27 July 2012

This Weekend

- Beasts of the Southern Wild at the Landmark Century Theater
- Teen movies and KFC with Molly Soda
- Editing photos from Wisconsin
- Finally going to the Logan Square Public Library 
- The Art of Happiness
- Logan Square Farmer's Market

26 July 2012

Seeing Spots

With the whole world turning their eyes toward the sun earlier this summer for the once-in-a-lifetime transit of Venus, you'd think that the outcome would be that we're all seeing spots. But even after rubbing my eyes, I have noticed spots and dots trending practically everywhere! Coming to a head with the opening of Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective earlier this summer.

As a bona fide art lover, and Chicago native, dots don't shock or surprise as a new trend - given that the Art Institute of Chicago holds one of the most important works of "dotty" art - George Seurat's (pronounced Sir-rah) A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884-1886).

Gifted to the museum in 1926, and one of Seurat's largest and best-known works of art, this massive painting is composed of hundreds of thousands of little dots of paint, created using a technique known as Pointillism. This technique is based upon the idea that light is not merely white, but comprised of many different colors. By building colors one upon another using the system of complementary colors, Seurat activates the canvas by using simple laws of optics to move the viewer's eyes from dot to dot to dot, creating light, color, volume, and movement. And Seurat wasn't alone - his experiments with light and color through Pointillist paintings were hugely influential on the Impressionist movement. You can see that artists like Monet, Renoir, and Cassatt all played with pure color to activate the way the eye works through the canvas.

While Seurat was one of the firsts to see the wonderful qualities of dots - he's certainly not the last! And in 2012, it seems as though the dot trend has come full circle. Ahem, pun intended.

At the start of 2012, contemporary artist, Damien Hirst, had a series of landmark exhibitions scattered around the globe at eleven Gagosian Gallery locations. And the theme of the work was - you guessed it - spots. Between 1986 and 2011, Hirst has supplemented his artistic career with this famous body of work depicting hundreds dot paintings composed of a random color patterns. Some paintings are big, while others are tiny and intricate. Hiring a staff of many workers to help compose and complete these works, it's hard not to walk away from one of these shows with dots on the brain.

Cupric Nitratre, 2007 via Gagosian Gallery

Artist Yayoi Kusama is another lover of dots - shes made an entire career on the theme, and has yet to tire of it. Kusama was even quoted as having said "Polka dots are a way to infinity", and clearly there is a sense of the infinite in her work. The repetition of pattern within an architectural space is disorienting and infinite. It's hard to perceive of space and volume when the planes are interrupted by dot after dot.

Kusama in one of her polka dot spaces via Sleekmag

Kusama so loves polka dots, that in a recent show at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, she created a space in which visitors could enter and partake in "dottifying" the room! The end result of the aptly named Obliteratation Room is overwhelmingly stunning. Yayoi Kusama also recently teamed up with Louis Vuitton and the Whitney Museum to release a collection based on her work titled Infinitely Kusama. Her show at the Whitney opened earlier this month.

Still from Kusama's Obliteration Room via Colossal Art & Design

While not all of us consumers could readily pick up a Kusama or Hirst original work of art - it is relatively easy to walk out of the door and find dots of our own to partake in. Trends in fashion point to the dot - and it is hot hot hot! And how about food? Macarons and doughnuts are all the rage, with three specialty donut shops opening in Chicago in the last year - Doughnut Vault, Do-Rite Donuts, and Glazed and Infused.

Doughnuts via Doughnut Vault

And now, dear reader, you might be wondering where this involved dot study is headed... and for those of you living in Chicago, you are certainly in for a treat, because the master of dots, Roy Lichtenstein has arrived.

With the opening of Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective at the Art Institute came my own realization of just how hot dots are right now. So hot in fact, that there is currently an entire exhibition focused on the career of an artist who spent five decades of his life perfecting the art of the dot - or to be more specific, the Benday dot. In utilizing the Benday dot, Lichtenstein asks of the viewer to think about the reference of the all powerful print media, composed of, many tiny little dots. He used dots to flatten his image while simultaneously, and quite ingeniously, creating volume. And better yet, Lichtenstein did it all by hand. That's right, he took something that we as viewers and consumers took to be automatic and mechanical, and slowed it down painstakenly painting each and every dot by hand. Playing with themes from art history and pop culture, Lichtenstein effectively birthed the Pop Art movement on a foundation of dotty paintings.

