Hand-Painted In Crawford

Posted by ginger On Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Crawford, Mississippi:

Crawford, Mississippi
"No Drugs, No Gamblin, No Fighting"

...and at the liquor store on the next block:
Crawford, Mississippi

Hand-drawn signs for Crown Royal and Gin:
Crawford, Mississippi


Posted by ginger On Tuesday, November 29, 2011

These signs are all around Gordo, Alabama.  The 'day is evil'?  Strange.  If you belonged to a church and wanted to get people to see things your way...well, if it were me, I'd take a sunnier, happier approach.

I think these are all put up by, or by someone affiliated with, the 'Fellowship of Jesus Christ' church there, in a somewhat low-slung, mossy green building.  Here we go:

Signs in Gordo

Signs in Gordo

Signs in Gordo

Signs in Gordo

Signs in Gordo


Posted by ginger On Monday, November 28, 2011

This summer when we drove through Waterloo, Alabama we saw the Trail of Tears plaque on the Tennessee River which gave information about how thousands of Cherokees had passed here on the Trail of Tears. Waterloo was a waystation where people had come from other areas to await steamboat passage for their eventual destination of Oklahoma.  During the War, Sherman crossed the river here and stayed a while in the town.
Waterloo, Alabama

Each year, there's a Trail of Tears Commemoration and Motorcycle Ride that begins in Chattanooga and ends in Waterloo.

Waterloo, Alabama

Waterloo, Alabama

...and when we passed the cemetery we saw this huge monument for Ezra Lee Culver:
Waterloo, Alabama
...which mentioned many of his accomplishments in spite of the fact that he had a fourth grade education.  He had developed an innovation with concrete and using that, took part in the construction of Yankee Stadium, the Planetarium in NYC, Lincoln Tunnel, the Waldorf-Astoria, General Motors Buildings in Flint, and the Florida Keys bridges, among others.

The National Park Service has a Trail of Tears site for driving directions, etc.

This Week's Various

Posted by ginger On Friday, November 25, 2011

The exhibit, "Drawing Pretty Pictures Is A Way To Meet G-d In The World Like It Is" at Visionary Growth Gallery in north Georgia featuring "Lois Curtis, a key figure in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that freed thousands of people institutionalized in mental hospitals and nursing homes" along with works by Carter Wellborn, Alpha Andrews, Betty Wansley, and Peter Loose. Through April 12.

What a fabulous whirligig at the American Folk Art Museum.

Doubleday Publishers has started the '#Literary Turducken' -- combining the titles of three different classic works of literature into a whole new entity.  Some of them are pretty good.

Turns out, homeless people in Charlotte are not big pimento cheese fans.

The Moline, Illinois post office is for sale and it houses a WPA / Section mural by Edward Millman entitled "Manufacture of Plowshares" -- "It hangs on a north wall of the post office at 514 7th St. and is to be reserved for public access, regardless of whomever buys the building."  Nice!

Smart, smart, smart: at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, their restaurant, the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, "enhances the museum experience by providing visitors the opportunity to enjoy the indigenous cuisines of the Americas and to explore the history of Native foods. The Cafe features Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains. Each of the five food stations depict regional lifeways related to cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavors found in both traditional and contemporary dishes."

Thank you for people who are who they are, even after they've left, from the Times-Picayune:  At the close of the service, the deacon stepped behind the pulpit and began an a capella rendition of KISS’s 1979 single “I Was Made For Loving You.” Some lyrics were subbed out: “I was made for loving you, baby” became “I was made for loving you, Jesus.” ...  Eventually, all in attendance joined in. Some sang the original lyrics; most simply filled in background vocals, clapped the beat, and drummed on the sides of the pews. The unplanned singalong may have been the most touching, and palpably emotional, moment in an unusual yet deeply honest tribute, and at the end, there was rock-concert level applause. A few friends held up the rock ’n’roll “devil horns” salute.  “Rock on, Nino!” somebody cried out.

Sotheby's sale of Important Judaica on December 14 includes the Manfred Anson (whom I've actually bought something small from before ages ago, on eBay of all places) famous Statue of Liberty menorah.


I've written about the Peter Sekaer exhibit at the International Center of Photography before, but I'm still trying to get over the perfection that is the image in 1936 at the phrenologist's window in New Orleans.  It's the exhibit's catalog cover.

