Av and Leslie and I went to the Magic City Art Connection on Friday. It was a *beautiful* day to be out.
There were lots of schoolchildren there, and many hands-on activities for them. We liked seeing the sculpture project that area high schools took part in - this one was from several students at Erwin High School:
This one was good:
And this one I thought was especially neat - by students at the Altamont School:
We haven't been in a couple of years, so we got to see a few new people exhibiting, and visited with people who are there every year. Chris Clark's space was busy, Martha Beadle - who I first saw at the Jerry Brown Festival in Hamilton - was there, I really, really liked Merrilee Challiss' art, Mr. Hooper was there again this year, we also spent time in the booths of Dale Lewis, Asia Mathis, and Kreg Yingst. We wound up getting things from two different artists:
One is this 'prayer tower' by Holden McCurry. The minute I saw it, I knew that he was familiar with the church in Port Gibson - the First Presbyterian Church, with the hand pointing upward (my pic of the church here). I love that! We talked about it for a few minutes - I got this one, and Leslie got two others.
Inside each of the towers is a little slip of paper, which is meant for the owner to write his/her prayer or wishes:
We got this yad from Brian Bergner, who came here from Israel - isn't it great? We loved how the hand is a hamsa:
...and the bottom is a clear tube with the blessing before the reading.
AND we got this amazing mezzuzah!
We missed Panoply in Huntsville this year (and a couple of other festivals we would have really liked to see), but Av's allergies were acting up and we didn't want him to be sick for days, so this weekend is going to mostly be inside...away from icky pollen!
Av and Leslie and I went to the Magic City Art Connection on Friday. It was a *beautiful* day to be out.
After we left the Sucarnochee Folk Life Festival last weekend in Livingston, we headed over to Faunsdale, where they were having their annual crawfish festival. On the way, we saw this pretty church with a historic marker in front - it's the Bethlehem Baptist Church:
The historic marker reads:
In 1867 a group of African American men and women laid the foundations for Freetown. William, John, Albert, George, Richard, and Peter Collins; Susan and Lawrence Moore; Thomas Jeffries; the children of John Jeffries; and Louisa Conway and her children received over six hundred acres of land in the will of John Collins, a local planter who had migrated from Virginia to Alabama in 1837. The early residents included former slaves and free people of color. Many of the men were skilled masons and carpenters, including Peter Lee and John Glascow who directed the construction of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Gallion. Freetown residents helped organize Bethlehem Baptist Church in 1867.
The other side continues:
Freetown became a vibrant community and residents achieved local prominence. The settlement reached its peak in the 1920s as part of Allenville. Brown's general store established around 1910 became the major commercial center and social hub. Women from the community were among the first teachers in the area's African American schools. Some Freetown children received primary and secondary education as boarding students at Selma University. The community’s population declined after World War II as African Americans migrated to northern and southern cities. Residents and their descendants over time became skilled workers, professionals, and active members of communities elsewhere, while maintaining strong ties to Freetown.
While we were there, we played with this pretty little lizard for a couple of minutes.
He liked riding on Av's shirt - we finally had to put him back down so we could leave! :)
There are *so* many things going on this weekend that I would *love* to be at.
First of all, Jazzfest. I would go just to see the Allen Toussaint set with Elvis Costello at on Sunday.
Second, the mullet toss at the FloraBama.
Also: Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham, Panoply in Huntsville, the Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford, the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburgh TN, and the World's Biggest Fish Fry in Paris TN.
I got my first issue of the new Martha Stewart magazine, Blueprint, on Monday. I've been waiting for this magazine since they first announced it - it's supposed to be aimed toward my age group - so I was hoping it would be full of great decorating and cooking, maybe some crafting, and all that.
Av had a couple of events to attend last night, so I curled up on the couch and read the whole thing (while sneaking peeks at American Idol).
The editor's letter starts out by saying, "...we felt there wasn't a magazine that covered everything we're interested in - a magazine that included real solutions and ideas for improving our lives, our homes, even our shoe wardrobes."
Well, they really did put a little of *everything* in this issue.