Ohhh... Alright... (1964) via the Art Institute of Chicago 

So without further delay, if you live in the Chicagoland area, or are visiting between now and September 3, I urge you to hop in line at the Doughnut Vault and then head on over to the Art Institute of Chicago to partake in a wonderful artistic movement - the tradition of dots and spots!

Now Entering My Crostini Phase

For dinner the last two nights in a row, I have been trying to creatively work through things I know I need to eat that have

In an effort to waste less food, I've been trying to work my way through things that been in the fridge or fruit bowl just long enough to enter the stage I refer to as "questionable" or "eat now!" Answering the question of what to do with leftovers and things that appear to be "ripe" - can be tricky, but is often solved by creating soups, hashes, frittatas, etc. But I don't want soup, hash, or frittata. What I want is something that tastes fresh, is cool, crunchy, and has a a distinct and robust flavor profile. And then Joy the Baker posted her peach tomato and mozzarella crostini recipe, and my prayers were answered!

I happened to have ALL of the ingredients needed to make this dish, and on a whim, I improvised and made my own balsamic reduction to drizzle on top of the finished product. With fresh peaches, basil, and tomato - a giant ball of mozzarella on the brink of going bad, and some slices of bread, I had a fresh and tasty meal in minutes. And I am obsessed.

Joy the Baker's peach, basil, mozzarella crostini!!
peach, mozzarella, basil, tomato, crostini

These crostini are the vehicle to get the balsamic reduction in my mouth.
tomato, basil, mozzarella crostini

19 July 2012

This Weekend

-Dinner with my favorite professor and Ben at Lula Cafe
-Megabus to Madison
-Camping at Moriah's family's farm with Rachel
-American PlayersTheatre
-Dinner at Milkweed
-Writing in my journal
-Reading Eat Pray Love (I am really enjoying it!)
-Writing letters
-Taking pictures

My New Soles

My beloved clogs pictured here, here, and herehad reached a point in which my dad voiced his opinions on them nearing the end of their lifespan. I had worn them so ragged, that I was literally walking on wood, and grossing out friends and relatives. He suggested I toss them, and after a quick mouth-watering search of the Swedish Hasbeen shop for a similar pair, I couldn't justify tossing perfectly good, broken-in shoes AND spending a pretty penny ($186) for nearly identical clogs.

Contingent upon being hired at the museum, I was given a short list of places where I could use a special Art Institute employee discount, and on my newly formulated bucketlist, I'd like to try my darndest to hit every place on that list. In addition to free entry to most Chicago Museums (as well as MoMA, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and anywhere I ask and wave my ID), there are small businesses near the museum campus where I can use a discount; one of them being Ace Shoe Clinic in the basement of 55 East Monroe.

I packed up my sorry looking clogs, took them across the street, and did my best not to be too ashamed or disgusted by how worn and gross they appeared. The shoe man, took a look at them, clicked his tongue, wrote me a ticket, and told me to come back the following Wednesday. I waited with abated breath, and was shocked and pleased with the result. For $34, I was given my babies back, looking fresh as ever, and ready to be taken for another year of walking and exploring.

My clogs are already broken in and look brand new!!

I feel pretty awesome about this experience overall, and happy to have found that given a little bit elbow grease and the right resources, I didn't have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a new pair of shoes, when I had a perfectly good pair that were able to be resoled - all while supporting local business! Everyone, before you toss something you love, take a minute to decide if it really needs to be thrown away, or if it is something worth rescuing!! We live in a time when new things come with a very short shelf life, which allows us to dispose of them readily without any thought. Not only are we creating massive amounts of waste, but we are also throwing money out the door!

18 July 2012

The Art of Fielding

You guys, I read a book about baseball - and I actually liked it. But the thing is, this book wasn't so much a book about baseball as it was a book about college, drama, and sex - which added just the right amount of spice to the rather -ahem- boring sport we like to refer to as the great American past time. While I will admit that I tended to skim over the parts of the book that explicitly described play-by-plays of baseball games, I will acknowledge that utilizing the sport of college baseball as a framework for storytelling was one of the unifying factors of this book. Baseball is what cemented the characters together, as well as a mutual love for the institution of a tiny Mid-Western college campus. I couldn't imagine the story without baseball, like the characters in the story couldn't imagine a life without Westish College.

