design for I.M. PEI projects on the National Gallery of Art's East Wing in Washington D.C. and The Grand Louvre in Paris, France). On Dali's site describes structure in great detail:

" combines the rational with the fantastical: a simple rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls out of which erupts a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma”. The Enigma, which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, a twenty-first century homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s museum in Spain. Inside, the Museum houses another unique architectural feature – a helical staircase – recalling Dali’s obsession with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule." 
Overall, inside and outside, the building and its manicured surroundings seem to escape from a most exciting whimsical fantasy. Apparently there is a labyrinth and I'm saddened to have missed escaping down the mystical rabbit hole maze. Next time.

Bright, viable flowers and plant life flourish in the afternoon sun.

On One Dali Blvd exists a fantastical, surreal world that delights all minds-- creative and logistical.

The exterior surrounded with greenery landscape. 

When expectant viewer find third floor, walls greet them, covered in a plethora of synthetic spring flowers, Frida Kahlo's white lettered name nestled atop pinks, greens, and yellows. Lively colors reflect tone of an artist passionate about life despite miseries of physical ailments and unexpected tragedies. This latest American Kahlo exhibit features fifteen paintings, several drawings and prints, and photographs. Some pieces were in the nearly two year old NYBG exhibit, including a replica of her Caza Azul garden. One of my personal favorites, the heartbreakingly poignant Broken Column, features a dispirited Frida with fat tears spilling down her cheeks, an erect medical contraption centered in her exposed body.


Portrait of Alicia Galant, 1927
The Bus, 1929
Portrait of Virginia, 1929

Henry Ford Hospital, 1932
Portrait of Luther Burbank, 1932
A Few Small Nips, 1935 
The Deceased Dimas Rosas at the Age of Three, 1937
My Nurse and I, 1937
Broken Column, 1944

The Flower of Life, 1944

Portrait of Dona Rosita Morillo, 1944
The Chick, 1945
The Mask (Of Madness), 1945
Self Portrait with Small Monkey, 1945

Without Hope, 1945

A still from a short documentary on Frida. Here she's drawing in her sketchbook, dressed rather fashionably in a chic cap and heavy coat.
Frida Kahlo, Lola Álvarez Bravo, ca. 1944.

Frida Kahlo (with Globe), Manuel Álvarez Bravo, ca. 1938.
In every nook and cranny, images of Frida flow around, either on thin tapestries, adhered to walls, or looped in a sincere video. Her famous quotes largely printed throughout exhibit space. Viewers see Frida as carefree spirited, as smoldering temptress, as solitary thinker, as stylish fashion maker, as revolutionary. Images are taken by various photographers from her father, Guillermo Kahlo to Manuel Álvarez Bravo and his first wife, Lola Álvarez Bravo to Nickolas Muray (seen back in Toronto years ago).

Portrait of Alicia Galant, oil on canvas, 1927.

Small vintage photographs include one of Frida and sister Cristina (top right).
Frida Kahlo on a boat at the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, Mexico City, c. 1928-29.
The Bus, oil on canvas, 1929.
Frida incorporated her life in her work, even her fruit and flower set ups contain sensual elements. Most paintings, however, reveal horrific tragedy. Accident, 17 September, 1926 is a drawing sketch, with broad, angry marks, all contour without shading, narrating grisly bus crash that almost killed her. Its completely opposite of The Bus, the painting a safe calm before treacherous storm, apprehensive figures unaware of the tragedy about to befall them.

Accident, 17 September, 1926, pencil on paper, 1926.

Frida in Caza Azul, her garden.
This beautiful photograph took up the space of an entire wall.
Portrait of Frida Kahlo, Guillermo Kahlo, 1932
Self Portrait with Small Monkey, oil on composite board, 1945.

The Chick, oil on composite board, 1945.

Self-Portrait, pencil on paper, 1932.

Excerpt from her diaries.
Excerpt from her diaries.
Excerpt from her diaries.
The Kahlo Family with Frida dressed in her father's suit, Guillermo Kahlo, 1926.
The Dali Museum presented a rather compelling visual behind Frida Kahlo's life through lens of art, writing, and photography and in the end, encompasses a thought provoking, three dimensional biography on art history's most passionate voice. Detrimental circumstances would have eaten away spirit. Frida, however, didn't allow physical ailments to destroy her creative tenacity. Instead, she painted diarist confessions on canvas and metal surfaces, acknowledging to the world to see that she was not a weak woman conforming to diabolical, societal ideals. She dared and challenged and fought. How could anyone deny her greatness? Dali himself adored her. Thus, her poignant oeuvre belonged in this exceptional museum, placed in perfect adjacency to another innovative mastermind.
Frida ends next Monday. Please do see and be amazed by this brilliant, beautiful, talented woman.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Raw Heavenly Delights at The Cider Press Café

In the heart of fashionable vintage shops and small art galleries, on a street filled with action and excitement,The Cider Press Café is the spot to receive sophisticated vegan cuisine.
After a blissful day at both the Dali Museum to see the huge Frida Kahlo exhibit and the Museum of the Fine Arts where renowned women artists Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Berthe Morisot have work, I took in the vibrant St. Petersburg downtown scene. Sites such as a view of the yachts and various boats sitting on majestic blue waters, the Chihuly Collection (which was closed), a hip record shop, and a string of retro boutiques were stops before entering the clean, relaxed atmosphere of The Cider Press Café. They have a vast variety of drinks, sandwiches feature well known vegan products such as Beyond Meat's Beast Burger, Field Roast Chao, and Tofurkey slices, and the dessert menu is stuff of sugar induced fantasies including a scrumptious sounding $10 sundae.

The décor is simple yet has a refined elegance, especially the ardor for crystal blue.
To start, I order the house pressed apple cider (alcohol free of course). They press apples every single day so it's fresh, new, and utterly delightful. In the background, the art is a poetic nod to Frida.

With my amazing drink, I had raw buffalo cauliflower bites served with crisp celery and tangy celery ranch sauce.

Dehydrator braised cauliflower has a delicate crunch and spicy pizzazz that one cannot resist. I can finally say that I've tried buffalo cauliflower and loved every bite.

On a bed of delicious greens (with some fancy stray heart shapes), the raw, gluten free lasagna comes out drenched in captivating beauty. Juicy, plump tomatoes and thin zucchini ribbons act as pasta buffers between layers of herbed cashew ricotta, sun dried tomato marinara, and basil walnut pesto sauce.

Close up of luxuriously seductive enticement that had my mouth watering way before my fork and knife dug in.

Genius idea to use tomatoes as the "pasta" alongside the zucchini ribbons. The chewy onion bread served as a tasty piece of heaven between lasagna bites.
Ah, the dessert menu, always my favorite part to the meal experience. The choice was hard.

The raw white chocolate lavender cheesecake topped with virgin chocolate sauce is by far one of the best vegan cheesecakes that I've ever devoured! Talk about beautiful presentation with leaving a pretty floral accent in the midst of the dreamily applied zig zag.

Cacao butter, coconut, and lavender are a few of the ingredients infusing this rich, sweet dessert atop of a crust that must be made from nuts and dates. The virgin chocolate sauce is satisfactory, nodding to the perfect chocolate taste without the milk additives we grew up indulging. That sauce was pure, unadulterated heaven. In all honesty, I wish that the café could ship me this cheesecake. Its tasted very special, so special that I took my time consuming, closing my eyes after each forkful.

An elegant end to a superb meal, to a wonderful time in sunny Florida.