28 February 2014

This Weekend

Cheers to the freakin' weekend! This week wasn't too much of a beast to get through, but I am not complaining about having the next two days to eat popcorn, watch movies, fan girl over Wes Anderson, and maybe even finish putting my laundry away... now there's a thought!

- Tonight Andrew and I are going for BBQ and then headed to the Music Box for the screenings of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore (Viva Wes Anderson!)
- Tomorrow we will be spending much of the day on the Northside (waddup Southport Corridor!) before getting in line for the VIP pre-screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel with a Q&A featuring... WES ANDERSON! Hopefully we will have some time to stop by Julius Meinl for a cookie and coffee, as well as check out some of the boutiques in the neighborhood or grab a pint of Magner's at the cute Irish pub next door.
- Sunday, aside from watching the Oscars, we are doing lamb stew dinner at my Dad's and I will be making a crisp with peaches and blueberries from Michigan this summer (take that you terrible terrible winter!)
- Putting the next layer of gesso on my blank canvas
- More True Detective, y'all!

Losing Myself in Rijo

Stretching canvas

Last night I stretched a canvas for the first time since 2010. I took several painting courses in college, and remember wanting to kick myself for not taking a painting class sooner. On our first day of Introduction to Painting, we were taught how to stretch our own canvases, and I thought the methodical process of wedging, hammering, stapling, and pulling was so invigorating and numbing, I could do it over and over enjoying every step for how basic and simple it was. 

Paul Feely, Rijo, 1963, acrylic on canvas
Back in July I promised Andrew that I would make him a reproduction of Paul Feely's Rijo, a painting we were both drawn to on our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I promised, and I wanted to make good on that promise, but life got in the way. I quit my job. I found a new job. I moved to a new apartment. I studied for the GRE. I took the GRE. And all the while, in the back of my head was a nagging voice telling me paint that painting. I bought the supplies a month ago, and for some reason (The Goldfinch, the cold, Breaking Bad), I put off stretching the canvas. Last night, after a particularly trying workout, I just decided F-it. I am going to stretch that canvas and paint it with the first layer of gesso if it's the last thing I do. And I did it. All of the things my hands were taught to do all those years ago came back to me so naturally, so organically, that I could have stretched this canvas in my sleep. I went to bed dreaming about the canvases I want to stretch and the paintings I want to make feeling excited and fulfilled by the prospect of the blank canvas. Only two more layers of gesso to add before I can really get to work, losing myself in the burnt orange and sky blue of Rijo.

27 February 2014

I Am Not a Sheep

I have been going to Pitchfork Music Festival since it started here in Chicago back in 2005 when it was called Intonation Festival (I am getting old). And I'll tell ya with complete honesty, because this blog is a "safe space" that for a majority of the hours spent at the festival, I hadn't a clue as to who I was seeing, what I was doing, or what was even going on. You read that correctly. I have been shelling out hundreds of dollars to this festival, and have maybe spent a handful of time at the show enjoying performances. In truth, I was going to "see and be seen," catching up with lots of out-of-town friends, drinking (sup Sparks, watermelon lemonade, endless flasks), stuffing my maw with black bean burgers and corn dogs, whizzing in Porto-O-Johns and generally disliking the entire experience.

Me  in 2011 drinking beer whilst whizzing in a bikini top and flowing "Pitchfork" skirt. Ugh.
After nearly a decade of this nonsense, I have decided it must come to an end. No, I'm not not attending. Rather, I am reclaiming Pitchfork one band at a time. That's right. I am systematically listening to every single band in the lineup and deciding whether or not I want to see them. In educating myself, I am breaking out of my habit of playing a sheep, being herded by my flask-wielding friends. I'm not going to spend my money or time at the festival unconstructively for the first time ever, and can I just say this is incredibly empowering? I'm sampling music, learning about bands, deciding what I like for myself, and doing it with just the right amount of structure. Everyone should do this, or maybe every type-A person attending a music festival should do it?