As a recent graduate from a tiny Mid-Western college myself, a piece of my heart will always remain in Galesburg, Illinois roaming the worn halls of Old Main, baiting rivalries with Monmouth College, pledging sisters in the Kappa House, walking the weathered brick paths through campus. Every passing day away from Knox a small part of me yearns to return, sometimes wondering if those really were the best years of my young life. I, like Mike Schwartz and President Affenlight, can't picture myself without Knox College. Though I was reluctant to leave upon graduating, I knew that in the grand scheme of things, my time at Knox might have ended geographically, but that I would always carry that great school on the prairie with me, wherever I went.

Author Chad Harbach expertly creates the bubble-like space so reminiscent of my own experience at Knox, it was hard for me to put the book down. A tiny campus yields itself to a special dynamic in which it is possible for college presidents and professors to have intimate relationships with their students. In which coaches look on to their athletes as peers and colleagues. Where no matter your interest or background, whatever you are truly passionate about becomes the determining factor in the kind of person you become while living, working, and growing on campus.

Nearly every major character in this book goes through some sort of a nervous breakdown, and seeing how they base their sense of self and stability off of the very existence of such a magical place as Westish College, it comes as no surprise to me that my own admiration for my alma mater strengthened my love of this book as well as my love of my school. While we might not always know where our homes are, it's incredibly reaffirming to know that we always have a place to call our own - whether it's fictional or real, it will always be there. For me, that place is Knox College. For Henry, Mike, Pella, Owen, and Guert, it was Westish. 

And on that note, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite Beach Boys songs. BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL!

10 July 2012

A Relaxing Evening with Friends

Saturday night, in the midst of my glamorous weekend of cat-sitting, I had the dear Moriah over for BBQing and homemade ice cream making. God bless the Internet - within a minute of googling, we had a recipe in mind, and in a flash we set to work making a grocery list. Mo and I shopped, tried wine, picked up only the necessities (I managed to justify buying triple cream brie) and headed home.

Let me just say that it is an absolute treat to work in the kitchen with someone who loves food and is as adept at food prep and eating as Moriah is. We started the ice cream, chilled it, made kabobs, started the grill, and had the ice cream in the machine in under an hour. Though we might have partially failed at getting the grill started, Spencer was an absolute whiz at it, and generously grilled our food for us. Basically, we had a feast fit for kings, ate out on the patio, and had the ability to relax and enjoy each others company to the tune of Tim McGraw playing as Soldier Field no less. By the time we were done with our dinner, the ice cream was ready. Nothing better than perfect timing, amirite?

 Here are some photos of our amazing meal!
He's full of surprises and secretly great at grilling!
Owned it.
Fancy feast with @moriahsmidwest
  DAMN GOOD HOMEMADE ICE CREAM!! @moriahsmidwest

I'm an Old Fart

You guys, I think it's official - I've reached serious "Old Fart" status. I know being a cat lady is very in vogue right now, but I don't have a cat. Patterns in my recent hobbies and behaviors have led me to believe that I fit into a demographic somewhere between middle-aged and just plain old fart. I made a list of some of the activities that I was a little too excited about that no other 24-year-old should be this excited about. Here's the big reveal, and please, don't judge me too harshly.

-Cashed bonds from 1999. They hadn't fully appreciated, but it was a fun -ahem- Saturday morning activity.
-Had a vintage dress tailored to fit my tiny little old lady body.
-Took my clogs to be resoled. Used a work discount for said clogs.
-Took out two self-help books from the Harold Washington Library.
-One of the books I took out is by the Dalai Lama.
-Haggled over a late fee at said library. That book was not late.
-Became very excited about my salad carrier from the Container Store.
-Learned how to make my own ice cream.
-Purchased SPF 55 sunscreen.
-Going to bed around 9:30 or 10:00 pm every night.
-Packing my lunch the night before.
-I prefer loose pants to skinny jeans.
-Taking myself to see Singing in the Rain.
-I still don't know what Skrillex is.

06 July 2012

This Weekend

-Katy Perry: Part of Me in 3D with Spencer and Rob
-Making homemade ice cream with Moriah
-Reading more of The Art of Fielding
-Having my first dress tailored (!)
-Begin major closet clean-out project
-Tracking down and breaking-in my Saltwater sandals