The new Legoland that's being built to open in 2012 at Phipps Plaza in Atlanta has announced the ten city landmarks that will be created in Miniland and thankfully they include the Fox Theatre, the High, Stone Mountain, and the Varsity.

Susan Knecht's studio and gallery located at the new-ish Lowe Mill in Huntsville: chandeliers with squiggles.

Sacred Harp National Convention -- Dinner
There's a nice interview with the directors who made the documentary, Awake, My Soul about sacred harp singings here.  Above is a phone pic Av took of dinner from when we were at the National Convention this summer.

Can't wait to read the new book by Elizabeth Engelhardt published by the University of Georgia, A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food.  Part of this wonderful interview goes into Tomato Clubs:
How did Tomato Clubs empower young women back in the early 1900s?

In 1910, Marie Samuella Cromer, a young rural schoolteacher in the western South Carolina town of Aiken, organized a girls’ tomato club so that the girls would “not learn simply how to grow better and more perfect tomatoes, but how to grow better and more perfect women.” The tomato clubs and the women who organized them wanted southern food to transform Southern society — but not from the top down.

The girls had to plant one-tenth of an acre of tomatoes, which would provide more tomatoes than they or their families could use in a year. This forced them to learn how to can, market and sell them — and they could do whatever they want with the money. Glass jars were scarce, so they had to use big pieces of equipment to can tomatoes in tin. In order to finish a year in the Tomato Club, they had to write a report about how they harvested, presented and sold their tomatoes. It was a real lesson in technology, science and entrepreneurship.

Belle Chevre, the fantastic goat cheese dairy in Elkmont, Alabama is doing a Kickstarter project right now to raise $100k for new land with a custom facility.

For some reason, with all the baking I did this past week, I felt like the Cake Lady (at the NC Museum of Art) by Bob Trotman.  An exhibit of Bob's work begins at the Huntsville Museum of Art on December 4.

Just for fun: Department 56 has come out with a model of Chick-Fil-A.  They've already done a Krispy-Kreme building.

This home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Rockford, IL is going up for auction mid-December.  The most interesting part: FLW designed it to be completely wheelchair accessible.  From this article:

In his letter to Wright, Laurent noted, “To give you an idea of my situation, I must first tell you that I am a paraplegic. In other words due to a spinal-cord injury I am paralyzed from the waist down and by virtue of my condition I am confined to a wheelchair. This explains my need for a home as practical and sensible as your style of architecture denotes.”

Built 40 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act, every aspect of this home and its furnishings, from light switches to doorways to tables, was designed by Wright to keep obstructions to a minimum.

The Laurent House Foundation Board is trying to raise enough money to purchase the home and turn it into a museum.

Make plans now: 27th Annual Alabama Clay Conference is Feb 16-19, 2012 in B'ham.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by ginger On Thursday, November 24, 2011

At the Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville they have these great frames set up for family pictures!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Pies, Pies, Pies

Posted by ginger On Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This Year's Thanksgiving Pies
Done!  Twenty-six pies done before 1p today!

...but this gentleman in Arkansas has done 100 in a night, all different flavors!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let's Just Not

Posted by ginger On Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Used under Creative Commons.  Thank you, Christina!

This is a cherpumple.  Cher = cherry pie, pum = pumpkin pie, ple = apple pie, all from frozen, then encased in a cake mix.  It's just...wrong.  But not because I'm not a fan of the flavor combinations (I don't see how this could taste good together), but because of the list of ingredients.

Now, I love kitsch!  I'm the girl who made the marshmallow snowman one Chanukah!

Kitschy Snowman

...and I'm not anti-combination. We love turducken (I think this one we got at Rabideaux's)!

...and when I heard the idea of the Krispy-Kreme cheesecake, well:
Krispy Kreme Cheesecake
Just as an aside, it really wasn't so bad once you subtracted all the calories for a regular serving of cheesecake crust (if you calculate Carnegie Deli's recipe for crust and divide by 16 you get about 91 cal/serving) and instead tabulated the calories from 12 doughnuts (at 190 cal/per according to Krispy-Kreme divided among the same 16 servings, which is 142.5).  So in other words, making cheesecake with KKs as the crust adds 51.5 calories/serving to what you would otherwise be taking in.

With some other little exceptions (you know, nobody likes snooty people or people who let their food snobbery get out of control (who doesn't like a Reese's Cup for goodness sakes?) and I'll admit: crushed-up Nutter Butters make great peanut butter pie crust!) that's really about far as I'm willing to go.