One of the first things is a recipe for a 'Blueprint Martini'. This is the caption next to the drink's picture:
"Show us a magazine without a signature drink, and we'll show you an uptight staff without priorities. (hiccup!)"
(...which makes me think, "Blueprint, you don't have to try so hard to be hip! It's okay!")
There are features about doing house numbers with decals, makeup colors for the season, dance-inspired shoes, a tai chi primer, making large-size prints for framing and decorating, vitamins, scanners, camp-inspired decorating, a home makeover with new furniture and paint, health food, storage, buying a sofa, jewelry charms, a white-interior home, summer dresses appropriate for the office (including a $1850 Vera Wang puffy-sleeve black dress), party supplies, bedtime health treatments, turning a scarf into a bag, new books and movies, manners, what to do in Paris, and an article about eavesdropping.
To be completely honest, it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I think they went so far with the 'we can be a resource for so many aspects of your life' - which on the surface is commendable and the mix of articles sounds fun - that they never did any one thing really great.
Parts of the magazine were "Budget Living" and others were like a 'Swell' book (like in the manners section, where it advises that it's right if you're carrying a backpack to be 'watching where you're going' and wrong to be 'slamming into strangers like a reckless Quasimodo'....um, doesn't everybody know that?). If you buy a decorating magazine, chances are you're not going to like every single decorating feature - but there will be so many that you'll most likely find something you like. Same thing for a fashion magazine, or any of the other more focused magazines.
There wasn't too much of the content that I thought I would really use, but I'm still looking forward to the next issue, coming out August 28th.
This past weekend, Av and I drove over to Livingston for the Sucarnochee Folklife Festival, which was held on the courthouse lawn.
There were demonstrations of poured castings:
People selling quilts, art, baked goods, pottery, baskets, brooms, and other things:
Jerry Brown was there too.
Food vendors set up, and kids had fun checking on these crawfish:
Bands playing (most everyone was sitting under the shade of a big magnolia on the right):
One of the food vendors was selling fried oreos, so Av tried them (I have to admit, I don't even really like oreos, but I had a bite and it wasn't bad.):
This is a picture of what the town is building on the courthouse lawn for their bored well. The well, bored with the help of an old blind mule back in the mid-1800s, has supplied mineral water and according to my WPA book, "has been drunk for its curative powers by generations of Alabamians. Former residents have such faith in its ingredients that they send for it repeatedly during illness."
It was a really pretty day to be out. We only got to stay a little while because we had been invited to an event back home that evening - so we missed Kathryn Tucker Windham and the Alabama Blues Project events, but we still had a great time!
Project Alabama has opened an online shop at their site - half with clothes, including a neat Hollywood Inn tshirt and a red wrap top with sequin letter badge - and the other half with items like a $750 pillow and an American flag quilt.
The site also has a catalog of the new designs, this season influenced by roses. Alongside pictures of the clothes are ideas about how to use and enjoy roses, and memories/stories. I was a little surprised to see that one of the pieces is about 'intertwangle', a term that Butch Anthony (the author of one of the stories) developed and uses in his artwork.
Another new section is the Project Alabama journal, which discusses how to iron properly, gives a chocolate pie recipe, and shows how to make reverse-applique tea towels and t-shirt.
Av and I were driving back from Livingston and Faunsdale, and we heard a spot on 'All Things Considered Weekend' with John T. Edge being interviewed about the Hot Tamale Trail. It was a nice segment...and when I got home, I saw that the Southern Foodways Alliance has set up a website for it here.
Although there are a *ton* of places that have been left out (it would be impossible to list them all - or even just the really great ones), the Tamale Trail site has listed 38 tamale places inside the Delta, about 1/3 of which we've been to. Our favorite tamales have come from Scott's in Greenville (and our least favorite at Giardina's in Greenwood, although I like a lot of the other things Giardina's serves). I'm going to make a note of any they list that we might want to try next time.
The pic below is of tamales we had at Airport Grocery in Cleveland.