Let's just say that I am currently obsessed with DIIV, Circulatory System, the Julie Ruin, and Beck's new album. I'm a little hesitant to dive into hip hop and electronic, because those are both out of my comfort zone, as you can see on my chart. Funny right? Out of curiosity, anyone else on the blogosphere attending? Any bands you would recommend or not recommend from the list thus far?

Thanks, and happy listening!

24 February 2014

House Museums, Galleries, Potstickers, and Tunes

Hello Monday. And the aforementioned Monday would repeat, "Hello Sandy." Well Monday, I'm here, I've arrived, and now that the weekend is over, I have so much to tell you, my excitement is practically seeping from my pores. This weekend was one of "those" weekends, where everything you do and encounter seems to hold some hidden meaning. I spent most of Saturday in the West Loop wandering around the UIC campus, attending an artist talk, visiting the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, attending an art opening, drinking free gallery wine, you know the usual stuff.

Jane Addams Hull House Museum library salon, can I live here, please?
Jane Addams Hull House Museum

The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is quickly moving up my list of amazing spaces in Chicago. A building loaded with history, not just in the physical sense, but in the historical realm as well. Co-founded in 1889 by the house's namesake, Jane Addams, the space was created as a destination for newly arrived European immigrants to convene around the fundamental principle of community engagement. By 1911, the campus had grown to encompass 13 buildings, from an arts building, to a medical facility, and even a summer camp - the settlement embodied nurturing community and equality to its core. It's pretty amazing to imagine what this neighborhood looked like in it's heyday.

The Great Space in UIC's arts building. Blank walks, studio space, so much possibility!
After my visit to the Hull-House, I attended a lecture at Gallery 400 in which the artist Kendall Geers unveiled the mysticism and magic behind Marcel Duchamp. Bridging on conspiracy theory, Geers utilized art history and works of art from Da Vinci, Durer, Picabia, Poussin, and Maya Deren to point out underlying truths about the mystery of Duchamp's work, and imply that he might have been a spy in Europe during the first and second world wars. The presentation had over 200 slides, was loaded with names, dates, facts, and figures, referenced both the movie and historical event "Titanic," and had a complete sense of humor to it. I felt like I was listening to the plot of the next Dan Brown novel, only it was served up with wit and facts rather than paltry writing and fiction. Kendall, please finish writing your book so I can read it.

Jose Lerma show at Kavi Gupta
After the talk, I wandered around the West Loop with a new friend, and visited the Jose Lerma // Gloriosa Superba show at Kavi Gupta. Upon first glance, the large mirrored works looked like neon abstractions, but after closer or maybe further examination, we realized they were portraits in profile. It was one of those back-of-the-cereal-box aha! moments. We assumed the paintings were of famous presidents, one was clearly Abe Lincoln, another was obviously Washington. But in retrospect, and after speaking to a gallerist, we were proven wrong! In fact, the images were of the prominent Rothschild family. No matter, the wine was delicious, the show was fabulous, and my new friend and I had a wonderful conversation about the art market, galleries, employment in the art world, museum guards, Molly Soda, and quilting. Not too shabby.

Chinese feast with new like minded friends at Ed's Potsticker House on South Halsted
For dinner, we worked our way through plate after plate of delicious Chinese food at Ed's Potsticker House in Bridgeport. Two words: soup dumpling. Their xiao long bao are to-die-for. Hot and steamy, soupy and delicious, everything I wanted after an exhausting and chilly day in the city. Also, I went home with the world's best eggplant in tow. Must return soon.

Between Brains at Township
I ended my night at Township watching buds Between Brains play a fabulous albeit loud set, sipping Stiegel Radler and wishing it was summer. My ears might still be ringing, but they sounded super good. The banging of the drum felt like the beating of my heart - loud, proud, and full of promise. It was a great way to conclude a joy-filled day.