...but the idea of buying three different frozen pies, three different cake mixes, and a tub of what's called 'cream cheese frosting' then putting it all together goes against all that is good in the world!  Av laughed and asked if I was going to have the vapors over all this (maybe!).

Do you fall out when you open a copy of Southern Living or Mississippi Magazine and the first ingredient in a recipe for something sweet specifies a box of cake mix?  Me too, friend.  Me too.

The cherpumple makes me wonder -- did the inspiration for a frozen pie(s) inside something else come from the 2002 Southern Living Cook-Off, when a recipe which included (get ready, y'all!) an entire frozen Mrs. Smith's pecan pie encased in cheesecake filling *won* First Place, Taste of the South?  Seriously, here's the recipe.

What will next year hold, do you think?

Whether you're serving Cherpumple or something entirely made from scratch, I hope you can laugh along with me and have a fabulous Thanksgiving!  xoxo!

Neon Perfection

Posted by ginger On Monday, November 21, 2011

Ellis Restaurant, Chattanooga TN

We saw this gorgeous neon over the weekend.  The Ellis Restaurant in downtown Chattanooga had been in business for decades when it closed in the late '70s.  If you look at the top -- see those neon frogs?  When animated, the frogs would jump from one side to the other.  Yesssss.

While this block obviously needs attention, just a block or two away, the city is having a resurgence of positive business activity.  And...art.  More about that soon.

This Week's Various

Posted by ginger On Friday, November 18, 2011

Po-Boy Fest this weekend in New Orleans!

I've never been a fan of the late Prophet Royal Robertson's art (get over Adell leaving you!); the NYT did a short write-up of his first big exhibit in NYC, Roberta Smith saying "There’s definitely a fingernails-on-chalkboard quality to Robertson’s sensibility that is part of its allure and perhaps a limitation. But as an introduction, this is a memorable show that whets the appetite for further exposure."

Last weekend's Slotin Folk Art Auction registered a high for sale of a Purvis Young work: $25k.

FLW's son, Lloyd Wright (who designed Lincoln Logs) is known for his own architecture, especially in Southern California -- and one of the homes he designed, the Samual-Novarro house, is on the market for just over $4MM.  Beautiful.

There's a FLW mausoleum. "The 24 crypts within Blue Sky Mausoleum represent the only opportunities in the world where one can choose memorialization in a Frank Lloyd Wright structure." and then it gets overdone: "Whatever your intent, your purchase of a crypt at Blue Sky Mausoleum ensures that your name will be joined forever with the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, a cultural icon widely proclaimed as the greatest American architect of all time." And there's more of that, too.

There was someone who advertised in the B'ham News a few years ago (I think I wrote about it here) that they were selling their plot at Elmwood Cemetery, with a big selling point that with their particular location it you could spend eternity so close to Coach Bryant.  I like that one better.

One of the three FLW-designed homes in Washington state is on the market.

Forcing Paperwhites

Paperwhite Blooms

If you like paperwhite blooms at the end of the year, now's the time to start forcing the bulbs.

Missing the maitre d' in New Orleans and elsewhere, from the Times-Picayune.

Mississippi's late 2012 car tag design.

The NYT T Magazine, Travel: Raising the Bayou about the dining scene in New Orleans...

Nothing causes New Orleanians to wake up in night sweats like the prospect of their beloved city turning into a Houston or an Atlanta or some other well-adjusted city. Of course, there is little to be gained by becoming a quaint still life, either, and it is this tension — between adopting from the outside and holding on to what makes New Orleans what it is — that has governed the past six years of recovery. While the city itself is still trying to find the balance, a wave of new cocktail bars, gastropubs and hotels are striking it in their own way.

There are at least three airlines that serve Krispy Kremes: Volaris, AirAsia, and Jetstar.  One even put the logo on one of their planes.

The text, the pics, the whole thing from the Nov '11 Bon Appetit magazine feature on John Currence and Billy Reid.  Creamed collards.