Also at the site are some of the oral histories they've done, a documentary that will be released Fall of 2007 called 'They're Red Hot', and a recipe. I may make a batch of my own tamales (close, but not exactly their recipe) later this week - so if I do - I'll post it.
I picked this gourd birdhouse two or three years ago - I believe that these particular ones (with wings) are made by an artist in Mississippi. Lately, a pretty little Carolina Wren has been busy building her nest, and most recently, feeding her chicks here.
She makes trip after trip back to the birdhouse, always with a worm or some insect in her beak. She also sings and chirps a *lot*, very loudly, even at night.
One of Av's professors from high school opened a rare and first edition bookstore a few years ago, and inside amongst all the books, he featured a couple of kinetic sculptures on the walls. They really fascinated me, because I'd never seen anything like them - they were beautiful and calming and....just one of those things to just hang around to watch for a while.
The artist - David C. Roy - who made those pieces, has his website here.
His website shows the different designs he's come up with, and has an animation so you can see what the pieces look like when they're running. The animation for the one above is here.
I also really like Tom Haney's artwork - he makes these really original pieces that move or dance with pushes of a simple lever. I've seen him at a few shows, and he's always really good about showing everyone how everything works, etc. Very nice. He's going to be at Kentuck later this year.
A company in the UK sells these very simple kits to make animated pieces from paper - some of them are *so* cute!
About four years ago, Av and I purchased this piece from Bud & Suzi Richards (from Springville, AL) at the Bluff Park Art Show. It represents a 1864 report that Bud found about a spying soldier during the War who was wearing a flying contraption. It was the first automata piece they'd made, and we didn't waste any time getting it. They show our flying man on their website, but I think they got our story a little confused because although we were there with Av's parents (we go with them every year to it), we totally bought it for *us*, not as a gift (...and it would have been a Chanukah gift, anyway!)! hahahaha!!
Av and I stopped in Boaz Saturday night at the Sand Mountain Drive In - it was the first time I'd been to a Drive In since I was in second or third grade, and was the first time *ever* that Av had been to one! I didn't even realize that until I asked him just now when the last one he went to was, and he said this was his first - I just figured that *everybody* over the age of....um....twenty-five? thirty? had been to one at some time.
Anyway, it was fabulous! We drove in - this theater has two screens, and we chose the one playing 'Ice Age 2'. The movie cost $10 (it's a charge per car, not per person) and we were given a ticket and a sheet with all the snack foods they were serving. To listen to the movie, you just put your radio on 103.3 FM.
We were in the Volvo, so we rolled down all the windows and opened the sunroof all the way....it was such nice night to watch a movie! The people on the right side of us were in a big SUV, and they put out those folding chairs that people sit in at games (the nylon-seated chairs that you can fold up into a bag), and brought food to munch on during the movie. The people to the left of us were in a big pickup truck, and they were sitting in the bed of the truck on chairs and had a big cooler full of things. I think it would be really neat for next time to do it all the way -- to make a special supper, picnic-style, and do it up really nice.
During the summer, Av and I like to go to Chastain in Atlanta - it's this *wonderful* amphitheater where people reserve their space and either bring in or *have catered* their table at the concert (complete with full-course meals, tablecloths, candles, etc). One sample picture of how people set up at the concerts is here. It's really beautiful when it's dark and the candlelight from all the tables lights up the theater. This year, they're holding a lot of concerts I'd love to see - especially Anita Baker, Fiona Apple, and Lyle Lovett.
Anyway, I love to see shows outside. I just did a search on amphitheaters:
In Alabama there is one - Verizon Music Center in Birmingham.
In Georgia there are four - Chastain and HiFi Buys (they've got Jimmy Buffet on June 2!) in Atlanta, The Fred in Peachtree City, and Mable House in Mableton.
In Louisiana there aren't any.
In Mississippi there aren't any.
In Tennessee, there is one - Starwood Amphitheatre just outside Nashville.
....if I missed any that you know of, please email me. Thanks!
About a week or so ago, we stayed one evening at the Hilton Garden Inn in Montgomery. This was our first visit there, and the hotel seemed nice. We were upgraded to one of their suites and the basic breakfast was included.