Seeing myself in a Jose Lerma painting at Kavi Gupta

21 February 2014

This Weekend

This week has been fairly quiet as far as work and socializing goes. I feel like the weather and I have collectively taken a deep breath, and things are finely calming down around here. I'm sure I'm speaking way too soon, and that things will totally become chaotic (and freezing) in the next week or so, but I'm definitely enjoying quiet moments like walking through melted snow puddles, reenacting our first date, chomping on wings and sipping Micheladas, going to bed early, packing my lunch, forever climbing the elliptical at the gym. This weekend holds so much potential, so much promise.

- Tonight Andrew and I are making this chicken pot pie and celebrating our one year with maybe a movie or Twin Peaks...
- Tomorrow I'll be in the West Loop. I'm attending the Kendell Geers and Rhoda Rosen artist talk at UIC, as well as visiting Gallery 400 and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. But I also intend on spending a meditative minute in the Turrell Skyspace on the UIC campus, followed by a trip to the Athenian Candle Co. for some good luck charms, checking out the Jose Lerma show at Kavi Gupta, and maybe even a Chicago Style Hot Dog at Carm's.
- Dinner at Ed's Pot Sticker House in Bridgeport.
- Tomorrow night I'll be at Township thrashing to Between Brains.
- Sunday is the best because it involves nothing. I hope to do some laundry, make a pot of something, and stretch that canvas I've been saying I would stretch for ages... Also maybe hanging more art on my walls. We shall see, the day is pregnant with possibility.

20 February 2014

One Year

Without getting too sappy or sentimental, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to a special someone who mustered up the courage to ask me to be his a year ago today. I remember we made a pot of chili in my Julia Child orange Le Creuset, we were in my studio apartment, and Otis Redding was playing. And here we are, a year later, still standing together. 

Andrew, thank you for a year of impromptu dates, thermos wine, hot wings and hot dogs, art openings, films, new recipes, new restaurants, football and hockey, farmer's markets, scrambled eggs, Micheladas and Rhinelanders, late night burritos, dog sitting, chicken liver mousse, trips to faraway places, museums, sushi, comedy shows, concerts, naps, camping, Instagramming, takeout and television. We've done so much, and yet, I feel like we still have so much left to do. There are still so many things on our Dating Spreadsheet and so many films on our To Watch Googledoc. Here's to another year. Let's travel someplace neither of us has been, and pick a new food group to become obsessed with.

XO, 'Bou.

18 February 2014

On to the Next One

I had a bit of good news on Friday regarding decisions from the Universe, future plans, and one big moment on my 2014 goals list. Something that has been on my mind since 2009 is going to be happening in the not-too-distant-future and will be projecting me to that place I know I need to be. I'm going to be using my head, heart, and hands in a completely different way, and I cannot wait. My apologies for being ultra vague... just trying to keep my big reveal in the realm of the secretive until all of my I's have been dotted and my T's have been crossed. If you're curious, feel free to text, email, or tweet me!

XO you lovely people. And as Jay-Z would say, ON TO THE NEXT ONE.

14 February 2014

This Weekend

Adorable Valentine's Display at Unison

Another week is over, and another weekend has arrived! I anticipate a fairly lazy weekend, but who knows if I'll be inspired to bake something challenging or hang some more art in my room and apartment? We shall see.

- Tonight Andrew and I are staying in for V-day. We have steaks marinating in the fridge (I am a control freak boss bitch who likes her meat properly marinated). We're also going to whip up a parsnip and potato mash, and roast these mushrooms. For dessert, Nutella banana bread with vanilla bean ice cream. 
- Tomorrow morning, we are waking up at 6:30 in the morning for brunch, bloodies, and the US vs. Russia hockey match. I am only agreeing to this for the couch/bed fort we will be making and the Bloody Mary I will be drinking. Also, bacon?
- Tomorrow afternoon, we are having an early dinner at Raw Bar (hello endorphin releasing oysters, get in my belly), followed by an evening of viewing amateur pornography with Dan Savage at the Music Box's Hump Tour screening. The night will probably end with us eating burritos in bed, cuz YOLO. 
- Sunday, baking this spinach strata and meeting friends for a pot luck brunch
- Making a pot of something followed by dinner with my family.