"In Queso Fever: A Movie About Cheese Dip" from Nick Rogers on Vimeo.
According to the World Cheese Dip Championship website, "Cheese dip, as we know it today, was introduced to the world and restaurant menus in 1935 by Blackie Donnelly, a Central Arkansas restaurateur and owner of Mexico Chiquito. In 2009, local attorney and filmmaker Nick Rogers researched the history of cheese dip in Arkansas and why it’s so beloved, and it all led back to Donnelly. “In Queso Fever: A Movie About Cheese Dip” soon followed and instantly went viral."  Right.  Arkansas.  Oh, and cheese dip predates nachos, btw.  Apparently cheese dip is incredibly prevalent there, in most any type of restaurant (it's been a little while since I've been to Arkansas, and I guess I just didn't pay attention).  Who doesn't like cheese dip?  The original recipe is rumored to be this one.


The Tennessee State Museum has on exhibit, "Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster" now through January 15, 2012.

To accompany the exhibit, the State Museum has produced an original documentary film entitled, Visual Voices of the South, which will have its debut in November. The film, which will serve as an orientation for visitors, includes one of the last-known interviews with Finster. Tennessee’s acclaimed self-taught artist, the late Bessie Harvey, is also shown. Many of the artists in the film are represented in the museum’s permanent collection.

A 152-page hardcover, full color catalogue with essays by Jim Arient, N. J. Girardot, Phyllis Kind, and exhibition curator Glen C. Davies, will be sold along with other folk art items in the "Paradise Garden" Gift Shop. After viewing the exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity shop in the special store which will only be open during the run of the exhibit.
The Historic Park Inn, the hotel FLW designed in Iowa, went under a $20MM renovation but the interior design hurts.  Someone go help it.

One of the newer food creations on the state fair circuit this year: red velvet funnel cake...and...Ben & Jerry's makes red velvet cake flavor now!?!

The Historic Women's Exchange in Baltimore fed people for decades (supported women and their crafts in various ways for decades), then closed almost ten years ago.  A new project on Kickstarter is to raise $10k so that the project can begin once more as the Women's Industrial Kitchen.

The Woman's Industrial Exchange opened 130 years ago to provide a forum for women to showcase and sell their domestic arts. It was a place where war widows went to make extra money to support their families by capitalizing on the talents that so many women have never been paid for. Since then the Exchange has been a place that galvanized our City around the central notion that the feminine arts are fabulous. Handcrafted objects have VALUE.

People went to the Kitchen for an honest meal served by a feisty but motherly woman. The food was a celebration of homecooking and the environment was reminiscent of the very best memories of one's own home kitchen. It was a place where regulars were thankful for the consistency of great food and tourists sought out for the experience. This vision ended in 2002. I want to bring it back.

I want to restore the flavor and feeling of the Woman's Industrial Kitchen. We will offer the very best of home inspired comfort food. You will be served by the sassiest mothers I know. You will sit seeped in the history of famous and average women who have triumphed in the home, work and communities. We will celebrate home economics and the power of positive thinking.

Your contribution will help us restore this amazing, historic restaurant. It will help us tell the her-story of Maryland women. It will hire cooks, waitresses, bussers and hostesses. It will help us rebuild a legacy that Baltimore has missed sorely.

Love this.  Bring back the tomato aspic, here.
The NYT reported last week on other restaurants getting started via Kickstarter as well.
...and the NYT also ran a story about a town in up-state NY opening their own general store based on $100 shares purchased by citizens, since after the Ames store closed in 2002 making many household sundries a fifty mile drive away.

The NYT Sunday Review has a large slideshow collection from Shelby Lee Adams' new book (release date: 11/30), Salt and Truth, which has 80 photographs he's taken over the last eight years.  If you're familiar with his subject, this set is very familiar.  From a gallery's press release on their Salt and Truth show:

In the introduction to his latest book, Adams helps to explain the title “Salt and Truth”, which is also partially inspired by a passage from a Cormac McCarthy novel. Adams states, “Today, it is becoming more difficult to find actual salt-of-the-earth people. They are disappearing as we are overrun by a more sugarcoated society… The families that have always lived here, many for more than a couple hundred years, are being dispersed by a new breed of Appalachian. There are land developers driving Hummers and Escalades, owning odd-shaped swimming pools and mansions built into the mountaintops after the coal is removed and the mountains reshaped… It is a more varied world now. Salt preserves wholesomeness and prevents decay. Salt lasts. And these hard-formed people from earlier times are still here, even as their population declines.”