This hotel is situated inside one of Montgomery's corporate parks, and it was pretty empty the weekend we stayed there (since I guess most of their business is M-F). Here are some pics of our room:
The breakfast that was served was *much* nicer than usual. For about $2-$3 extra, you can upgrade to the hot breakfast that they serve (the grits they served were soooo good).
When we made this reservation, we checked to see how much the other hotels were in Montgomery - there was one Hampton that was about $25 *more* than this hotel - we were definitely glad that we chose this Hilton Garden Inn.
Yesterday we went to the Huntsville Stars game - they were playing the Barons. It was *perfect* weather for a mid-afternoon game.
The strange thing was that the box office was selling (by accident) duplicates of tickets they had already sold - so we had the exact same tickets as these other people that were sitting where we were supposed to have been also. The same thing happened to some people behind us, too.
We let the gentleman who helps people in our section find their seats know, and he was supposed to get it straightened out...we told him we didn't really care which seats we were in just as long as we didn't have to play musical chairs every time someone new showed up. As it turned out, the other seats we went to were just fine.
There weren't very many other people at the game, and we were sitting so close to the field that we could hear the players talking, which was neat.
This is the Stars' mascot, Homer - he's a polecat!
We had a great time at the game, and the Stars won! Yay!
In March, when I bought one of Penny McAllister's paper mache pieces (which I'm still in love with) I started looking on the internet at how things like that are made. Many people use chocolate moulds (or chocolate molds) to base their design on, by pressing the paper mache mixture into the sides of a mold. When I did a search on eBay for a chocolate mold I could play around with, I saw that some people were selling chalkware that was made that way - that you could take plaster of paris, pour it into a chocolate mold, and a few minutes later you would have a 3-d model of whatever shape it was.
I bought these three chocolate molds from some very nice people in Belgium, and received this little chicken family in less than a week!
First, I'll start with what I used:
plaster of paris (and water to mix it in)
disposable cup or little bucket to mix the plaster of paris in
a chopstick or something else to stir it with
newspaper to help stabilize the upside-down molds
clips to help hold the mold shut
cups (or anything) to help hold the mold upside-down
paint (I used the cheapy folkart paint at Michael's)
foam brush for the paint
I found these cups that were about the right size for the molds (the purple ones were presents!):
Next, I put the clips all around the closed mold so there hopefully wouldn't be any leaks. My plaster of paris box said to just briefly run some water inside each mold to make it easier to get the finished piece out of the mold, so I did that:
I stuffed paper underneath and around each of the molds in the cups so they would be steady and even when the plaster of paris was poured in. Then I just mixed the plaster of paris. It really does set in 20-30 minutes, so have everything ready to go.
I just poured the plaster into each mold right up to the top (if it goes over, it's not bad - you can just pull it off the outside later). Pour it a little at a time and try to pop or avoid any bubbles. The important thing here is to make sure it's even:
After an hour, they were all ready to come out of the molds. Here's the first one out - the little chick-a-dee:
They were all really easy to pop out.
Now you can either take sandpaper and sand down the mold line, or do like I did and just make them even. For this time, I decided I liked them looking a little more 'industrial'.
Before painting, at least 24 hours needs to go by after unmolding to make sure the pieces are completely dry.
I just super-watered-down some of the folkart paint, and applied one color to each of the chickies:
Once the first coat of paint was dry, I applied some pearlescent paint. They look really different now, stalking Krispy Kreme:
Saturday night, we were in town for the Montgomery Biscuits game against the Tennessee Smokies. The stadium is really nice:
The weather was *perfect* and the game was really good.
One of the really nice things was that boys from a little league team got to go out on the field before the game and get baseballs signed by the Biscuits players who play the same position.
Here's the Biscuits mascot, Big Mo. (I like their mascot that looks more like a biscuit because he's so cute, but I guess it's only Big Mo that moves through the stadium.)
There was a little fireworks show right after the game that was really nice, too.
AND...I got some great news yesterday. More about that later! :)