Do you have any awesome V-day plans? Do you prefer to stay in or go out? Are presents exchanged? Do you spend it with your friends or with a loved one? Do you absolutely hate it, or sort of love it?

All Is Full of Love

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my friends and people! 

I've been feeling pretty loving lately, surrounding myself with supportive and loving people, and doing more things in the pursuit of self-love. Between baking my heart into a big golden loaf of Nutella banana bread last night, staying in and reading a good book, doing an absurd amount of squats and push-ups, treating myself to some delicious lip balm, focusing on some future plans, I'd say I have self-love in the bag. As for everyone around me who has read a writing sample, written me a recommendation, asked about applications, ordered me take out, paid for my brunch, squeezed me fresh juice, took me out for dinner, invited me to art things, read my blog, sent me postcards, emails, and texts full of emojis... THANK YOU. I love you all very much, you know who you are, you are great, and you make waking up and getting out of bed this god-forsaken-winter worth it. Even if you are spending Valentine's Day without a lover, know that all is full of love. It's all around us, give a little, get a little.


13 February 2014

Happy Galentine's Day

Sending sweet precious love vibes to all of my lady friends. You inspire me every single day, with your blogs, and jobs, and side projects, and art making, and cooking and baking. I'm not going to name you here... but you know who you are - near and far, I love you all.

Now let's go eat some waffles, shall we?

A Taste of Summer

Welp, we are almost at the halfway marker for February - everyone's least favorite month. I think the last week is officially the straw that broke the camel's back. My nose is red and chapped, I'm tired of blowing it, my coat desperately needs to be dry cleaned, I'm pretty sure my Hunter boots are leaking, I am sick of my SmartWool socks, all of my tights have holes in them, and I am about to breakup with my space heater. But the good news is, spring is a little over a month away. The days are getting longer, it's no longer dark when I leave the office, and we might even be getting a day of 47 degree weather! Hay oh! Bust out the sunscreen and bikinis, Chicago.

In my desperate need to feel a little closer to summer, this morning I made myself a comforting breakfast of toast with goat cheese and Froehlich's tart cherry jam, a snack I ate over and over while vacationing in Michigan. Upon my first bite, I found myself at ease and warmed by the thought of summer. It's really not that far away, now is it? Now might be as good a time as any to bust out some of those summer preserves in your pantry, you'll feel yourself perking up at first bite, I promise.

12 February 2014

On Being Present // Neutral Milk Hotel

Jeff Mangum via Daniel Coston
So I achieved one of my bucket-list-goals. I saw Neutral Milk Hotel, and it was every bit emotional, moving, and wonderful as I had imagined it would be.

The sort of longing I felt having wanted to see them perform live was palpable at this point. I remember a fifteen year-old me, listening to Holland,1945 for the first time, spinning around my bedroom in circles, wanting to take trumpet lessons, wondering what a "concept album" was, trying desperately to decode the lyrics that might hold some key to map the record. I remember reading the In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 33 1/3 in hopes that some of the mystery surrounding this album and Jeff Mangum's reclusivity might be unlocked, bringing me closer to him and this music I loved. I remember that deep sinking deflated feeling that set upon me when I found out Neutral Milk Hotel was done, that they don't tour, and would not tour again. I remember comparing that very feeling to the way it made me feel learning at the tender age of four that John Lennon was dead, and the Beatles didn't perform together anymore. Utter and complete heartbreak and yearning.

And then, like some kind of miracle, Jeff Mangum came forward, the band was reunited, and they gave a performance that rocked me to my core. Seeing Jeff take the stage in his comfy oversized fair isle sweater, baseball cap, and bearded face, hearing him say hello, hearing that voice in the same room as little old me, it was humbling. He took the stage alone, a triumph for someone painfully shy, and began to play the familiar chords of The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1, just Jeff, encircled by a single spotlight. As he sang, and the song bled into The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3, the band quietly assumed their positions, horns, accordion, drums, all kicking into together - a moment so profound and beautiful, it gave me goosebumps. And again, a little later in the set, the band kicked in to play the haunting waltz in the latter half of Oh Comely, I found myself moved to tears. Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of how different I was when I first heard this album, and how much has changed in the last decade. All of it came rushing to me.