“Adams recognizes the there is also an implied connection between truth and salt, which relates directly to his work and to his Appalachian subjects. Truth, as a state of mind and matter, is an aspiration for Adams in making his photographs and it is also reflected in the honesty and integrity of the individuals that he chooses as subjects. They see themselves exactly as they desire the camera to see them, which is without exaggeration or distortion.” (James Enyeart, Mutual Transcendence, “Salt & Truth”, 2011)

Adams states of his own approach to photographing his subjects, “Although I am working within a single culture, a culture in transition, I am also collaborating with unique individuals, families, and communities. I must know, understand, and be accepted by a range of people. Often these relationships have developed over a period of years, so that, before I make my photograph, I have established a strong rapport with my subjects. I sometimes visit without the intention of taking a picture, only to have the idea of a particular photograph emerge in the moment or later as I reflect on what I have observed. What makes my work unusual is that the hours of traveling and visiting are just as important as the photographs, which are expressions of my love for these people and this place.” (“Appalachian Lives”, University Press of Mississippi, 2003)

The largest WPA mural in the SE is at Woodlawn High School in B'ham, and restoration of it will resume thanks to additional funds.

Dear Georgia Power, even if you 'own' a historic cemetery to shore up property around one of your plants, it doesn't mean you can go out and take flags down from people's monuments, even if you're feeling particularly politically correct.

Thanksgiving Tree
A Thanksgiving Tree.

Stanley Saitowitz, an architect based in San Francisco, whose firm Natoma Architects designed the New England Holocaust Memoria, also happens to be an artist.  His works, exhibited as "Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica" runs now through October 2012 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.  He says of the items he designed, "These objects are the instruments of ritual and I designed them to be stripped of sentiment, which I don't believe provides much comfort anyway."  I find that statement a little odd, but the rimonim especially are interesting in a very spare way.

"Folk Art Everywhere (FAE), a public art project of the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM), is seeking new art to exhibit in its 25 locations throughout Los Angeles, beginning in mid-December. Folk Art Everywhere promotes the unique cultural and artistic landscape of Los Angeles by bringing art into unexpected spaces and celebrating all folk. We're in restaurants, markets, community centers, libraries, workers' centers and beyond—25 locations total, for a period of 4 months at a time. Our exhibitions and programs serve as a catalyst for the exploration of art and ideas that reflect our ever-changing community."  This kind of project should go on...everywhere.  They're at libraries, cafes, produce markets...

In case you don't like the usual Mason jar lids.

16 minutes of pimento cheese.

Pimento Cheese, Please! from Christophile Konstas on Vimeo.

Oh, Lunch.

Posted by ginger On Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another In The Series

Posted by ginger On Wednesday, November 16, 2011

...another in the series, "Not Your Momma's First Baptist Church" (non-traditional architecture) is this one in Reform, Alabama:

First Baptist Church, Reform AL

First Baptist Church, Reform AL


First Baptist in Selma, with gargoyles:
:First Baptist Church, Selma AL

First Baptist in Montgomery:
First Baptist Church, Montgomery AL

First Baptist Church of Cleveland, Alabama:
First Baptist Church, Cleveland AL

Gordo Music

Posted by ginger On Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Veteran's Day

Posted by ginger On Monday, November 14, 2011

This Week's Various

Posted by ginger On Friday, November 11, 2011

The Slotin Folk Art Auction is this weekend (lots 1-824 on Sat, balance on Sunday).  The catalog can be viewed here.  Online bidding is easy, easy -- I've done it.  Will the Bill Traylor Black Dog go for its auction estimate of $35-45k?  I still miss not getting (and not having the $ to) that Eli Whitney cotton gin they auctioned last year.

The Ogden has a new director, William Pittman Andrews, and he's from Starkville (has been Director of the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses before now).  And of course half of the 'historic houses' part of that title comes from Faulkner's Rowan Oak.  WPA also happens to be an artist himself.


Artwork by Chris Clark at Kentuck, Northport AL
I should have mentioned this before, but since he passed away, the B'ham Museum of Art has put together an exhibit of Chris Clark's works, called Celebrate Life: The Art of Chris Clark.  It will be up through March 4, 2012.

Pecan Festival this weekend in Harahan.

As the Decatur Daily put it, "What do you do if you are a book lover and your number of volumes exceeds the space in your house? Larry Brown resolved that predicament by building a library next door to his double-wide on Depreast Road in the Rock Springs community, about seven miles west of Hartselle."  Love it when people do their own things.

Another thing catching up on: the owner of Famous Joe's Pizza in Madison AL, Joe Carlucci, is someone I've seen on Food Network and other places -- he's the world's fastest pizza maker (seriously) as this summer he won the competition in Naples.  For the third time.  And he has a Guinness record for highest pizza toss.  Pretty mixed reviews on Yelp, though.

Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens, Summerville GA
The Chicago Tribune wrote yesterday about an exhibit of Howard Finter's works called the Howard Finster Vision House Touring Exhibit that's made up of over 200 works, organized by David Leonardis who has worked on restoring Howard's art environment in Georgia.  David Leonardis says that Howard's widow told him to buy the 'vision house' at a tax sale, which he got for $1479 (and now says he has over $100k in it).  The touring exhibit, which the Tribune wrote about, includes "more than 200 paintings, drawings and pieces of paraphernalia."

Yvonne Wells' Quilts, Kentuck Festival of the Arts, Northport AL
The International Quilt Study Center and Museum is in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the paper there just did a piece about Yvonne Wells and her story quilts, which are on exhibit there until February 26.

Thanks very much to Jonathan for sending me a link to the piece in London's Daily Mail entitled, 'Life in hard times: Dreamy images document misery and merriment during the Great Depression in the South' about the 'Signs of Life; Photographs of Peter Sekaer' exhibit at the International Center of Photography that is on  through January 8, 2012. *Wonderful* that the paper ran so many of the images, too.  From the press release:
The Danish documentary photographer Peter Sekaer (1901–1950) was one of the key contributors to U.S. government photographic projects during the Great Depression. Sekaer photographed alongside Walker Evans in the American South during the Farm Security Administration years, and photographs by the two are sometimes indistinguishable. But Sekaer, who was a painter and who made a living as a sign painter, was an accomplished and prolific photographer who combined a strong sense of advocacy with a highly attuned graphic eye. 

Hobo nickles?

Floyd Shaman sale of art and personal effects last night and weekend.  I did not realize that his wife passed away last year.  We have one piece of his here in our home (bought it for $50 seven or eight years ago from someone who had no idea and didn't care who Floyd Shaman was); I first learned of him in Southern Living when they did a feature on their B&B in Cleveland MS and I fell in love with the watermelon bed.  Pics of some of his other art here.

Do you know what a murmuration is?  It's something wonderful.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Amos Paul Kennedy's Letterpress Prints at Kentuck 2006
The documentary about Amos Kennedy Jr., Proceed and Be Bold! is today's Prescreen selection.  Yes, yes, yes.

Crystal Bridges

Posted by ginger On Thursday, November 10, 2011

Used with permission for media, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Norman Rockwell, Rosie the Riveter, 1943, Oil on canvas, 52 x 40 in. (132.1 x 101.6 cm)
Roy Lichtenstein, Outstanding Explosion (Red), 1966, Porcelain enamel on steel
Kerry James Marshall, 

Our Town, 1995, Acrylic and printed-paper collage on canvas

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2010, Appliqued found knitted and crocheted fabric, metal armature, painted metal and wood toy

Walton Ford, 
The Island, 2009, Watercolor, gouache, pencil, and ink on paper

Tomorrow in Bentonville, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opens.  That's the museum started and funded (cost: around $400MM) by Alice Walton, the Walmart heiress, and best of all, it's considered already to have one of the best collections of American art in the world, NPR reports.

Well, I've been following this project for a while -- in fact, I was hoping along with a lot of other people that Alice Walton would have swept in to help save the American Folk Art Museum in NYC earlier this year when things looked most bleak (she didn't).  When I heard Renee Montagne mention that Elizabeth Blair was going to do a report about the museum this week on NPR, I was very happy.

And then, not so much.

Elizabeth Blair rightly points out that the museum really has nothing to do with Walmart the corporation, although the Walmart Foundation did give $20MM so that admission to all could be free.  She smartly pointed out that the collection at Crystal Bridges includes works by Thomas Eakins and Romare Bearden and Andy Warhol.  And that the architect was Moshe Safdie, who recently designed the Kauffman Center in KCMO, and so much more.  The idea is that with outside public attractions like 3.5 miles of walking trails, the museum will generate interest among people who otherwise would not be as compelled to visit.