But beyond all of the feelings this show made me feel, there was one moment that stuck with me. After the second or third song, Jeff politely yet firmly requested the following, "Please, if everyone could put their phones and cameras away, and just be present with me in this moment." And then the unthinkable happened, we as an audience united in our presence. There were no photographs, there were no phones, just us aligned with the music, singing along with this voice we knew and loved so well. It was haunting and beautiful, comforting and calming, as we were swept away by his musical embrace.

07 February 2014

This Weekend

Hello all, and cheers to the freakin' weekend! It's been another cold week full of snow and griping - I feel like we've reached that point where everyone wants to give the finger to Punxsutawney Phil as we slowly lose our sanity to the worst winter in two decades. I consoled myself last night with the thought that the next time one of these terrible-awful-no-good-once-in-20-years winters roles around, I will be 45, either living in a place that doesn't get this cold, or that I will be living in a place with excellent heating. Either way, it's a win win.

Anywho, this weekend is going to be fun and productive, I can already feel it.

- Tonight, I am fulfilling a dream / crossing another big one from my bucket list, I'm seeing Neutral Milk Hotel at the Riviera tonight! I've been listening to them all day (and also for the last decade) to prep for this epic night
- Tomorrow I am getting my hair cut at Penny Lane. I'm in desperate need. Thinking about this... or maybe this?
- Dinner at the Chicago Diner with some of my people
- Jurying art for a show this summer (very excited about this!)
- Making valentine's for the special someones in my life
- Making this BBQ sauce from scratch as a means to prep for BBQ Night on Monday, and Pizza Night on Tuesday
- Reading more of The Goldfinch!
- Washing our shower curtains... gross :)

06 February 2014

Top Six Picks: January 2014

Holy cats, is it really February 6th?! January, for being a month that has 31 days in it (there should be a name for these months), a month pregnant with the force of polar vortices and a sh*tton of snow, you sure came and went very quickly. And for that, I say bless you.

January was a challenging month, but a good one none-the-less. I spent a long weekend in LA, and I think I want to make it an annual tradition to go someplace warm and sunny if only for a long weekend - every year from here on out. I think this was the most productive post-graduate January to date. I read, I slept, I worked out a bit, I baked a layer cake, I ate tacos, I finished something that was big and weighing on me for years. I feel very very very positively about how I spent my time, and I'm ready to high-five the heck out of February.

Here are the things I loved the most about January:

Kanye West // Bound 2
I live under a rock, and then I discovered Bound 2. I am amazed by how uncool I can be sometimes. For example, I still have not watched the Beyonce music video album, and I didn't know what/who Lorde was until that ship had already sailed. And now here I am, just discovering this song, weeks after Sirs Franco and Rogan have already spoofed it. But OMFG I cannot get enough of this song, or this video. It's weird, and tropey, and aggressive, and yet I find is incredibly romantic.

Tortilla Soup via The Kitchn
Hi, it's cold out. I like soup, and it's all I want to eat. I made this tortilla soup a few weeks ago, and am basically addicted. For starters, it tastes good and combines two things I love. Chips and soup. Additionally, it's easy to make. Third of all, it uses an ingredient I have never used before - chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - and I am obsessed. If you eat turkey or chicken, I highly recommend. I'm still brainstorming how to make this soup vegetarian... any suggestions for protein are welcome.
Squeeze that lime on via The Kitchn
Michael Rakowitz: The Breakup at Rhona Hoffman Gallery
This was, without a doubt, one of the best exhibitions I've been to in the last year. The Breakup examines the breakup of The Beatles down to the very minutiae found in rare footage, moments in their final albums, and other source material. Rakowitz employs the tools of a cartographer to literally map out the events that led up to demise of the Fab Four, which is put on display in various media at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Rakowitz juxtaposes the unification and breakup of Syria and Egypt with the eerily similar time frame that mirrors the rise and fall of the Beatles. There is also a documentary that accompanies the show, in an upstairs viewing room. If you have the time to view the entire film, I highly suggest.