Rather than go on to discuss, you know, the museum and its collection and goals, Elizabeth Blair interviews a Sam's Club employee who says, "I have no interest in a museum because it might be full of lies."  Then of all the other sources to bring in to discuss the museum, she interviews a writer for the French newspaper, Liberation, who rightly points out that, as she says, "...it's a very nice museum. It's a place of pure beauty." But then can't help herself, and can't make the detachment from Walmart the corporation to this museum: "It's just the very opposite of everything Wal-Mart is doing. It's the focus of the museum is on American art, whereas Wal-Mart stores focus on cheap imports from China."

...and don't get me wrong, I dislike Walmart as much as the next person for a large variety of reasons.  And I find the experience of shopping in their stores to be pretty awful, done largely at last resort.  But the fact that Elizabeth Blair couldn't present this story of a museum, an independent venture, without bringing in reactionary aspects, is pretty distasteful.

Alice Walton, a billionaire, could have spent her $400MM somewhere else, on herself.  It's her money.  Instead she decided to build a museum.

Thank you, Alice.

Little Brother Brownies

Posted by ginger On Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I made a care package from home for our Little Brother who is at college at Troy right now, and one of the things I put in were brownies. This recipe makes two 8"x8" pans, so of course the recipe is easy to half if you don't need quite as much, and these turn out *so* good!

2 sticks butter
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
4 tbsp cocoa powder (Hershey's is fine)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350*.
Butter, and place a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of two 8x8 baking pans.

Make the chocolate layer by melting one stick of butter in the microwave, then in a larger bowl, mix together the butter and 1-1/4 cup sugar. Now mix in two of the eggs, then 1/2 cup flour. Add the chocolate chips. Pour evenly into each of the baking pans, carefully making an even layer from side to side.

Make the peanut butter layer by melting the rest of the butter in the microwave, then in a larger bowl, mix together the butter and peanut butter. Now mix in the rest of the sugar, then two of the eggs, then the rest of the flour and baking powder.


Pour this peanut butter layer evenly over the chocolate layer in each pan. If you like, you can mix the peanut butter layer and the chocolate layer together gently using a spoon or butter knife (to make swirls) but I really think these taste better as two distinct layers.


Barber Shop Series

Posted by ginger On Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Here's another set of barber shop pics I took, this time in West Point, MS.  The owner's keeping it vintage in the front:

Barber Shop, West Point MS

Barber Shop, West Point MS

Barber Shop, West Point MS

Barber Shop, West Point MS

Barber Shop, West Point MS


Posted by ginger On Monday, November 07, 2011

I thought you might like to see this picture.  This gentleman is a sofer (pr. "so-fair") -- he's examining the eleven Torah scrolls at my synagogue.  Part of it is checking the scroll's physical condition (as they are written on hides) and also checking the text to see if there are any cracks, flakes, or missing parts in any letters -- and there are 304,805 letters to check.  You can see from the picture above that the scroll isn't even unwound half-way.  That's a lot of reading!

One of the reasons that Torahs are checked so meticulously is that if you're reading a Torah, and you find a missing or incomplete letter, you must put that Torah away and not use it until it is corrected.  

Torahs are written by hand by qualified individuals, meaning they have years and years and years of experience.  There is a special ink that's used and a special type of quill that makes the letters.

Each Torah contains the entire text in Hebrew of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis - Deuteronomy) which we know as the Five Books of Moses because it's tradition that Moses wrote these at G-d's instruction.  Part of the tradition holds that even though the last verses of Deuteronomy discuss Moses' death, Moses even wrote those, crying.

As you can imagine, Torahs cost many tens of thousands of dollars to commission.  The Torah that you see above is over two hundred years old.

At each Shabbat Saturday morning service, and a couple of other times during the week at minyan, and other holidays, we take out the Torah and read it from a special table at the front of our sanctuary.  The congregation follows along in a book that has both the Hebrew, and English translation.  My husband and his brother are both good Torah readers (I am not.  At all.).  During the course of a year, we go all the way from the first verse of the Torah to the last.

This Torah below is in a special case at my synagogue.  It's known as a 'Holocaust Torah' because the Nazis collected a great amount of Judaica and stored it in Prague for what they figured would be a museum to the extinct race.  There are about 1800 Torahs from that stash that have been permanently loaned to congregations around the world as a way to commemorate the Holocaust.


If you look closely (and can read Hebrew) you can see that it's currently open to the 'Song at the Red Sea' which is in the book of Exodus.  This is what the Israelites sang after escaping the Egyptians.