There will be a gallery talk at 3 PM on February 15th, please attend!

I just popped in Lush to pick up a treat for a friend, and wound up walking about with a little treat for myself. I'm a true believer in the Honey Trap lip balm, so much so, that sometimes I slather it on my dry wintry nose. It smells so good, it's so hydrating, and they recently reformulated the balm to melt onto your lips/skin in a more even way. I don't leave the house without this trusty treat in my pocket.
via Lush
Breaking Bad
I know. One of my 2014 goals was to continue the Seinfeld Vlog, conquering Seinfeld one-day-at-a-time. But then I succumbed to Breaking Bad, and boy am I deep. I am three episodes in to the final season, and as Miley would say, we can't stop. What the hell is happening? How is a show about meth this good? Bryan Cranston, I just can't! How is it going to end? NO SPOILERS PLEASE! 
Via Mashable.com
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (LA)
Andrew and I went to a Sunday night show of Shut Up! I Hate You! at UCB LA. The show is a panel of comedians talking about crazy stories in the media. It sort of reminded me of Who Charted meets Wait Wait Don't Tell me, but with a little more pzazz. It was so fun, and we even had a celebrity sighting! Jason Mantzoukas was on the panel, and we laughed and laughed and laughed. Also, it was across the street from the Celebrity Scientology Center which was strange and awesome. 
via TVBlogster

05 February 2014

Being an "Art Worker"

Gerhard Richter, Two Candles, 1982.
via Cave to Canvas
When I parted ways with the Art Institute, I firmly believed that I didn't need to work in the arts to be close to the arts. That I could pursue my passion for art in ways that were different than my career choices, opting to try a line of work, though still related to fundraising, that was not so closely aligned with my true passion for arts and culture. Reflecting on my last five months in my current role as a researcher at a consulting firm, I have gleaned, that a big part of me is yearning to assume my place in the art world. Lately, I find myself happiest when I am reading about art / exhibitions, viewing art / exhibitions, and talking about art / exhibitions. It has become so clear to me that my passion for art cannot be snuffed out.

So how do I negotiate this you ask? I can't exactly pour ashes over the fire and turn my back on what I know makes me happy - that's not my style. As my father likes to say, "Guttmans never quit" - and ain't that the truth? Rather than walk away from a piece of me that is flickering within my core, I am slowly feeding my burgeoning flame the kindling it needs to grow into a sweltering hot house that was the Great Chicago Fire, that is my alma mater's mascot, the Prairie Fire, and that maybe one day could be the flame of my future.

How I negotiate this yearning, this aching desire, is up to me. Lately, I've been pursuing art in my spare time. Visiting art openings around the city, taking my time when I walk through museum exhibitions to read every didactic plate, attending artist lectures, and reading every article the Internet has presented me (kids crawling on Donald Judd sculptures, Obama hatin' on Art History majors, the Molly Soda art appropriation "scandal") knowing full well that I am on my way to attaining fulfillment in my work with every effort (big or small) I make to get closer to this thing I love so intimately.

I attended a talk last night, given by the curator and "art worker," Dieter Roelstraete of the MCA. His discussion of the art world in terms of status gave way to the idea of those in the art world as being "art workers" or "art laborers" - that every role is important. From artist, to curator, to critic, to viewer, each role needs to work in tandem with another. That art cannot exist without the viewer, that the curator and critic cannot exist without the artist, brings about the point that the art world, while driven by status, is actually driven by the symbiotic relationship of these "art workers".

A person plainly asked him, how does one become a curator? To which he quite candidly responded:
One must take in a broad range of experiences. To learn to curate is a practice in looking. See as many exhibitions as you can, take stock of what you see.

So here I am. Pursuing the art world from the "outside" working my way back in. Initially as a viewer, maybe a small part as an artist, and one day as curator and critic. I savor ever moment I have with a work on view, cherishing the experience for the singularity of it. Reflection on viewing is part of attaining fulfillment for me, and I have a feeling my reflections have only just begun.